Quarter of hostel bed spaces could go
A quarter of hostel bed spaces for rough sleepers in England are threatened because of drastic Supporting People cuts, Homeless Link has warned.
In a survey of 270 providers the umbrella group found organisations are expecting a 17 per cent drop of SP funding next year and 27 per cent over the next three years.
Homeless Link intends to survey 1,700 providers it has contact with in England but those it has managed to gleen information from so far estimate this will mean a 25 per cent reduction in bed spaces nationally.
Drew Lindon, Homeless Link’s head of policy, explained this would put extra pressure on other services, including health.
‘We understand the position local authorities are in but the arguments for drastically cutting Supporting People does not pan out on any level,’ he said.
‘This will lead to greater crisis in the long run. Not just to local authorities, but also in terms of costs to the health services.’
Planned cuts to housing benefit would make the situation worse, he added, because it would reduce services’ incomes as well as make it harder for people to maintain accommodation, meaning they would be more likely to become homeless.
Mr Lindon believed SP services were being targeted for cuts because it was easier for councils to do that than make reductions to building-based services.
‘Some local authorities don’t see the value of Supporting People services and have the impression that vulnerable people need to buck up their ideas and get a job,’ he added.
The government’s comprehensive spending review heralded a cut to the Supporting People budget of 11.5 per cent to £6 billion over the four years to 2014/15. This was less than providers had feared. The Treasury paper also reassured: ‘Funding for services that support the most vulnerable in society will be relatively protected.’
Local authorities are expected to make their decisions on settlements for the next financial year by the end of next month.
Homeless Link are hoping to produce more information on their research by then, aiming to stop some of the SP cuts planned.