Notts: County Council makes changes to homeless budget proposals

Notts County Council has pledged to cut less from its budget proposals for local homeless services following public feedback.

Wednesday, 19th February 2014, 5:00 am

The authority is proposing to allocate £1million annually from its public health budget to fund housing related support services for people at risk of homelessness.

The original proposal was to reduce the council’s annual £12.5million Supporting People funding by £4.2million, with the savings being found from housing related support services.

The revised proposals will mean a reduction of £3.2million.

In addition, the council will make available £750,000 to be used over the next three years and will work with providers to enable the required changes to be phased in gradually.

The authority received 2,368 responses on its Supporting People budget proposal, 69 per cent were against compared to 20 per cent in favour.

The council has also looked at an alternative to the Notts Welfare Assistance Fund, which is proposed to cease in April.

It will be retaining four welfare benefit workers at a cost of £90,000 to assist vulnerable people needing benefits advice, including people facing homeless issues to make sure they access the benefits that they are entitled to.

The advice workers will work closely with district and borough councils, the Department for Work and Pensions and community organisations to provide detailed support to people who are struggling with the impact of welfare reform changes.

Coun Muriel Weisz, chairman of Notts County Council’s adult social care and health committee, said: “We have listened to the significant response to the Supporting People proposal and have put some of the funding back to reduce the impact on local homeless people.”

“The consultation has shown the impact of homelessness on people’s lives and the necessity for all relevant agencies to work together to support these residents at points of crisis.”

“Unfortunately, the impact of the Government cuts on our budget means we must prioritise our statutory services – those we must do – over discretionary services such as the homeless support services.”

“Housing related support services were funded by central Government through its Supporting People grant which ended three years ago so we are unable to provide all the services that were funded by this grant.”

“We are keen to work with local providers to find efficiencies to make the funding go further and seek alternative sources of funding to support services.”

Discussions will take place with key partners in district and borough councils and in health to establish how the additional £1 million can best be used to respond to the causes and effects of homelessness and support people to regain independence.

More than 38,000 responses were received during the council’s 20-week budget consultation which closed on Friday 17th January.