WEST SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCIL -
PROPOSED CUTS TO FUNDING
Please watch our video of some of our clients giving their opinion on the proposed cuts:
West Sussex Funding Update
Future funding of Crawley Open House still not clear
It's good news that West Sussex County Council has announced additional funding to homeless charities across the county BUT but after that, the future is still unclear on funding.
The County Council has announced 'transitional funding' of £750,000 for homeless charities across the whole county. After this money has been awarded to various homeless and supported housing organisations, there is no guarantee that future funding from West Sussex County Council is assured.
You can help secure our future.
Be 1 in 1000 and give a regular amount each month, ideally £10 per month, but you can choose the amount. Just click on crawleyopenhouse.co.uk/be1in1000
West Sussex Coalition of Providers
21st December 2018
Yesterday, Shelter announced that the number of homeless people that have died in last 5 years have increased by 24%. Homelessness continues to increase. In the South East, the number of people rough sleeping has increased by 261% since 2010.
Therefore, the West Sussex Coalition of Providers are extremely disappointed by West Sussex County Council’s decision to press ahead with major cuts to Housing Related Support and Local Assistance Network (LAN) funding in 2019. This is despite a unanimous recommendation from the Health and Adult Services Select Committee (HASC), on 12th December, that they should be delayed.
The final decision has been made by the Cabinet Member Cllr Amanda Jupp, in spite of all our efforts. This included a robust evidence based Avoided Costs Report which demonstrated that for the £5.1m spent on Housing Related Support and the Local Assistance Network, £38.3million is saved by the West Sussex public purse. This was based on a methodology agreed with County Council Officers yet it has been ignored.
We recognise the strain on WSCC budgets which is why we formed the West Sussex Coalition of Providers, to engage with WSCC effectively and support them in making an informed decision. We were clear that these decisions should not be made at the expense of those who are most vulnerable; people who are escaping domestic violence, homeless, elderly, young, or have mental and physical ill health. The vulnerable people that we support do not have a voice which can be heard by those making the decisions. This has been confirmed by the decision of WSCC despite service users raising their concerns in the video which was shown at the Health and Social Care (HASC) select committee meeting on 12th December.
The video of our service users demonstrates the impact of these cuts in their own words, as well as the extremely positive work which takes place across the county:
As a coalition of providers, we are very saddened that the Cabinet disregarded the warnings and concerns which came from ourselves, seven District and Borough councils, the NHS, the Police and Probation Services and was supported by the Health and Social Care (HASC) select committee on 12th December.
The Cabinet Member for Adults and Health has approved for:
the Housing Related Support budget to be cut to £4.6 million in 2019/20 and £2.3 million in 2020/21.
current Housing Related Support Contracts to be terminated by 30th September 2019.
West Sussex County Council (WSCC) to work with strategic partners, stakeholders and providers to remodel services.
WSCC to collaborate with District and Borough Councils to develop a homeless reduction strategy for the county.
the Local Assistance Network (LAN) budget to be cut from £807,000 to £200,000, as of 1st April 2019. The focus of the funding will be for children and families to meet statutory duties and there will only be a small allocation to social enterprises (£50,000 in total).
There is a call-in period to allow for this decision to be challenged by other WSCC members until the 31st December and we urge County Council Elected members to exercise their right to do so.
These cuts will lead to more rough sleepers, more lives lost and remains a deep concern to all members of the West Sussex community. 97% of those responding to the consultation process disagreed with the recommendations.
What are the West Sussex Coalition of Providers asking for?
We are asking for a 12-month extension to contracts which will ensure stability in the sector whilst we take on the challenge of:
building a West Sussex Homelessness Reduction Strategy to be developed and agreed.
remodelling services to meet the needs demonstrated within the strategy.
identifying sustainable and stable funding.
commissioning and procuring the services.
We do not believe that this can all be effectively undertaken within the 8-month timescale and again, the impact will be on the most vulnerable in our community.
