Potential Disaster Avoided after Government Climb Down

It was announced this morning (9 August 2018) that the Government had ditched its highly controversial plans to change the way supported housing is funded across the country. This is fantastic news for the sector and the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people who rely on the services of charities, housing associations and the like.

The proposals had been hanging over us all for several years now and have led to organisations failing to invest in development, refusing to become involved in contracts beyond the proposed implementation date in 2020 and even closing down services due to the uncertainty and risk.

As an example of what this could have meant, Coventry Cyrenians provides more supported housing for single homeless people in Coventry and is working with both Stratford and Warwick Councils to provide much needed temporary accommodation to cope with rising numbers of homeless people.  So as of today, we have almost 200 units of accommodation. As we receive no statutory funding for any of our Coventry services, we rely almost exclusively on income from accommodation charges from residents to continue our work. 

The proposed changes would have seen us lose around 80% of the organisation’s income in an instant. In Coventry alone, that would have seen us losing about £1million a year. Without that money, the model by which the charity runs on would become unsustainable. This would likely result in the majority of people we had taken in losing their temporary accommodation, making the increasing homelessness problem even worse.

Coventry Cyrenians has been at the forefront of providing services to homeless people in the area for forty-five years. As a local organisation we exist to provide services that respond to the needs of local people.  Thankfully, the sector as a whole has managed to convince policy makers of the huge risks their proposals presented to organisations like ours and- much more importantly- one of the most vulnerable groups of people in our community.

Homelessness service providers across the country will be breathing a huge communal sigh of relief this morning, let’s hope that no permanent damage has been done. Hopefully, some of the larger agencies who may have been looking to pull out of supported housing because of the huge financial risks will reconsider their position now that the uncertainty has been lifted…