Council says it won't renew funding for Derbyshire Unemployed Workers' Centre - despite petition

Derbyshire County Council's Matlock headquarters.
Derbyshire County Council's Matlock headquarters.

Derbyshire County Council has said it will not renew funding for a specialist advice service for unemployed people - after a petition was set up urging the authority to rethink its decision.

In January, the council controversially announced its funding for the Derbyshire Unemployed Workers' Centre (DUWC) would end next month.

This online petition - which has so far been signed by nearly 550 people - was later started urging the Conservative-led authority to reinstate the £92,000 of funding to DUWC 'so we can continue to provide a benefits advice and tribunal representation service for some of the most disadvantaged people in Derbyshire'.

But a council spokesman said today: "An agreement by the council to cover the core costs of DUWC, as well as providing funding for the work it does around welfare rights and benefits appeals, finishes at the end of March this year.

"While the council is grateful for the work carried out at the centre, it will not be renewing this funding agreement after March 31.

"Due to challenges facing our budget, we must look to do things differently and more efficiently and we’ll be looking to take a different approach to commissioning this type of service in the future so they reach more people in all areas of the county."

According to the DUWC, thousands of Derbyshire residents use the service, which has offices throughout the county.

When the council announced it was pulling funding, Colin Hampton, DUWC co-ordinator, said: "This is not the first time the Conservatives have wiped out our grant aid. However, they cannot destroy us.

"The centres have many funding streams and even more supporters.

"We will be embarking on a massive fundraising campaign to bridge the gap left by the council's cynical move."

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins added: "The cuts to the centre seem like a vindictive attempt by the Tory-run council to prevent claimants getting the advice they need and will result in less money in the Derbyshire economy."