A week has passed since the Spending Review announcements and as the details of the review emerge, members in the housing, care and support sector have been sharing their views with Sitra. I have been also following emerging thinking on this through a range of forums and networks, gathering together perspectives from across the board.
While members are keen to identify glimmers of hope within the documentation – there is an overarching belief that this review will provide additional challenges and in many cases lead to real hardship and exacerbation of individual’s and families’ already difficult lives.
Key areas of comment included:
Increase age limit for shared room rate from 25 to 35. One of our members felt this was the worst element of the changes – believing that it will lead to increased homelessness among young people. They also feared that this shifting of the parameters might have knock on implications when universal credit comes in – predicting the extension of lower level JSA to be extended to 34 year olds, as opposed to the current level of 24 years.
Removal of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) from those living in Residential Care received some harsh reactions from those working with people with disabilities. With colleagues from RADAR stating that this will deprive disabled people from a social and family life outside the walls of their institution.
Protection of Homelessness Grant has received positive comments – and the protection of this important funding stream had been part of our joint submission on the Spending Review with CIH and Homeless Link.
The positive recognition of the Supporting People programme went some way towards alleviating anxieties about the plundering of this funding. It was positive that this was recognised within the Chancellors speech and gave a high profile to the importance of protecting vulnerable people. However, we will need to wait and see how the Supporting People funding is incorporated within formula grant and whether some of the already announced cuts to the programme at a local level are replicated on a wider scale.
However, of grave concern for all writing in was the large scale reduction in local authority funding. One of our contacts, a local authority cabinet member for Resources, noted that not only were authorities facing nearly 30 percent cuts in their budgets over the next four years – but these will be combined with almost 20 percent cuts in the welfare budget over the same period of time. They feared that many people are going to be driven deeper into poverty and have less access to vital services.
Next week sees the second of our Policy forums. These are new member only events which provide an opportunity to debate the current issues, and identify any collective action or resource which can be used to provide greater strength to the housing, care and support sector.
The Policy forum takes place on 2 November from 11am to 3pm. Email Geoffrey Ferres at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to attend.
I hope to see you there – where we will be talking more about the impact of the Spending Review on the sector and those that we work with.