Brighton’s Housing Support Service under threat from cuts
Brighton’s Housing Support Service, a devoted team of six who support vulnerable households staying in emergency accommodation, is currently under review, with Brighton and Hove City Council proposing a complete shutdown of the service.
The proposal has stirred controversy in the community, with many fearful that there will be an increase in deaths of homeless clients with no other means of support. A rise in rough sleeping, increased emergency accommodation cost and increased costs to the Police, health services, children’s services and Adult Social Care are also predicted by those not in favour of the Council’s plans.
The Housing Support Service has played a vital role supporting homeless households in Brighton for the last 12 years, offering its services to families and individuals fleeing violence, those with severe physical and mental health issues, refugees, and those affected by substance use. As a service that accepts referrals from the Homeless Persons Unit, Temporary Accommodation Team, Social Services Teams, Health Visitors, Adult Social Care as well as many other agencies, it is undoubtedly seen as an essential pillar in the community by various individuals and organizations, with many dreading the potential consequences should it be considered surplus to requirements.
The proposed axing of the service comes as part of the estimated 540 full-time posts that are set to be cut as Brighton and Hove Council seeks to save £68m due to budgetary constraints laid forth by the Conservative government. It is in fact estimated that by 2019 more than £130m of funding will have been removed over a ten-year period. While an additional £2bn of funding towards the cost of social care nationwide was promised by George Osbourne in his Autumn statement, it seems that this will be entirely born out of a rise in council tax costs for residents. This also clearly doesn’t provide enough of a safety net to prevent the cutting of services, many of which are considered somewhat fundamental within the local community.
The council has claimed that there is no legal obligation to provide a dedicated team, and that much of the work done by the service will be picked up by other social services and housing departments subject to government funding. However, with the budget spread ever-increasingly thin, questions remain as to whether they will have the necessary resources to pick up the workload.
Hope remains that enough resistance from residents, and the many well respected organizations in Brighton working in social care, will be enough cause for Brighton and Hove council to decide against going through with the proposal.
GMB Union have set up an online petition which can be accessed here.
Brighton & Hove County Council contact details and additional information on Housing Support Service available at: