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Welsh Government to merge Supporting People with other grant schemes

The Welsh Government will merge Supporting People with other grant schemes, new figures detailing its spending up to 2019/20 appear to show.

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Welsh Government to merge Supporting People with other grant schemes #ukhousing

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Under the programme, local authorities are given cash to fund housing support services for people vulnerable to homelessness, as well as older people and disabled people, in order to help them live independently.

Earlier this month, the Welsh Government announced it would protect the fund for the next two years after striking a deal with Plaid Cymru for its draft budget.

However, in detailed draft budget proposals released today, there is no figure entered for Supporting People in 2019/20 – leading to fears of future cuts as councils have greater flexibility on how they use the funding.

Instead, a new £252m budget appears under the label “Early Intervention – Prevention and Support Grant”, suggesting a selection of schemes are being rolled into one.

Carl Sargeant, cabinet secretary for communities and children at the Welsh Government, said: “There are no cuts to the Supporting People grant.

“The Supporting People grant has its own budget line in 2018-19. In 2019-20 it will be included in a different budget line, which allows for the creation of a new wider grant but the level of Welsh Government funding will be consistent with 2017-18 levels.”

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Stuart Ropke, chief executive of Community Housing Cymru said: “Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru’s budget deal earlier this month recognised the importance of the Supporting People programme to some of the most vulnerable people in Wales and provided much needed certainty to support investment in vital services.

“We will urgently seek clarity from Welsh Government that this move to merged budget lines does not threaten the vital stability that these services are based on.

“It is crucial that Supporting People remains protected as a ringfenced funding pot for housing related support and prevention of homelessness.”

Matt Dicks, director of the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru, said the news was “extremely disappointing”.

“We cannot emphasise enough that protection for the fund must translate both in terms of the finances committed to it and the way it is delivered in practice,” he said.

“With both current and future changes to welfare placing people at greater risk of needing some form of support, it is pivotal that the Welsh Government now provide additional clarity on what the arrangements outlined today will mean in practice.”

Plaid Cymru finance spokesman Steffan Lewis said: “Plaid Cymru is seeking urgent clarification from the Welsh Government on the Supporting People budget, which formed a central part of our Budget agreement between our two parties.”

The Welsh Government’s delivery of Supporting People was criticised by a Wales Audit Office report in August which pointed to “inconsistencies in the way the programme is being managed”.

Update: at 15:02 25/10/17

The story was updated to include more information.

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