Last Thursday, we arranged for our AM, Elin Jones, to meet with staff and board members about our tenancy support service, as part of the Housing Matters Wales campaign by Cymorth Cymru.
The current budget for homelessness and housing related support services is 124 million pounds, and has always been ringfenced, meaning that local authorities had to spend the money in accordance with the terms and conditions of it being granted.However, the budget line for the Supporting People Programme in 2019/20 has been reduced to 0 and the funding moved to a new budget line called Early Intervention: Prevention and Support (EIPS).
Ministers are now considering merging the Supporting People grant with 9 others into a single grant for 2019/20, thus removing the existing ring-fencing.There are a number of concerns regarding this proposal, namely that the focus on homelessness will be diluted, funding could be spent elsewhere and less certainty for landlords and lenders could mean that they end investments in supported housing schemes. In England, where the Supporting People budget ring-fencing was removed, there was a 45% spending reduction on housing related support services between 2010/11, with some reported cuts of up to 80%*.Cymorth Cymru are proposing an alternative – the Homelessness and Housing Related Support Grant. This would split the proposed EIPS into two, rather than merging SP funding with non-housing grants. Homelessness and housing related support services in Wales would be protected, and the Welsh Government would still be able achieve their aims by significantly reducing the number of funding streams they have to manage.
AM’s will be debating the proposed Early Intervention: Prevention and Support grant this autumn, and we are keen to make sure that this debate is as informed as possible, and that the importance of services like ours is appreciated. We spoke at length with Elin about the nature of tenancy support, the limited services in rural areas and some of the outcomes that our service users have achieved. Emotional wellbeing and adequate housing are inextricably linked, and in order to aid recovery and preventing relapse, it is essential for people who suffer from mental illness to be able to find and keep a safe, suitable home.
* source: Safeguarding the future of homelessness and housing related support services in Wales, Cymorth Cymru