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Draft Budget safeguards housing support

Funding for housing-related support will be ring-fenced for the rest of this Assembly term under Draft Budget plans proposed by finance secretary Mark Drakeford.

Welsh Government had planned to combine ten government grants, including Supporting People, into one ‘super-grant’ for Early Intervention: Prevention and Support in 2019/20.

That led to fears that money previously ring-fenced for housing-related support services under Supporting People and for homelessness prevention could be put at risk, as happened in England after the ring-fence was removed.

Under the Draft Budget, Welsh Government has accepted a proposal by the Housing Matters campaign led by Cymorth Cymru and Community Housing Cymru to split the super-grant into two instead, with one grant focused solely on housing.

One ring-fenced Housing Support grant will now cover Supporting People, Homelessness Prevention Grant and Rent Smart Wales enforcement funding from April 2019 while Children and Communities Grant will cover programmes including Flying Start and Families First.

The decision was taken following work to test the new grant regime and evidence gathered from pathfinder areas and discussions with stakeholders and local authorities.

Welsh Government has published an interim evaluation report and says the new arrangements will be carefully monitored and evaluated to ensure that concerns raised by the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee and Welsh Audit Office.

Rebecca Evans, minister for housing and regeneration, said:

‘We are grateful to those who have played a crucial role in testing the Early Intervention, Prevention and Support Grant, we have listened to the outcomes of the evaluation and understand the need for stability in the planning and delivery of these crucial services.

‘We will support the sector to make a success of this new structure and are united in our commitment to improve outcomes for individuals and communities who benefit from services funded via the grants.’

Cymorth Cymru director Katie Dalton said:

We are delighted with today’s announcement and would like to thank ministers for listening to the views and expertise of people who use and deliver housing and support services in Wales. Now more than ever, it is essential that we retain a sharp focus on homelessness and we are extremely pleased that funding will continue to be targeted at services that address this issue and support people to live independent and fulfilled lives.

‘This announcement also gives us an opportunity to take a strategic approach to tackling homelessness and we are committed to working with the Welsh Government, local authorities and our members to encourage the development of high quality services that have the greatest impact on people’s lives.’

CHC chief executive Stuart Ropke said:

‘At a time when budgets are tight and financial pressures are impacting on services, we are pleased Welsh Government has acted to protect funding for homelessness and housing related support in Wales. We have worked closely with our members, politicians and civil servants over the last year to develop a constructive alternative to previous proposals, and today’s announcement will be welcome news to all who joined us in the Housing Matters campaign.

‘This decision will provide housing associations with greater stability and certainty to plan services for the long term, and allow us to work closely with Welsh Government to review and improve on current services.’

The Draft Budget also confirmed an extra £35 million of funding for Social Housing Grant.

Detailed departmental spending plans are due to be published on October 23.

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