Cuts put help for homeless people at risk

Survey of 500 services finds homeless sector shrank in 2012.

Research published today by the umbrella body Homeless Link indicates that funding cuts are having an impact on the ability of charities to help those without a home.

With the number of homeless people increasing by 10% in 2012 , the annual ‘Survey of Needs and Provision’, found that nearly five out of ten projects saw their funding fall - by an average of 17%.

With most services reliant on local authority funding, the findings indicate that the capacity of the sector to house and help new homeless people has fallen.

  • In the year to November 2012, 58 accommodation projects closed and 1,811 bed spaces were lost.
  • The number of full-time staff has reduced by 16% since 2010.

There has also been a decrease in the number of services offering targeted support to help clients with the most complex problems.

From November 2010 - November 2012, services aimed at those:

  • who have been sleeping rough fell 21 percentage points
  • with mental health issues fell 18 percentage points
  • leaving prison fell 15 percentage points
  • who have been victims of domestic violence fell 14 percentage points.

The results indicate an increasing number of services do not feel equipped to help individuals who, because of the multiple issues they face, require the highest level of support.

  • The number of services declining clients because they pose a high risk has gone up by nearly a third since the last survey in November 2011(from 47% - 76%).
  • Four out of ten projects that have seen funding reductions told us they have restricted support offered to clients with high or complex needs.

Many services which have seen their funding fall believe this is resulting in negative consequences for homeless people and local communities.

Of the services that reported funding reductions, 22% said it had affected their ability to move clients into long-term accommodation, while 18% said it had impacted on getting clients into employment. More than half believe that cuts are resulting in increased rough sleeping (65%) and anti-social behaviour (56%).

Commenting on the findings, Rick Henderson Chief Executive of Homeless Link said:

“More people than ever are seeking help with homelessness.  Our members don’t just provide a roof, they also give the specialist support people often need to get back on their feet

“The cumulative impact of cuts is putting this vital work at risk. There are fewer specialist services and full-time professionals with the expertise to help.

“Homeless charities are the final safety net for those with the most complex problems. If cuts continue to reduce the capacity of the sector, where else will these individuals turn?

“The message to funders is clear. Protect critical services and you’ll help to prevent the harm homelessness causes to individuals and communities.”

The ‘Survey of Needs and Provision’, which charts annual changes in homelessness, was carried out in November 2012 and involved 500 accommodation and day centre projects in England.

Our annual survey of 500 services that charts annual changes in homelessness