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Joint call for boost to Housing Support Grant

Funding for Welsh services including homeless hostels and women’s hostels was cut by £37m between 2012 and 2018, according to a report released on Monday.

The report, Housing Matters, highlights the impact of the cuts on local authorities, the voluntary sector and housing associations and raises concerns that crucial homelessness prevention and housing services have now reached a tipping point.

Ahead of the Welsh Government’s draft budget announcement due next week, Cymorth Cymru, Community Housing Cymru and Welsh Women’s Aid say funding must be increased for the Housing Support Grant, which delivers homelessness prevention and housing-related support services in Wales.

With UK political parties’ general election spending promises likely to result in an increased funding pot for Wales, they say some of this should be directed at services that are a lifeline for thousands of Welsh people.

Housing Support Grant (HSG) was created in April 2019 following the merger of Supporting People, Homelessness Prevention Grant and Rent Smart Wales Enforcement funding streams. It funds the vast majority of homelessness and housing-related support services in Wales, including homeless hostels, domestic abuse refuges, supported accommodation schemes and tenancy support services.

According to the report, the Supporting People budget has been reduced from £139m in 2011/12 to £124m in 2019/20. Taking into account inflation, £139m in 2012 would equate to over £161m in 2018. This equates to a real terms funding cut of £37m from the Supporting People budget between 2012 and 2018.

Katie Dalton, director of Cymorth Cymru said: ‘The Housing Support Grant funds transformative services that prevent homelessness and support people to thrive in their homes and communities. Our members have worked extremely hard to deliver high quality, person-centred services, despite having to cut costs as budgets have declined. However, we fear that services have now reached a tipping point and believe that additional investment is critical to ensure that people experiencing or at risk of homelessness can get the support they need.’

Stuart Ropke, chief executive of Community Housing Cymru said: ‘Housing associations in Wales provide over half of the supported accommodation needed to help people out of homelessness. Last year, the Housing Support Grant enabled us to deliver vital services across Wales to support people to manage their tenancies and prevent homelessness. As well as these services, we are working to ensure that no one becomes homeless as a result of leaving social housing.

‘To support our work, we are calling on Welsh Government to invest in the Housing Support Grant, so that we can continue delivering the scale and quality of services needed to end homelessness.”

Eleri Butler, chief executive of Welsh Women’s Aid said:Although Welsh Government committed to deliver secure, sustainable funding for specialist services in its 2016 National Strategy, we’ve yet to see this become reality. Domestic abuse alone costs public services and communities £66 billion a year in England and Wales, so it’s not unreasonable that we invest a sufficient portion of this cost to save lives, to build the capacity of specialist services, and deliver a national commitment that no one is turned away from specialist support in Wales when they need it most.’

The full report is available at www.cymorthcymru.org.uk/index.php/download_file/view/2133/

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