Funding cuts are forcing homelessness projects to cut bed numbers and rely more on volunteers and part-time staff, research finds today.
The annual SNAP study (Survey of Needs and Provision) of 500 hostels and accommodation projects shows there has been a 9% growth in the numbers of volunteers and a 21% hike in part-time staffing numbers from 2009-10 across day centres, hostels and second-stage accommodation projects, where people are moved to from hostels.
The study, which is carried out by umbrella body Homeless Link, said: “There is a risk that, as funding becomes tighter, the reliance on volunteers as opposed to paid staff may increase thereby placing increasing strain on existing staff to ensure continuity of service.”
Half the 500 projects surveyed reported a reduction in income while 11% had reduced their services. Thirty eight accommodation and advice projects had closed since the last SNAP survey, with a 3% reduction in beds. The proportion of services turning homeless people away because they were full increased from 18% to 26%.
This is despite latest homelessness figures showing an increase in numbers. From July to September 2010, English councils accepted 11,840 people as homeless, a 14% rise on the previous year.
A quarter of projects reported cuts in their Supporting People funding, which remains the primary funding stream for many projects.
Homeless Link’s Cuts Monitoring project suggest that services are expecting an average of 26% cuts in funding and 20% reduction in the number of bed spaces for the financial year 2011-12.
Homeless Link chief executive Jenny Edwards said: “This report indicates worrying times ahead for services that provide a vital safety net for people who fall on hard times.
“For the first time in years, we have seen services shrinking. This is at a time when the harsh economic climate is only likely to increase the demand for homeless services.”
The survey is funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government.
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