Job club cutbacks could stop mental health users from securing employment in Barking and Dagenham

A mental health service user has warned that plans to cut funding to a specialist job club could stop people with emotional problems securing employment in the downturn.

Mike Inns, 46, spoke out after Labour councillors approved �100,000 of cuts to the employment service based at the Porters Avenue health centre in Dagenham.

He said the support service, run with the help of three council staff, differed from other job clubs because it allowed people with mental health issues to get together and share their problems.

Mr Inns, of Valence Avenue, Dagenham, said: “I understand they have to make cuts but my argument would be that they have already made cutbacks in mental health.

“The service was there in the first place because it was needed. They have a duty of care.

“People are now losing their jobs and facing mortgage repossessions and yet they are shutting down places that are good for them.

“It’s criminal. It’s bad enough if you lose your job but it’s worse if you have a nervous breakdown.”

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Mr Inns said he previously worked for a glass company but lost his job when it went into administration.

He has himself received emotional support from mental health services.

Councillors reduced the original proposed savings of �194,000 to �100,000 at Barking Town Hall on November 14.

Town hall chiefs stressed the council had no statutory responsibility to provide the employment service and argued that organisations for the disabled like the Shaw Trust could help the clients.

Councillors stressed at the meeting they are “recommended savings” with a final decision to be made by the Labour council in February 2013.

A council spokesman told the Post: “If the saving is agreed, then staff in the council’s job shops and the 15 community employment outreach services will receive specialist training in supporting people with mental health needs.

“This is not a proposal that the council would be considering if we were not subject to current austerity measures. But in these challenging times we are forced to make some very difficult decisions about the services that we fund.”