Hampshire County Council Cuts Homelessness Funding – Please Help

Labour Hampshire County Councillors
Labour Hampshire County Councillors

Hampshire County Council Cuts Homelessness Funding – Please Help

Labour Hampshire County Councillors

There are three more important consultations being run by the Hampshire County Council in respect of:

  • Cuts to Social Inclusion – Homelessness Funding
  • Cuts to stop funding three Adult Social Care Grant Schemes
  • Changes to Home to School Transport which will reduce services. The changes would affect children and young people with SEND especially

You can find these Consultations on the Hampshire County Council website.

All three consultations will have real impact on our communities and we urge you all to click on the link and read the short consultation documents for each one and have your say. These consultations are not well publicised so please also share the details widely on social media and with your friends and family.

Homeless Cuts

Homeless Funding Cuts

The cuts to homelessness funds could easily affect up to 750 people. By the councils own reckoning that’s a lot of people slipping through the net and potentially becoming homeless. The intention is to cut 15% off the annual budget for Homelessness Support Services – £360,000.

Homelessness responsibilities for local government services in Hampshire are divided between the County Council and the District, Borough and City councils. District, Borough and City Councils are responsible for housing and homelessness provision and the County Council is responsible for ensuring eligible people’s adult social care needs can be met.

Hampshire proposes to make these cuts by:

  • Prioritising Stage One and Stage Two accommodation-based support, and
  • Only delivering outreach and community-based support in those areas where Stage One accommodation-based support is not available.

During the financial year 2020-21 approximately 734 people were supported through a community support or outreach service.

Outreach and community-based support provides housing-related support for rough sleepers and people living in the local area. They also help where an individual or family is homeless or at risk of homelessness and has additional needs that are exacerbating or preventing them from addressing their housing situation without support, regardless of tenure.

They also support rough sleepers and other homeless people access accommodation and the other services that they may need like GPs for health issues, benefits claims and specialist mental health and substance misuse services, or other types of support that the individual might require.

The consultation for this is being run in tandem with another consultation to stop funding for three Adult Social Care grant schemes. You can just choose to respond to the homelessness aspects or both sets of cuts.

When responding to the consultation please consider raising the following points:

  • Not agreeing with any reduction at all in the mix of services
  • How people often need to access community outreach services urgently to help signpost to other services. They are usually highly visible and without them people will not know where to go to start to get help.
  • These services are often essential in helping people with complex needs transition where they are reluctant to take help.
  • People will fall through the gap and remain homeless when they need not. Deaths could happen.
  • The council has not tried hard enough to extract more funding from Government.

One question asks how you would suggest savings of £41miilion to adult social care. Point out that this consultation is about saving £360, 000 only, an easier amount to save elsewhere. For example, £700,000 is being spent refurbishing one library and £786,000 on refurbishing council premises.

School Bus

Home School Transport

Hampshire are looking to cut £2.5 million from this budget. Their reasoning is that despite spending less than the national average on home school transport there are other councils who spend even less. A real race to the bottom! The proposals include:

  • Instead of being picked up from home children qualifying under SEND may have to get to a pick-up point, up to a mile away from their home, to get their transport. Parents/Carers would need to consider how their child could get safely to the pick-up point. The choice of pick-up point will be based on the “efficiency” for the transport provider. This is not a viable proposition for many of the children affected.
  • Schools and colleges close to each other would share transport, mixing all age groups and needs. Putting children of different age groups together (mixing primary, secondary, and post-16 pupils); and arranging transport that mixes both mainstream pupils, and pupils with SEND, together.

This will cause severe disruption where particular needs compete and therein the potential for a real reduction in the safety and security of children as there will be less supervision and individual support. We know that separately Hampshire intend to drastically cut the number of travel escorts that provide support to SEND children. Journey times will increase significantly.

Time to Act

We know that Councils are facing tough times financially with over a decade of austerity, but the fact is that this is a deliberate choice by government, just like deciding to write off £4.3 billion in corporate fraud. That could have funded Hampshire for 5 years and most local district councils for a couple of centuries! Please help us, and the homeless, by responding to these consultations.

It was people power that stopped the Public Health Cuts. Together we must try and do this again.

Cllr Alex Crawford
Cllr Kim Taylor
Cllr Jacky Tustain