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Welsh Assembly committee backs Cymorth's call to increase Housing Support Grant funding

ELGC report.pngA campaign by Cymorth Cymru, Community Housing Cymru and Welsh Women’s Aid calling for an increase in funding for homelessness prevention and housing-related support services, was backed by a Welsh Assembly committee this week.

The Equality, Local Government and Communities (ELGC) Committee has supported a campaign for funding to be increased for the Housing Support Grant, the Welsh Government’s principal funding stream for preventing homelessness and supporting people to live independently. It recognised the Ministers’ desire to tackle the issue of homelessness but stated that ‘the budget allocations do not seem to reflect this prioritisation’. It goes on to say that ‘If it is a priority for the Welsh Government, it should be funded sufficiently.’

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Download the ELGC Committee budget scrutiny report here.

The ‘Housing Matters’ campaign shines a light on the impact that cuts to the Housing Support Grant have had on local authorities, the third sector and social landlords, prompting concerns that crucial homelessness prevention and housing services have now reached a ‘tipping point’.

Figures show that funding for housing support services in Wales were cut by £37million* between 2012 and 2018, increasing pressure on the services which help more than 60,000 people to avoid homelessness, escape abuse, live in their own homes and thrive in their communities.

Read the Housing Matters report and find out more about the campaign here.

 

Thomas Bunce, Housing Support Officer with Merthyr Housing Association said:

“Since the Housing Support Grant came into effect, we have been able to help 50-70 people each year. Part of my role is to help tenants with their fuel bills, make sure they are claiming the correct welfare support and liaise with healthcare providers.

“Through the Housing Support Grant, we have recently helped a young homeless person who is wheelchair bound move into temporary accommodation, supporting him in applying for benefits, emergency funding, white goods and pre-tenancy support in preparation to move into permanent housing.

“Another tenant was at risk of eviction due to rent arrears following her husband’s terminal illness. We worked with the tenant and her family to ensure she claimed Universal Credit, receive financial assistance following her husband’s death and to attend appointments. The tenant is now in work and slowly reducing rent arrears.

“Without the Housing Support Grant, these tenants, along with many others, would have been facing homelessness.”

 

Katie Dalton, Director of Cymorth Cymru said:

“We welcome the ELGC Committee’s budget scrutiny report and their recommendation to increase the Housing Support Grant. We agree that Ministers have shown a genuine desire to prevent homelessness but we fully support the Committee’s view that the budget allocation needs to reflect this.

“Homelessness and housing support services are at a tipping point, having faced over £37million in real term cuts since 2012, and investment is absolutely crucial if we are to reverse the recent increase in homelessness. We urge Ministers to allocate additional funding in their final budget so that we can achieve our shared ambition of ending homelessness in Wales.”

 

Stuart Ropke, Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru said:

“Demand for Housing Support Grant funded services has increased significantly over recent years, but funding in real terms has been cut. Additional investment is crucial if we are to achieve our shared ambition to end homelessness, keep people in their homes and provide safe places for women fleeing domestic abuse.

“This week, we welcomed a report by the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee which backed our campaign for further investment in the Housing Support Grant. We now urge Welsh Government to increase funding for the Housing Support Grant, so that we can continue delivering the scale and quality of services needed to end homelessness.”

 

Eleri Butler, Chief Executive of Welsh Women’s Aid said:

“We welcome the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee backing of our campaign. The Housing Support Grant provides critical funds for our members supporting survivors of domestic and sexual abuse across Wales. We are seeing a significant increase in survivors being referred to specialist support services across Wales without equivalent increases in funding. Last year, 512 survivors were unable to be supported in refuges because of a lack of space, capacity or resources.

“The Welsh Government have committed to deliver secure, sustainable funding for specialist services in its 2016 National Strategy; the Housing Support Grant is a critical fund in delivering this. An increase in investment in this grant would help ensure that no survivor in Wales is turned away from lifesaving and life changing support when they need it most.”

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© Cymorth Cymru 2020
Company Registration No: 5093332
Charity No: 1116774