A SERVICE offering counselling to women in need is facing an £80,000 funding cut.

The Brighton Women’s Centre said the lost grant could mean its counselling service closes.

It said the result would be further inequalities for women and there could be a knock-on effect cost to health services.

However Brighton and Hove clinical commissioning group (CCG), which provides the money to a body called Here which then distributes the cash, said it had been unaware of the decision to cut funding.

Lisa Dando, director of the Brighton Women’s Centre in Richmond Place, said: “Brighton Women’s Centre (BWC) is hugely disappointed and gravely concerned about the decision to remove funding from its women-only counselling service – the only holistic, trauma informed and gender specific service in the city.

“We know from national and local reports that women’s mental health needs are escalating with 22 per cent of women in Brighton and Hove compared with 15 per cent of men living with depression.

“For many women, anxiety and depression are the tip of the iceberg – symptoms that often belie more serious evidence of past trauma.

“We feel strongly that while this cut to our funding will save money in the short term it will certainly result ultimately in greater strain on our already over stretched health service.

“Not to mention the further negative impact on the health inequalities of women and their families.”

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove CCG said: “We are committed to providing first-rate services to help improve mental health in our community, with women’s complex needs one of our highest priorities.

“We want to reassure women in the city they can still access support and counselling services in their community, and to confirm this change is not in any way related to funding cuts from the CCG.

“We have recently increased our investment into the ‘improving access to psychological therapy service’ provided by Here.”

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, convenor of the Green group on Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “I have been horrified to learn that there is a cut to the counselling service for Brighton Women’s Centre, a service funded by local health authorities.

“The Brighton Women’s Centre were given just three months’ notice with no consultation on the decision.

“This is a grant of £80,000 but as anyone who has worked with the Brighton Women’s Centre knows, they not only stretch every penny but are also a deeply valued lifeline.”