Wiltshire charity Hft pulls council contract amid 'loss of trust'

image captionHfT which owns Furlong Close alleges it has been underfunded for several years

A charity providing services for adults with learning disabilities has pulled out of its contract with Wiltshire Council due to a "loss of trust".

HfT provides a day care centre and housing on behalf of a total of 14 councils is at risk of closure.

The charity said the issues stem from ongoing underfunding and how the service is commissioned by the council.

The authority said it wants to work positively with HfT and increased its pay to the charity two years ago.

Last year Furlong Close, which has bungalows for its residents in Rowde near Devizes, was threatened with closure and discussions began about the future of its residents.

No decision has yet been made about its future.

In the meantime, the charity wrote a letter to its service users and their families about the "deterioration and loss of trust in our relationship with the council".

'Historic underfunding'

The charity said it had been underfunded by the council and although it received an increase, "historic underfunding" remains an issue.

Wiltshire Council's corporate director for people Lucy Townsend said: "We gave a 35% uplift in 2019 and we have asked HfT to undertake an open book accounting exercise with us so that we can see how they are spending their money."

The charity has also alleged the authority "ceased to fulfil their statutory duty and their own plan to reassess everyone living on Furlong Close" which resulted in "distress" to residents.

Ms Townsend said: "If there is an opportunity that is viable both because residents want it and it meets their needs then that's something that we will look at of course.

"I can't give any form of commitment at this stage but we will be exploring all options once we have got that clarity that we're seeking from HfT."

Wiltshire Council has also added it has 25 residents living at Furlong Close and there are another 14 residents from 13 other local authorities who also live there.

HfT has promised it will only close the care home once all the residents have been found somewhere new.

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