I read Louise Goldsmith’s shallow statement in The Chichester Observer (27/12/18) in which she tried to defend indefensible funding cuts to local homeless charities.
This is at the same time James Brokenshire (Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government) admitted numerous Conservative social policies may be to blame for rapid rise in street homelessness.
Recent UK research revealed 449 homeless deaths in a year.
There are multifactorial causes to homelessness but the recent spike has been attributed to continued austerity, housing benefit cuts, expensive private rents, lack of social housing and Universal Credit benefit reforms.
So, the timing of such an announcement shows Dickensian-thinking behind such a short-sighted decision.
Such deep cuts to crucial front-line services will have an immediate ‘cost-shunting’ impact upon local NHS and social care services.
Louise Goldsmiths does not address the fact that all local authorities now have to hold investigations into every homeless death under ‘adult at risk’ safeguarding procedures, which may highlight future statutory liabilities to fund such basic services.
It is morally questionable why councillors will still not consider accessing any of £175m WSCC reserves?
But will (no doubt) vote to increase our community charges next April to pay for dwindling services.
Louise Goldsmith uses a contentious example of a severely disabled child’s care funding in her defence for not accessing WSCC reserves.
In reality, such a case would have joint funded sources (by NHS/medical negligence) so would not be the local authority’s sole responsibility.
The question local councillors need to ask themselves is why are so many more people now living on our streets, hostels and camping in tents in local woodland since their party came to power?
I hope the councillors who voted for these cuts do not simply walk past homeless people on their way to County Hall, visit local homeless charities or food banks as a seasonal photo opportunity but instead show a real compassionate policy rethink.
DJ Gaylard, Peacock Close, Chichester