Autism services will be hit by budget cuts

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A leading charity which supports people with autism in Sussex says some of the services it offers may be at risk if the council gives the go-ahead to brutal funding cuts.

East Sussex County Council is currently consulting on proposals to slash £40m from its adult social care budget.

Autism Sussex, which has its headquarters in Battle, says proposals to pull 100 per cent of its council funding would have a devastating impact on the services it provides in Hastings and Rother.

A spokeswoman for Autism Sussex said: “All of the work and services Autism Sussex provide under these proposed cuts is preventative and will impact on the lives of individuals with autism and their families.”

The charity runs a support group in Hastings which aims to enable people with autism to develop coping strategies and resilience to deal with the issues and challenges they face on a daily basis. The group helps people to maintain their independence and to develop the skills and strategies that will support them to live more independently. A similar group recently set up in Uckfield, is also at risk.

The charity provides 40 hours of one-to-one mentoring a year for adults with an autism spectrum condition who require additional support, such as attending GP appointments or support with housing issues.  

This service will also be put at risk by the cuts, along with Talk 1:1, a confidential online advice and support service providing support and advice to individuals with autism, carers and professionals on a range of issues, including housing, healthcare and employment.

The service signposts and links people to Autism Sussex services as well as other local and universal services.

The charity’s Pathway to Employment scheme would suffer as a result of the cuts.

Autism Sussex has employed job coaches to support individual ‘trainees’ to develop practical and social skills to help them into volunteering and employment.

Trainees receive specialist input and training at the Cafe Des Arts in Hastings.

Last year, 15 trainees also had access to training and work experience supported by an Autism Sussex job coach at the Community Fruit and Veg Project, a Hastings-based social enterprise.

* Have your say on the cuts at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/ascbudget, email adultsocialcare@eastsussex.gov.uk or write to ASC Budget Consultation 2015, County Hall, St Anne’s Crescent, Lewes, BN7 1UE by December 18.

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