Man sitting with his head down

Hampshire County Council (HCC) is proposing significant funding cuts, including the potential decommissioning of its social inclusion funding which will jeopardise much-needed support for homeless services across the county. The proposed cuts are being driven as HCC grapples with a £132 million shortfall and, if the cuts to homelessness support services go ahead it would leave organisations like Two Saints without the necessary funding to support individuals experiencing homelessness in the county. 

The decision will be accompanied by the results of a public consultation which ensures peoples voices can be heard. The public consultation survey can be completed here before it closes on 31 March 2024. 

The proposed cuts will directly impact those experiencing or at risk of homelessness and needing support. To put this into perspective, in 2022/23 services funded by HCC supported over 900 people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. However, if HCC proceeds with its proposal to cease funding homelessness services without alternative solutions, these individuals may be left with no choice but to seek alternative accommodation or face the stark reality of sleeping rough. 

The impact of these proposed cuts will also place a greater strain on our health, social care, criminal justice and housing systems. Research from Homeless Link indicates that people experiencing homelessness are three times more likely to access A&E services, highlighting the interconnected nature of these issues. 

The proposals also come at a time when recent data has revealed a worrying surge in rough sleeping within Hampshire, surpassing the national average. Between April and June 2023, 2,020 households across Hampshire were assessed as either homeless or threatened with homelessness, a 19% increase on last year’s figures. 

However, Hampshire is not the only council to announce financial challenges, the severity of the situation has recently prompted over 100 District Councils, including East Hampshire, Portsmouth, Fareham and Havant to write a joint letter to the Chancellor to ask him to intervene with a £100 million cash injection to prevent the collapse of local homelessness services. 

The urgency of preserving homelessness support services cannot be overstated, particularly amidst the escalating homelessness crisis gripping Hampshire and the rest of the nation and, far from costing more to fund these services research from Crisis indicates that preventing homelessness for one year would actually reduce public expenditure by up to £10,000 per person. Applied to the 350 people at risk of becoming homeless if these cuts were to go ahead this could be an additional cost of £3.5 million from the public purse. 

“In the face of these daunting challenges, it is imperative that we all come together to advocate for the preservation of vital homelessness support services,” stated Richard Gammage, chief executive of Two Saints.

“together, we can work towards securing the necessary resources to safeguard the wellbeing of the most vulnerable in our society.” 

Hampshire County Council will deliberate its budgetary decisions after the public consultation on the proposed funding cuts closes at the end of March 2024.

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