Homelessness charities providing vital services within Devon have issued a plea to Devon County Council to reject proposed cuts to homelessness funding ahead of a special meeting of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee.
Devon County Council is proposing to cut £1.5m from its Adult Homelessness Prevention funding as part of what its Finance Director labelled a “re-prioritisation”. This funding is shared between five charity providers of services and could result in the closure of five homeless hostel services across the county and a service which works with people to prevent them falling into homelessness. The council’s impact assessment found around 250 people receive support through the funding.
The 2022 annual rough sleeper count found the number of people sleeping rough on any given night rose in Devon by 44% when compared to 2021. This is almost double the national average rise of 26%.
On Thursday 27th July, the council is convening a special meeting of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee to examine the potential consequences of the planned funding cuts.
Exeter homelessness charity St Petrock’s are leading a coalition of organisations opposing the proposed cuts. Their CEO Peter Stephenson said:
“Devon County Council repeatedly state that they do not have a statutory duty around homelessness. Whilst correct, this completely sidesteps the key issue that this funding provides support for people in huge need facing acute disadvantage, many of whom will otherwise need Adult Social Care intervention at Devon’s expense if this support is stripped away. Furthermore, if they lose this support, those teetering on the edge of needing Adult Social Care will experience a dramatic downturn in their wellbeing. It’s hard to see how these cuts represent any financial saving overall.”
Peter Smith, Director of Sector Development at Homeless Link, the national membership body for frontline homelessness services, said:
“Prolonged inflation and historic under-funding mean Devon County Council, like local authorities across the country, is facing huge pressures to find savings in its budgets.
“But cutting homelessness funding is a dangerous and short-sighted decision that could lead to the closure of five hostel provisions across the county. Not only will it cause a sharp rise in rough sleeping, it will also be placing additional strain on valuable health and social care services, meaning the proposed savings represent a false economy.
“Thankfully there is still time for Devon County Council to reverse the proposals, demonstrating its commitment to providing good quality housing and support to some of the most vulnerable people within its jurisdiction.”