A CHARITY bidding for cash to support the elderly made lonely by the lockdown has emerged victorious despite a top politician branding it a “dependency”.

Voices and Choices secured £5,000 for a Community Companionship service in Amersham, defeating claims by Buckinghamshire Council leader Martin Tett that the scheme was in direct conflict with that of another backed by the authority.

The new service will “reduce loneliness… at a particular time when more people are socially isolated and may be in need of support and companionship”.

READ MORE: ‘Appalling’: Council leader slammed for blocking charity that represents thousands of disabled Bucks residents on Twitter

Cllr Tett questioned its necessity, arguing it created a “competitor” for the council and a “dependency” service.

Voices and Choices chairperson Barbara Poole challenged Cllr Tett, winning support from other Amersham Community Board members.

The charity also supports the elderly in staying safe in their homes and in advocacy about decisions which impact their lives. It also intends to tackle all forms of financial abuse.

“This particular group I know very little about,” said Cllr Tett. “They’ve applied to four Community Boards in total, and they’re providing a service… which is effectively overlapping or duplicating a service the council already provides through Connection Support.

“We are almost funding a competitor. One of the key reasons they weren’t chosen when this was put out as a commissioned service was the team didn’t want to create a dependency.

“One of the differences between Connection Support and Voices and Choices is the former doesn’t create that dependency; the latter appears to do so.

“My other concern is if we fund this group this year, if you create a dependency, you will effectively have to fund it year after year.

“It looks like a general bid across the Chiltern District area by this group to duplicate what’s already in place via the council and it is a dependency rather than a short-term assist service.”

The charity did apply to other boards but said it would only work ‘in the areas it is funded to’.

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Ms Poole replied: “I’m disappointed Martin Tett hasn’t heard about our organisation. We’ve been going in the area for five years now.

“We are certainly not a dependency service,” she urged. “It is our intention to provide support to people so they can take control of their own lives and to find resources within their own community.

“I’m sorry you’ve misunderstood the bid. We also provide community advocacy which is not funded by the council in this area where we support people to speak up wherever they need it.

“It is not true to say we are a dependency service. Everything we do is opposed to creating dependency, it is all about giving people choice and control over their lives.

“It is not within our ethos to create dependency. Our role is to step in for as long as required to support people to take control over their lives. That is our be all and end all for existing.”

Cllr Isobel Darby leapt to the defence of the charity citing an incident involving a landlord dispute where its input was “invaluable”.

Another speaker said it provided a “valuable service” to the disadvantaged.

It is the second time in a week the council leader has been shrouded in controversy after he was criticised for blocking Buckinghamshire Disability Service (BuDS), which represents 41,000 disabled residents, on Twitter – a move that was branded “appalling”.

Members voted to approve the funding.

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