At the Homelessness Reference Group in Leicester on 6th August, Leicester City Council Director of Housing, Ann Branson, briefed the meeting on the council’s current spending review programme and how it will effect homelessness services.
Having only recently implemented a much reduced service provision in April this year, the council is about to propose more cuts, to be included in what is being called ‘Homelessness Follow Up’- which states – “This review is a follow up which will consider the impact of the earlier review and seek to achieve further cost reductions.”
The next cuts to homelessness services will be based on recommendations from Ann Branson and informed by a consultant, to be presented to Peter Soulsby and his executive team for consideration in September 2014.
Ann Branson outlined of the timetable of the introduction of further cuts, saying,
“We will implement what we can after September, but the crucial options will follow a proper timetable, depending on what they are, and that will include a timetable for consultation, which it was hoped would happen in February.”
“The review will look at the impact of the changes so far and where further savings can be made – using a ‘what if…?’ approach.”
The new review covers all homelessness services and those meeting the needs of homeless and vulnerably housed adults and families managed by the Leicester City Council Housing Division.
Key areas for further budget cuts include reviewing the running costs of the Dawn Centre and Border House Hostel and looking at options for raising the eligibility criteria for temporary housing.
The review will also assess the impact of funding which goes directly to the voluntary sector for specific initiatives and those services commissioned by the council and delivered by voluntary sector organisations. Ann Branson said: “This covers all the services that were in the previous homelessness spending review.”
Of services delivered for the council by voluntary or community organisations, she said, “If there are decisions that affect commissioned services there will be a consultation exercise.”
Another aspect of the review will be looking at evidence as to the success of the results of the previous cuts which were designed by the council to emphasise the prevention of homelessness and to reduce the reliance on supported temporary accommodation. It will also look at the amount of ‘Floating Support'(less high need support) available to people to maintain a tenancy.
Also included as areas for potential budget savings are via new developments in the council IT systems.
The council will also compare its services and the cost of services against those of other councils in deciding the level of service it will provide.
Asked whether she had been given a target figure for savings, Ann Branson said “there was a guideline, but the review was developing various options and the impact of those options.”