A POTENTIAL multi-million pound funding cut could hit charities for homeless people across Bognor Regis and Chichester.
Labour county councillor Michael Jones has warned the reduction of West Sussex County Council’s supporting people funding could cause a surge in the number of rough sleepers.
His concern was triggered by a late change in the council’s forward plan which says most of the £6m fund is set to be cut.
If the fund is scrapped, the current housing support contracts with charities and housing associations will start to be ended from next April. Among those affected will be Bognor Housing Trust and Stonepillow, which works in Chichester and Bognor Regis.
Cllr Jones said the proposal by the Conservative-led council was callous and despicable. “Anyone who has seen first-hand the dedication of the staff at these organisations trying to help people in this terrible situation turn their lives around, and go forward with a roof over their heads, would not doubt for a second the benefit to the community they provide,” he said.
“The price it costs is relatively small as opposed to the costs that will undoubtedly emerge if they aren’t there, particularly to the health service and the police. In the meantime, I fear these cuts will trigger an epidemic of homelessness.”
County council leader Cllr Louise Goldsmith, pictured above, said consultation about the future funding of supported housing projects would begin this month.
“Supported housing projects help a number of vulnerable people including those who are homeless, rough sleepers and ex-offenders,” she said.
“We no longer have dedicated funding for housing support from central government and the services we provide are not statutory, unlike many others which are under pressure. We recognise that making savings in this area could lead to an increase in pressure on other services in the long run.
“We will work closely with our partners in the voluntary sector and other local authorities to find ways to keep the impact of any funding changes to a minimum.”