Minister demands proof of success

    Welsh Assembly social justice minister Edwina Hart has said
    Supporting People projects must show how they improve clients’
    lives.

    She told the national conference of Cymorth Cymru, an umbrella body
    for supported housing providers, that the sector needed to give the
    assembly more evidence of the benefits of Supporting People to back
    arguments for more funding.

    “This is a challenge for service providersÉ to prove that a
    pound spent is a pound saved elsewhere,” she said.

    She added that the lack of evidence had hampered the assembly’s
    discussions with the Treasury over cuts in Supporting People
    funding. Wales received an 11.5 per cent cut in its allocation for
    2005-6.

    Paul Webb, head of housing at the Welsh assembly, told delegates:
    “It’s evidence at project level that gives the social justice
    minister the information as to why she should invest money.”

    Hart also said that councils would have to justify to her any plans
    to cut Supporting People Revenue Grant (SPRG), which funds projects
    for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups such as the
    homeless.

    Joy Kent, director of Cymorth Cymru, said this would almost
    certainly mean most cuts next financial year would come from the
    Supporting People Grant, which covers community care and supported
    housing projects for older people.

    “The Supporting People Grant will take more cuts because councils
    don’t have the time to make business cases [for cuts to SPRG] or to
    negotiate with the assembly,” she added.

    In Wales, councils decide how to spend the Supporting People Grant,
    while the assembly gives SPRG directly to accredited providers.
    But, from 2006, councils might also be given SPRG to distribute.

    The assembly is still considering this change but Kent said the
    sector was yet to be convinced that councillors understood the
    programme.

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