The Local Assistance Network is being hit by 75% cuts as of 31st March 2019 which will be awful for those who are in financial crisis - there will be no longer be a safety net.
The extension was unanimously supported by all those who provided witness statements at the HASC on the 12th December and the HASC select committee recommendations.
Since the forward plan was announced in September 2018, the West Sussex providers mobilised to form the Coalition, to enable a coordinated approach with the County Council officers and elected members to explain the human and financial value of services.
The Coalition has little comfort in believing that the proposed decision and resulting process will be undertaken within the 8-month timescale. WSCC have already stated that this is a very ‘challenging timescale’ in their report to the HASC select committee on the 12th December. The result will be a cliff edge for those in financial crisis at the end of March 2019 and those with housing support needs at the end of September 2019.
Remember that for every £1 spent on these services £7.50 is saved in avoided costs elsewhere in on other services in West Sussex.
The proposed cuts to funding for Supported Housing projects were discussed on BBC Sunday Politics:
Our response to the original Forward Plan was the following statement:
"Crawley Open House is alarmed by the West Sussex County Council ‘Forward Plan’ which was published on August 29th 2018. More specifically, the plan to “approve a process which would lead to the termination of current housing support contracts with providers from April 2019 onward.”
Crawley Open House runs a twenty four bed hostel for homeless people with a Crawley or West Sussex connection. The hostel has been partly funded by West Sussex County Council through a housing support contract. In 2018-19, the value of the contract is approximately £250,000, which pays for our front line hostel staff twenty four hours a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year.
Providing supported housing is, by definition, a way of helping vulnerable people to achieve the most basic and fundamental of needs. A need recognised by Government in its recent Homelessness Reduction Act (2018) and Rough Sleeping Strategy which aims to eliminate homelessness by 2020.
Since Crawley Open House opened in 1996, we have helped many thousands of homeless and disadvantaged people through their darkest times and back on to their feet. At the moment, we are helping more people in need than ever before through our hostel, day centre and in the community. Demand for our help has increased year on year and the current socio-economic climate shows no sign of things improving for those that are already struggling. In fact, Crawley was recently recognised as the poorest local authority in the South East of England for social mobility.
With all of the above in mind, we are deeply concerned to hear that we may lose the support of West Sussex County Council should they move forward with their plans to terminate our contract with them. Reducing our grant to zero would seem to contradict governmental aims and would have a devastating effect on our ability to meet the needs of disadvantaged people already facing overwhelming challenges.
If we are forced to radically cut back our services to the people of Crawley and West Sussex or even to close our doors in April 2019 then the true cost of this decision will have to be met by already overstretched services such as Crawley Borough Council, the NHS, Sussex Police, etc., at a cost far greater than the planned saving.
We urge West Sussex County Council to reconsider their plan and to continue to work with Crawley Open House to meet the needs of the homeless and disadvantaged."
On the 29th August 2018, West Sussex County Council released a 'Forward Plan'. The full document can be downloaded here.
The plan outlines many decisions that the Council is planning to make but of enormous concern to us is the section in the picture below:
Since the news broke, we have been overwhelmed by the level of support and kindness that the community has shown. It is fantastic to have our work appreciated so much and we hope that you will continue to support us as we fight to exist so that can continue to help those in need.
West Sussex Funding Update
An update on our current situation
Our contract with West Sussex County Council to provide supported accommodation for homeless adults was due to expire on March 31st 2019.This contract has now been extended until September 30th 2019. We are, of course, very pleased to have this extension and to be able to carry on our work until then.
It is however, only a very short extension. We are not certain of what our situation will be when the extended contract ends in six months time though every indication we've received suggests that our funding will be cut to some degree.
With more people in need than ever before, finding alternative funding so that we can ensure that our work continues beyond September is vital. If you can help us with a regular donation, no matter how large or small, then please do so by clicking here.
Thank you for your support.