On 24/11/2023, Leicestershire County Council (LCC) cabinet voted to approve a proposal to de-commission the homelessness support contract from April 2024.
The contract funds the support offered in the Falcon Centre, a 30 bed supported housing service in Loughborough. It supported 99 people in 2022/23. Of these 97% improved their finances, 85% improved their health and wellbeing and 71% successfully exited homelessness. Falcon Support Services, the charity who manage the accommodation service, state they will have no choice but to close it without the funding.
The latest Annual Rough Sleeper Count found that the number of people sleeping rough in Leicestershire and Rutland rose by 109% between 2021 and 2022, over four times the national average rise. Meanwhile, analysis by the housing charity Shelter, conducted earlier this year, estimated that 1,400 people were homeless across the county on any given night in 2022, with this figure including both people sleeping rough and living in temporary accommodation.
LCC’s decision comes despite widespread opposition from local services and organisations and that three out of four responses to its public consultation disagreed with the proposal.
Peter Smith, Director of Sector Development at Homeless Link, the membership body for homelessness services in England, said:
“Prolonged inflation and historic under-funding mean Leicestershire County Council, like county councils across the country, is facing huge pressures to find savings in its budgets.
“But the Council’s decision today is dangerous and short-sighted. Taken in the context of spiralling homelessness and rough sleeping, it will see the closure of a vital service that provides housing and support to around 100 people each year, many of whom have complex needs and require specialised support to leave homelessness behind for good.
“The Council’s proposal that these people can use existing generic public health services instead goes against good practice for tackling homelessness, as well as its own strategy to address health inequalities. It will result in many people tragically falling through the cracks. And losing vital homelessness provision will also prove a false economy, placing additional strain on already stretched health and social care services.
“Moving forward, we will continue to work with and support our member organisations in Leicestershire to deal best with the ramifications of this decision.”