‘Shameless’ cuts to housing support services across West Sussex will increase rough sleeping and begging, Labour members in Chichester have warned.
The Tory-led West Sussex County Council is considering terminating contracts to a number of different organisations from April 2019 as it looks to plug a massive budget gap. It is also proposing a 75 per cent cut Local Assistance Network funding, which provides a safety net for financially vulnerable people across West Sussex.
Following the announcement the West Sussex housing-related support and homelessness sector, including Stonepillow, has formed a coalition of existing providers to lobby and campaign for funding to be protected.
The Chichester Constituency Labour Party is the latest organisation to condemn the proposed cuts as a ‘callous attack on some of the most vulnerable people in West Sussex’. Gwen Miles, chair of the Chichester CLP, said: “The devastating consequences of this move will be felt across the whole constituency and indeed across West Sussex. “In Chichester Stonepillow provides a hugely valuable service. It simply beggars belief that the Tories are considering putting it at risk. “The dedication of Stonepillow’s staff deserves to be better rewarded than this shabby treatment. Even more important is the threat of increasing homelessness in the district (and, indeed, the county) that this shameless manoeuvre will bring about.”
Labour says the cuts would be short sighted because the county council would end up having to spend more money later when more vulnerable people require services the authority is statutorily required to provide. Ms Miles added: “Trying to make savings by cutting essential spending will lead to higher costs, particularly to the health service and the police. Some of our most desperately in need residents will be cast out onto the streets. It is deeply immoral, short-sighted, and the consequences will be felt by the whole community. If these cuts go ahead, we expect to see rough sleeping and begging in town centres, public places and open spaces at levels unprecedented in West Sussex.” Opponents of the cuts have planned a demonstration outside Chichester’s County Hall on Thursday September 27 at 10am. This will be before a Health and Adult Social Care Committee meeting which will scrutinise proposals.
Bryan Turner, chairman of HASC, said: “This committee will look in depth at all of these areas and make sure that all needs are being addressed before making our recommendations to the cabinet member prior to making any decisions.” The meeting will be webcast live on the county council’s website at www.westsussex.gov.uk
First published by Chichester Observer on Monday 24th September 2018.