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Cuts making it harder for homeless people to get help
New Homeless Link research indicates that funding cuts could be making it harder for homeless people to get help and having an impact on local communities.
In a survey of over 200 (1) homelessness services in England, 57% of respondents said that they had seen their funding fall in 2011, while 48% said they expect further cuts this year.
A majority of those surveyed (78%) said that these cuts have already had an impact on their service, with some homeless people not getting the help they need get back on their feet.
Of those who responded:
62% said fewer homeless people are moving on from hostels into accommodation
74% said fewer homeless people are moving into jobs,
70% said fewer homeless people are accessing training services, and
Over 45% said fewer homeless people are getting access for help with drug, alcohol and mental health problems.
Left without access to help, someone who is homeless is more likely to experience health, drug and psychological problems and to be involved with the police and the criminal justice system.
The findings of the Homeless Link survey suggest that the reduced ability to help some homeless people could be having a wider impact on some local communities.
Of services who responded:
58% think that anti-social behaviour has increased.
57% believe there has been an increase in street drinking, and
46% think there has been an increase in crime.
The survey of its members by Homeless Link, the umbrella body for homelessness agencies, was carried out to assess the impact that local government funding cuts are having.
Respondents reported having to take a number of steps to save money, including: decreasing the number of front-line staff (78%), making greater use of volunteers (80%) and reducing the level of help they can provide.
Charities that took part in the research reported having to close projects altogether, reduce the support given to enable people to live independently in the community and limiting help to clients with the least complex problems in a bid to protect front-line services.
Research undertaken by Homeless Link suggests that while many councils have sought to protect funding for housing related support, around 21% have disproportionately cut the Supporting People budget that helps to fund many homelessness services.
Commenting on the findings, Jenny Edwards CBE Chief Executive of Homeless Link, said:
"Protecting services for homeless people is just plain common sense. The more time someone spends on the street, the more their problems multiply. If someone without a home, job or hope is denied help to get back on their feet then, we all end up paying with more crime, ill-health and anti-social behaviour. It is time for every area to invest in a better future for homeless people and our communities.
"However, we are pleased at the signs that fewer councils are making disproportionate cuts than we first feared, as councillors hear the case that is being made to protect housing related support."
(1) - Over 200 homeless agencies in England responded to the survey, which was carried out from mid May – Mid June 2011. Not all respondents answered all the questions. Percentages are based on responses not the total survey sample. The survey asked questions relating to funding levels, service closures, service reductions, staff reductions, impacts on homeless clients and impact on local communities.