Swale Asks KCC Councillors To Oppose 'Homeless' Cuts

Swale Asks KCC Councillors To Oppose 'Homeless' Cuts

Swale Borough Council is writing to local Kent County Councillors to ask them to oppose £2.3 million of cuts to homelessness support.

The proposals to stop funding Kent Homeless Connect are part of Kent County Council’s budget proposals being discussed  next Thursday (10th February).

The service was launched by Kent in 2018 to “create a fairer, more accessible and consistent service for vulnerable people” so “homeless people with support needs will now benefit from more flexible, tailored, recovery-focused provisions”.

The service is delivered by the charities Porchlight and Look Ahead and specialises in supporting people who have multiple needs – such as mental health needs, experience of trauma or substance misuse – and who would otherwise struggle to access the housing services they need.

They support vulnerable people who need help to get away from rough sleeping, or to maintain a tenancy. These people have often experienced trauma, are misusing drugs or alcohol, or have mental health needs.

District councils like Swale only found out about the proposals when the draft budget was published in January, despite assurances that any such decisions would be subject to meaningful discussion and consultation.

Cllr Ben Martin, cabinet member for housing at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “These cuts came out of the blue and potentially have a significant impact on our own finances. Our own budget setting is already well advanced, and Kent’s lack of consultation – not for the first time – raises the prospect of passing on significant unexpected costs to us. This service supports the most vulnerable people and has proven it can get them back into permanent accommodation much more effectively than the general provision we can offer. These people often need specialist mental health support or help with overcoming drug or alcohol issues".

Ben then went on to add: "Kent Homeless Connect brings both expert support from specialist charities, and the benefits of economies of scale to provide a genuine lifeline to these people. Since the announcement, we have asked numerous times for the detailed impact assessment of the plans, but as far as we know these haven’t been done, which makes us think the true implications of the plans have not been thought through. We do understand that Kent – like all local councils – faces significant budget pressure, but this cut would only pass on more expense to district councils, NHS services and their own social care services. The Government have been crystal clear that they want to end rough sleeping, and this proposal flies in the face of that promise. I have written to our local Kent councillors to ask them to help us avoid what could prove to be a costly decision that leaves some of the most vulnerable people in our communities without the support they need to keep a roof over their head.”

We will keep you up-to-date with any developments on this story.

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