Supporting People cuts could force closure of small hostels and refuges

    Government cuts in the Supporting People budget could force the
    closure of services for vulnerable people, service providers have
    warned, writes Shirley Kumar.

    Managing director of Housing Supporting Management Joe Halewood
    said homeless hostels and women’s refuges with fewer than 11
    beds which provide around-the- clock support will be hardest

    The government is demanding that councils make 2.5 per cent
    “efficiency gains” this year and have warned them to
    expect further cuts in next year’s Supporting People budget.
    It is forcing some to cap the amount spent on individuals’

    Halewood said if support per person was capped it would lead to
    more rough sleepers, “sofa surfing” and an increase in
    single people living in B&B accommodation.

    For example, Bristol Council is proposing a maximum of up to 16
    hours’ support for housing-related intensive care. Blackpool
    Council is believed to be limiting the cost of support to the
    social services domiciliary rate.

    “If a hostel has 10 beds and is offering 24/7 cover and the
    average working week is 38 hours, the hostel will require around
    four and a half staff to make up the 168 hours required.

    “If a council is only going to pay 16 hours per person per
    week on intensive care, then the hostel will have a shortfall and
    cease to be viable,” said Halewood.

    Novas group housing management co-ordinator John Souray said a
    consultation document on the Bristol proposals
    “alarmed” him.

    “We can see right in front of our eyes a gap in provision
    being created, a hole in the welfare net for people to fall
    through,” he added.

    A Bristol Council spokesperson said it was consulting providers
    over its Supporting People strategy. “There has been no hard
    and fast position taken with regard to maximum hours of support.
    But it is important that providers and service users are aware that
    services cannot be open ended,” he said.

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