Scots housing providers cut services as cash freeze starts to take effect

Most housing associations in Scotland that provide care for vulnerable groups are cutting services or using reserves to offset the drop in Supporting People funding.

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) said a survey of its 200 members at the end of March found a quarter had reduced services as a result of Supporting People budget cuts. A further half said they had absorbed the cuts, usually through dipping into reserves.

Scotland is in the middle of a three-year funding settlement for Supporting People in which annual funding was frozen and a new distribution formula meant some areas lost money.

The SFHA rejected Scottish executive claims that savings could be made without cuts by councils finding alternative sources of funding.

Policy co-ordinator David Bookbinder said: “There was slack in the system but that has been squeezed and some projects still seem to be facing cuts in existing services because local authorities can’t find alternative funding streams.”

He added that those projects providing care as well as housing support were particularly vulnerable because they often provided short-term help for clients which could be scaled back as users left them.

Loreburn Housing Association in Dumfries and Galloway has had to reduce its round-the-clock warden service at a hostel for homeless young people to an out-of-hours service.

Loreburn housing manager Glen Graham said: “We’ve had to explore other funding streams because the council is restricted. There is a huge demand for services and the current pot isn’t meeting that.”

Jim Thomson, chief executive of the Bield Housing Association for older people, said it spent £150,000 more last year on its Supporting People projects than the funding it received. He said the gap could rise to £280,000 this year across the 21 local authorities it works in.

“We will have to balance the books sooner rather than later. The capacity for efficiency savings is fairly limited,”  he added.


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