Across the country, local authorities are working to finalise their budgets for 2023/24. While many will have already published their draft budgets, these are not set in stone. January and February of each year represent an intense period of negotiation, with different sections of local government all putting their case forward to avoid cuts to their funding.
This year, spiralling inflation means these negotiations will be more intense than ever, with the Local Government Association recently stating that councils across the country “face significant challenges in setting their budgets and trying to protect services.” The majority of people in a local area won’t use a homelessness service, so it can be seen by councillors as a funding cut that will go under the radar, meaning services may be vulnerable to cuts.
We know the vast majority of homelessness services have had no funding uplift to deal with the cost of living crisis, despite budgets being set when inflation was a fraction of what it is now. Unsurprisingly, many services are reporting scaling back their work and even fear closing down all together. Clearly, any further cuts to homelessness budgets will be devastating at a time when homelessness levels are on the rise.
Therefore, at a time when many sectors are struggling, it’s up to us to make the case against cuts in the homelessness sector. That’s why we have just published our Local Authority Influencing Toolkit, as part of our broader Keep Our Doors Open campaign, to help our members advocate to protect their funding within their local areas. It contains advice around who to be contacting within your local council and how, getting the messaging right and when to use more abrasive tactics such as the media and social media.
If a service can convince a councillor, or councillors, of its value, both to the people it supports and the wider community, it makes it very difficult to cut its funding, so if you are concerned about this prospect the time to act is now. In a month’s time it will be too late.
If you would like any further information or support on this issue please don’t hesitate to get in touch via the details below.