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Cuts 'will hurt vulnerable most'

Spending cuts could leave almost half a million of England's most vulnerable people fending for themselves, it has been claimed.

Campaigners raised fears that women fleeing domestic violence, homeless people, ex-offenders, drug addicts and alcoholics would be among those abandoned if a key outreach programme is scaled back.

They warned that deep cuts to the £1.6 billion Supporting People programme would place increased demands on the NHS, police and courts - costing more in the long term.

The National Housing Federation made the predictions by researching the consequences of a 40% cut to the programme - which provides support to help people live independently - after Government departments were asked to suggest savings of up to 40% as part of the Whitehall spending review which will conclude in October.

It claimed around 438,000 individuals would see their support withdrawn, with hostels and women's refuges closed and counselling services shut down.

Federation chief executive David Orr said: "Supporting People services help hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people lead independent and secure lives, and saves the taxpayer billions of pounds through the avoidance of costly hospital admissions and recourse to other services.

"If the Supporting People budget is substantially cut it will lead to many vulnerable people losing the support they depend on, with the result that they will no longer be able to lead self-sufficient lives and will increasingly have to rely on acute health and other services.

"The Government has repeatedly said that it wants to protect the vulnerable and yet these cuts would hurt many of the most susceptible people in society. It would also lead to increased demands on the health service, social services and the criminal justice system - and have profound social repercussions."

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