Notts: Homelessness charity says council budget ‘does not go far enough’ to protect vulnerable

The boss of threatened homelessness charity Framework says revised council budget proposals are ‘welcome’ but do not go nearly far enough.
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Andrew Redfern, Framework chief executive, spoke just days before Notts County Council is due to set its budget for 2014/15.

Late last year the charity announced it would have to close most of its emergency homeless accommodation, including the hostel in Potter Street, Worksop, if council funding cuts went ahead.

It said other vital support services would also cease if Notts County Council went ahead and axed £3.5 million from its funding.

The proposed cuts were branded ‘devastating, unfair and catastrophic’ and a campaign was launched to urge the council to re-think.

Now the authority has revealed its amended budget proposals, due to be voted on at Thursday’s budget meeting at County Hall.

It has decided to allocate £1 million per year from its public health budget to fund housing related support services for people at risk of homelessness.

The original proposal was to reduce the council’s annual £12.5 million ‘supporting people’ funding by £4.2 million, with savings being found from housing related services. The change will now mean a reduction of £3.2 million.

In addition, £750,000 will be made available over the next three years, with changes phased in gradually with the help of providers like Framework.

“Sincere thanks are due to everyone across Notts who responded to the county council’s budget consultation. I am especially grateful to those who asked the council to ‘Think Again’ about its proposals for massive cuts to the services used by homeless and vulnerable people,” said Mr Redfern.

“Partly as a result of this unprecedented level of public engagement, some amendments have now been made to these proposals. Sadly these changes don’t go nearly far enough.”

“Back in November I warned of the devastating impact that the council’s budget proposals would have on the people we support. The availability of £1 million from the public health budget is very welcome, but hardly changes this.”

“When set against the original proposed cut of £3.5 million (adding to the £2.5 million reduction we have already seen) it is a relatively small concession.”

“The sad truth is that we will still face an overall funding reduction of £5 million (or 71 per cent) over five years. This is in contrast to other areas of the council’s expenditure which are rising faster than inflation.”

“The burgeoning cost of direct service provision needs to be tackled if the council is to meet the obligations it has to the population as a whole.”

“In the meantime these big cuts to prevention and other cost-effective services have a huge impact whilst saving only a small proportion of the council’s budget.”

Mr Redfern went on to say that Framework would not be able to help anywhere near the almost 6,000 vulnerable people it currently does each year, if the cuts went ahead as planned.

He also said the charity was eager to know how the £1 million annual public health contribution and one-off £750,000 fund to assist implementation would affect the timescale for service reductions and closures.

He added: “Phased implementation does not change the eventual outcome which will damage thousands of individuals and the communities in which they live.”

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