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Warning about ‘costly’ cuts

MILLIONS of pounds in funding is set to be maintained towards helping rough sleepers across West Sussex.


County councillors who met on Wednesday discussed recommendations to their cabinet member for adults and health that some of the cutbacks proposed in the autumn should not take place.


The measures put before the health and adult social care select committee will be decided by Cllr Amanda Jupp in the next few weeks and show £2.3m a year will be spent on housing related support from 2020/21 to ensure the delivery of statutory duties.


This will allow the current level of funding for youth homelessness to be kept as well as preserving services covering rough sleeping and domestic violence refuges. But funding is set to be withdrawn for homelessness prevention and resettlement among other services. Contracts for housing related support will be changed to take effect from next September.


Funding for seven foodbanks around the county will be maintained along with support for children and families centres.


It will be cut in half for Citizens Advice services and reduced from £555,000 to £50,000 for social enterprise providers who support families with utility top-ups, furniture and white goods.


News of the recommendations came after a ten-strong coalition of housing providers issued a report which detailed the effect of axing all the support for the services its members provide.


The information showed more than 8,300 people were helped with housing in a year by services which could be axed next year.


The housing-related support services which the coalition members provide keep individuals in their homes, remain physically and mentally well and allow them to keep pace with the modern world. Without the services, the alliance predicted more rough sleepers would be on the streets, more admissions to A&E of homeless vulnerable people would occur and mental health inpatient admissions would rise.


The alliance’s members include Stonepillow with its services in Chichester and Bognor Regis, Bognor Housing Trust and Worthing-based GuildCare.


Stonepillow chief executive Hilary Bartle said the providers received £5.1m from the council but the work they carried out saved £38.3m in costs which would be otherwise incurred by other services.


“For every £1 West Sussex put into the budgets for the contracts, £7.50 is saved somewhere else in the funding systems in West Sussex,” said Mrs Bartle.


“The real question is not whether we can afford such services but, conversely, whether we can afford to be without them.


“Our report is based on the savings that our services enable in avoided costs to county, district and borough councils, the criminal justice system, NHS and primary care.”


It was four months ago the county council announced its cuts from next April. The coalition was formed and its lobbying secured a six-month extension on the housing-related support contracts.


“The impact of these cuts will undoubtedly mean not only the closure of these vital services but will have hugely detrimental consequences on the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society and in our communities,” said Mrs Bartle.


The report’s author, David Solomons, director of business information at coalition member, Peabody, said: “There can be no question that demand for services that the coalition provides is high.


“Logically, therefore, the absence of such services would open the floodgate to a whole host of accommodation, medical, psychological, financial and social knock-on effects and the costs of these would escalate extremely rapidly.”

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