Housing support funding for West Sussex charities to be cut by £4million

Housing support cuts protest outside County Hall in October
Housing support cuts protest outside County Hall in October

Funding for charities providing a range of housing support service across West Sussex is set to be cut by £4million a year.

West Sussex County Council has been reviewing its contracts worth a combined £6.3m with a number of organisations that were due to end in April 2019.

These were extended until September 2019 until the piece of work was completed.

Today (Tuesday December 18), the council announced a core budget of £4.6m for 2019/20 and £2.3m in 2020/21, which will be used to meet its statutory duties and ‘address the risk that reducing targeted prevention will lead to increased demand pressure in other areas’.

New contracts will be issued in September.

The decision notice agreed by Amanda Jupp, cabinet member for adults and health, said: “Additional assurance on the implementation period and impact mitigation will be provided through a continuous review process with providers and partners between January and September 2019 to ensure that the revised contracts are deliverable and the impact of these changes are minimised.”

It described how the council would work closely with partners, providers and stakeholders to remodel the service offer in line with statutory responsibilities, revised service priorities and the financial envelope.

The authority would also collaborate with district and borough councils to facilitate a county-wide homelessness reduction strategy so funding streams available from central Government can be sourced.

An officers’ report attached to the decision adds: “The current budget for services provided through the housing related support contracts is £6.3million and supports services across the county.

“This is funded from the base council budget rather than through any dedicated or general grant.

“Council wide pressures across the entire range of services means that all financial commitments have to be tested and challenged.

“Opportunities to close the budget gap that the council faces are limited due to the requirements to fulfil its statutory duties and demand pressure in children and adults services.

“The council also recognises that districts and boroughs also face significant financial pressures and that it is unlikely that other parts of the system can simply plug the gap if this funding is removed.”

Earlier this month, Hilary Bartle, chief executive of charity Stonepillow, warned that the cuts would lead to more deaths among rough sleepers.

Meanwhile Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne gave a stark warning about the hundreds of sex offenders currently supported and monitored on their release from prison.

More than 10,000 people signed a petition calling for the proposals to be dropped, while opposition members have described the cuts as ‘monstrous’.

But the county council’s Tory leadership says it has had to review the spending given huge budget pressures.

Separate decisions have seen the council agree to reduce its Local Assistance Network (LAN) budget from £807,000 to £200,000 a year alongside a remodelling of the existing service as well as cutting income for adults receiving arranged care through changes to the Minimum Income Guarantee.

Changes to the council’s Integrated Prevention and Earliest Help Service have also been approved.

According to the county council in order to manage a reduction in Government funding it is proposing to develop a more targeted family support service, to continue to support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged families in West Sussex.