Devon County Council pauses plans to cut £1.5 million homelessness fund

  • Gareth Sorsby, Joint CEO of YMCA Exeter speaks on the council's delay

The leader of Devon County Council has paused plans to cut £1.5million worth of funding for homeless people.

The council had previously said it could no longer afford the financial support, as demand for statutory services soared. It sparked concerns it would lead to an increase in homelessness in the county.

On Wednesday 9 August, Cllr John Hart announced the decision has been paused, following concerns from the community. He added that the council needs to better understand the full impact of the cuts.

The council's current contracts with providers have been extended until the end of March 2024.

In response to the announcement, joint CEO of YMCA Exeter Gareth Sorsby said: "The announcement gives us some breathing space at least.

"As a voluntary sector organisation, we rely on contracts and funding like this and to not know whether you're going to get it in six weeks time or not is really quite challenging.

"For the staff, but more importantly it's really devastating for the young people that live in our accommodation because to be told that your money might be taken away, what does that actually mean?"

In a statement, Councillor Hart acknowledged the concerns of both organisations and the community.

He said: “It’s clear to me from having listened to those who spoke passionately at our recent meeting, and the concerns from homelessness providers and others, that we need to take stock and understand more fully the impact of any proposal.

“While Devon County Council does not have responsibility for housing or homelessness directly, the issue of homelessness has significance across a great deal of what this council does to improve life for the people of Devon – whether that is in terms of good Public Health, our support to young people and especially our care leavers as well as our adult social care services.

“We need to better understand the full impact of such a decision on all aspects of our public services, including the impact on our Team Devon District and City Council partners.

“Therefore, I am putting a pause on the decision, so that we can have a full and frank discussion with our eight District Council Leaders and officers.

“I also want to involve other agencies, such as the police and Public Health, and to see a full and accurate picture of the different situations across the county.

“By the end of this calendar year, I want to have a joint view on the way forward and a design for how the service will work in future that can be agreed upon by all of our District Council Leaders and myself.

“In the meantime, we will extend our current contracts with providers until the end of March 2024.”