Funding pressures hit support for homeless clients with most challenging needs, finds survey

Homelessness projects cut back on complex needs support as demand rises, finds annual Homeless Link survey of projects

Homelessness services are cutting back on support for those with the most complex needs despite growing numbers of these service users, reports Homeless Link’s annual review of the homeless support sector.

The charity’s Survey of Needs and Provision (Snap) 2013 report found that almost one in 10 homelessness projects had restricted the support they offer to those with the most complex needs in the past year.

It also found that 91% of accommodation projects had refused access to people assessed as too high-risk in 2013, compared to 79% in 2012.

Projects are also turning away people whose needs are too great to manage. In 2013 74% refused to help someone on those grounds, compared to 63% in 2012.

Homeless Link’s report says services are becoming increasingly generic in response to reductions in funding.

The report says that 38% of accommodation projects saw their income fall between 2012 and 2013. Only 8% reported a increase.

Day centres fared better with 31% having more money in 2013 compared to 26% that saw their income reduce.

The charity’s survey, which questioned 459 homelessness agencies in England, found there were 1,104 fewer beds for single homeless people in 2013 than in 2012 and a 3% reduction in the number of accommodation projects.

The report also says that the government’s benefit changes are having a significant impact with 69% of projects saying they were concerned about benefit sanctions for homeless people.

Homeless Link, which represents homelessness organisations in England, also found that the cost of housing is the main factor that is now stopping people from being able to move on from living in hostels or supported housing.

“It is encouraging that despite several years of falling funding, homeless charities have continued to meet the high demand for help. However, the housing crisis is putting this good work at risk,” said Rick Henderson, chief executive of Homeless Link.

“Many individuals are simply ending up stuck in services, unable to find a home of their own because they can’t rent or no one will rent to them.”

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