Seniors forum and jobs hub talk to top Tory minister

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A seniors forum in Eastbourne questioned a top Tory on how he will safeguard services for elderly and vulnerable people in the wake of local government cuts.

And Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, unveiled his vision for the future of local government funding.

He joined Tory candidate for Eastbourne Caroline Ansell, and met first with three members of the Eastbourne Seniors Forum (ESF).

Steve Thornett, chairman of the ESF told Mr Duncan Smith, “We have 1,200 members in this forum. Across the county, in East Sussex Seniors Forum, we have got 6,000 members.

“We have got the largest number of over 85-year-olds in Eastbourne. The problem is, of course, they are going to be in need of a lot of care. Our particular issue at the moment is the cutbacks that the government is making to the county council .

“That is impacting on day to day care and we’re hoping you will do something about it.”

East Sussex County Council has had to make £67 million savings in three years, with implications for vulnerable residents. Mr Duncan Smith explained how the government is trying to ‘keep public spending under control’, and wants local councils to ‘help people help themselves’.

He said his vision for the future for local government spending involves social impact bonds, and ‘councils looking at projects and using bonds to finance them’.

“It will mean greater access to funding that does not come straight from government,” he said. “That is the future of local government spending. We are trying to get councils to think. They have got very dependent on central government and the money central government gives them.”

He also spoke about working with the Job Centre to get more senior citizens on the web, by providing training and PCs for them to use.

Mr Duncan Smith also met with the Eastbourne Jobs Hub and local councillors at Town Hall at his visit on Friday. He said, “Eastbourne Jobs Hub provides a great service to the local community. It creates an excellent opportunity for people of all ages to progress within the jobs environment.”

The hub helps people find work, and provides opportunities for people to access impartial advice and skills training.

Rebecca Parsons, the Eastbourne Jobs Hub manager, said “Although newly launched, the number of visitors to the hub are increasing every week. The partnership with the Eastbourne Job Centre and our other key partners enables us to offer all the support and advice needed to help people find rewarding careers and support business with their staffing and skills needs. Whether they want to get started on a new career, progress to the next level or access training, or a business to find an apprentice or upskill their current staff, we can help point them in the right directions.”

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