Following from the previous blog, we have been talking today to providers of homelessness support and hostel accommodation across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire who have been impacted by recent budget cuts. Supporting People, the fund which primarily paid for many of these services has been cut by approx 45% in both city and county reducing available funding from around £20m to £12m in each.
The following are a list of the reported impacts that this has had. At this time it is all we have, please don’t ask for more evidence because these groups are trying to cope with growing demand in difficult circumstances. Here are the headlines, much of which is anecdotal:
- Overall reduction in the number of bed spaces for homeless people across the county
- Closure of the only Nottingham City ‘wet’ hostel resulting in rapid increase in street drinking and low level antisocial behaviour.
- Police report increased arrests due to street drinking incidents
- Reduced opening hours for all day-service providers
- Staffing reductions at all hostels and service providers and a resulting drop in time and resources available for individual service users
- New volunteer only services are stepping up, through faith and community sources, to try to bridge the gap but struggling to support high-need cases
- Reduction in funding to 2nd stage ‘move on’ accommodation has resulted in ‘bed blocking’ in emergency hostels that would otherwise open up a flow through for service users
- Increased evidence of poor mental health due to reduced access to mental health services for this client group.
- Increase in number of reported incidents of ‘sofa surfing’ as a result of reduction in Job Centre Plus resources and ability to process JCP claimants within an acceptable period, resulting in homelessness
- Day centres reporting increased uptake of services – Friary Drop In reported 3,720 visitors between October and December 2011 evidencing the huge scale of the problem
- Higher number of services users reporting debt concerns and struggling to make repayments
- Increase in the number of people arrested giving No Fixed Abode as their address
- More recently, there has also been a rise in the number of people returned to prison for reoffending giving lack of availability of accommodation support services as a factor in their reoffending.
This is the impact of public sector cuts.