English | Cymraeg Tel: 029 2076 5760 Connect: Twitter

First Minister urged to deliver fair wage pledge for homelessness workers

A Welsh Government funding shortfall is pushing homelessness workers into poverty, says a new survey.

Homelessness and housing support providers have highlighted the impact of repeated Welsh Government funding freezes on the wages of vital workers in the sector in Wales.

Cymorth Cyrmu and Community Housing Cymru, which represent over 100 support providers, have written to the First Minister, urging him to provide additional funding in the final budget to deliver on the pledge to pay these key workers a fair wage.

Despite promises on the Real Living Wage at the last Senedd election, they say the Welsh Government has not provided additional funding to the homelessness and housing support sector to uplift salaries and make this a reality.

Housing Support Grant (HSG), which funds the vast majority of homelessness services in Wales, has been frozen since 2021, resulting in frontline worker wages falling below the upcoming minimum wage. These frontline workers are the very people who support others during acute crises, such as homelessness, domestic abuse, mental health and substance use issues.

Data gathered in December 2023 on the salaries of more than 3,000 workers funded by the Housing Support Grant shows:

  • 41% are currently being paid below the upcoming (April 2024) minimum wage of £11.44 per hour
  • 67% are currently being paid below the 2023/24 Real Living Wage of £12.00 per hour.

One service provider said that increasing the wages to the legally required national minimum wage in April 2024 would cost them more than £560,000, while increasing wages to the Real Living Wage would cost more than £1.1 million. The Welsh Government’s draft budget 2024/25 contains no additional funding for the HSG, making this an impossible task for support providers.

A survey of more than 600 frontline support workers conducted last year also showed how they were struggling to make ends meet:

  • 86% said they were not putting on the heating in order to save money
  • 56% were struggling to pay bills
  • 18% were struggling to pay their rent
  • 12% were feeling at greater risk of homelessness.

These concerns about frontline worker pay come on top of the previously published data, which shows that a cash-flat budget for HSG is likely to result in:

  • 77% of service providers reducing service capacity
  • 40% of service providers handing back existing contracts
  • 67% of service providers not bidding for new or re-tendered contracts.

The providers say this means there will be a reduction or complete withdrawal of homelessness and housing support services at a time when there is unprecedented demand.

For 2024/25, Cymorth and CHC say Welsh Government must increase the Housing Support Grant in line with inflation to enable frontline workers to be paid a fair wage and to avoid many services collapsing. They estimate the required uplift to be 10 per cent, which equates to £16.7 million.

Rhea Stevens, head of policy and external affairs at Community Housing Cymru, said:

‘The housing crisis is pushing more and more people towards homelessness already. To see the very people who have dedicated their careers to providing the life-changing help that others need being at risk of significant hardship too is wholly unacceptable.

‘We know Welsh Government is committed to ending homelessness in Wales. But to do so requires protecting and investing in the hard-working staff who deliver life-changing work every day in communities across Wales.’

Katie Dalton, director at Cymorth Cymru, said:

‘Fair work and the Real Living Wage were at the heart of Welsh Labour’s election manifesto and Programme for Government, and we were promised that homelessness and housing support workers would be included in the Real Living Wage commitment.

‘We urge the First Minister and the finance minister to increase the Housing Support Grant budget and deliver on the promise to pay these critical workers a fair wage for their life changing, and often life-saving work.’


Sign up to our email newsletter

Every two months we'll email you a summary of the latest news & articles on the WHQ website. Better still, if you're a fully paid up magazine subscriber, you'll get access to the latest members-only articles as well.

Sign up for the email newsletter »

Looking to advertise in our magazine?

Advertising and sponsored features are a great way to raise your profile with our readership of housing and regeneration decision makers in Wales.

Find out more »