Friday, 20 February 2009

Closing Barnet's Welfare Rights Unit would be an act of mindless vandalism

Not surprisingly, the unemployment rate is going up in Barnet, as it is everywhere. At the same time, Mike Freer wants to close Barnet council's own Welfare Rights Unit that, among many vital functions, advises people on the benefits they are entitled to claim. This would be an act of vandalism on a highly successful service, when Barnet residents will be needing it more than ever.

Read the Barnet Unison report on why the WRU should not be closed here. You will see that the WRU's work is most important for some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

Read the local Times report on unemployment here.

I have written a comment which I reproduce below.

Is this the same Mike Freer that plans on Monday night to steer 'cessation' (closure) of the Welfare Rights Unit through the Council Cabinet meeting?

The WRU, a council service, has been successfully advising Barnet residents on claiming benefits that they are entitled to. Now Freer wants to close it to shave a bit of money off the council budget - but in fact the borough will lose out because less money will come into it in benefits claimed, and the settlement that central government makes to the council is partly based on the number of benefits claimants.

Freer claims that third-sector organisations - charities and so on - already receiving grants from the council can do the work that the Welfare Rights Unit does. But many of them have written to the council to protest at the proposed closure of the WRU - WRU and third-sector organisations work TOGETHER to achieve successful outcomes. Noah's Ark Children's Hospice, Disability Action in the Borough of Barnet, Barnet Mencap, and numerous sections of the council's own social and welfare services have written to support keeping WRU up and running.

Closure of the WRU would be an act of vandalism on a successful service at a time when it will be needed most.

If you agree, please email Mike Freer to let him know your views - - and come to the Council cabinet meeting on Monday night to protest.

7pm, Barnet House, 1255 High Road, Whetstone, N20 0EJ; directions here.

Email for more information.

1 comment:

Rog T said...


Sorry to say this. Closing the unit isn't a mindless act of vandalism, it's a well thought out act. That's what these guys do when they have the jackboots on.

They do this stuff for a reason. There is always a subplot.