Homelessness cash under threat

Devon County Council may cut £1.5 million

Rob Kershaw, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk 

Councillors in North Devon have criticised plans to withdraw the homelessness prevention fund. Devon County Council recently confirmed that it is considering stopping its £1.5 million a year grant to district councils in the county as it can no longer afford it.

The council is currently consulting the public about the proposed service cut, which coincides with a recent increase in council tax.
The money goes towards housing rough sleepers at managed living hostels. Around 250 people currently benefit from it at any given time.

Over 100 more people receive support from Sanctuary Supported Living’s countywide ‘floating’ service. Just under three quarters of a million pounds from that scheme helps households avoid homelessness.

Devon County Council gives £112,000 of the grant to North Devon District Council to house people at The Maples hostel in Barnstaple, which has nine beds. North Devon Councils’ response to the consultation will ask the county authority to continue paying the grant.

Liberal Democrat council leader, Cllr David Worden, representing South Molton, is concerned. “This is something that will come back on us if it is actually closed,” he said at a full council meeting.

We need to actually get them [Devon County Council] to understand that this is a service that really needs to continue. Vulnerable people will be suffering as a result of this, and this council will have to try and pick up the pieces.”

Cllr Worden’s Liberal Democrat colleague Cllr Helen Walker (Bickington) said the subsequent loss of drugs and alcohol specialists would be “disastrous,” while Green Party Cllr Netti Pearson (Ilfracombe) urged her colleagues to respond to the consultation to try to protect the service.

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