Wednesday, 23 March 2011

One in six homeless hostel beds under threat

Supporting People cuts could lead to one in six of England’s homeless hostel beds becoming unavailable from April, Homeless Link has warned. A survey conducted by the homeless charity umbrella group suggests that of the 84 councils who have announced their reductions to Supporting People funding, 41 per cent are cutting a greater percentage than the overall cut they received from central government for 2011/12.

The report Counting the Cost of Cuts, released last night, made up of information from 500 homelessness services (30 per cent of all homelessness services) predicted this will mean a reduction of 16 per cent (1,807) hostel beds being lost across the country. Homeless Link claimed homeless service providers are facing an average total funding cut of 25 per cent and the cuts councils plan to make to their Supporting People budgets ranges between 1 per cent to 45 per cent.

Based on its findings, the report estimated:

22 per cent of accommodation services would close

46 per cent of floating support services would reduce frontline staff

36 per cent of projects would reduce their support services

The greatest discrepancies between the cut to Supporting People budgets and what councils will receive from the government are in Rochdale, Kingston upon Hull, Kensington and Chelsea, Lewisham, and Nottinghamshire and Nottingham. Homeless Link said it is likely the most beds will be lost in these areas.

Jenny Edwards, chief executive of Homeless Link, said: ‘Councils that have taken action to protect services that support homeless people recognise [their] value. But others are making cuts that make no long-term sense, are disproportionate, hit some of their most vulnerable residents and cannot be justified.

‘The evidence is clear, if you cut homeless services today, communities are highly likely to pay tomorrow - seeing higher rates of addiction, ill health and anti-social behaviour.’ She called on people to campaign for their local services that support homeless people and contact their councillors about the issue.