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30 November 2023

More than 70% of Welsh homelessness services ‘could be reduced or lost’ without Housing Support Grant increase

More than 70% of Welsh homelessness services ‘could be reduced or lost’ without Housing Support Grant increase

Image credit: Centre for Homelessness Impact/Jeff Hubbard

More than 70% of vital services which help to prevent homelessness across Wales could be “reduced or lost” if crucial Welsh Government funding is not increased.

The warning comes from Cymorth Cymru, and Community Housing Cymru, which together represent over 100 charities and not-for-profit housing associations in Wales.

Through their Housing Matters campaign, these organisations are calling for an urgent increase to the Housing Support Grant (HSG) in Welsh Government’s budget for 2024/25.

Every year the HSG funding helps more than 60,000 people through the provision of refuge, supported accommodation and tenancy support services, preventing people from sleeping rough, enabling people to leave abusive relationships, and helping people to overcome trauma, mental health problems and substance use issues.

The HSG is critical to preventing and alleviating homelessness in Wales, and research by Cardiff Metropolitan University has shown that for every £1 invested in services through the grant delivers a net saving of £1.40 to other public services through reduced pressure on health, social care and criminal justice services.

Last year, the HSG suffered a real-terms cut, remaining at £166.7 million for 2023/24 despite rising costs and inflation, and increasing demand. Since 2012, cuts and a lack of increases has meant that housing support funding has decreased by £24 million in real terms.

As Wales deals with the impact of rising costs and inflation, research by Cymorth Cymru and Community Housing Cymru has found that the lack of funding is negatively affecting homelessness service delivery:

  • 27% of support providers have had to reduce service capacity;

  • 66% are having to operate waiting lists for services;

  • 75% are running services at a deficit;

  • 45% of support providers have chosen not to bid for new or re-tendered contracts, as they are unable to deliver safe, high quality services for the funding available.

Meanwhile, more and more people are in need of homelessness and housing support. In fact, demand for these services has never been greater:

  • over 11,000 people are in temporary accommodation;

  • 81% of support providers report increased demand for their services since last year;

  • 94% of support providers report increased complexity of support needs since last year.

Our research shows there is now a very real risk of services significantly reducing, closing and collapsing if there is no increase to the HSG funding next year:

  • 77% of support providers have revealed they would be forced to reduce their service capacity;

  • 40% also say they are likely to hand back existing contracts;

  • 67% are likely not to bid for new or re-tendered contracts.

Katie Dalton, director of Cymorth Cymru, said: “Everyone deserves a place to call home, but our research paints an alarming picture of housing support services on the brink of collapse, which would be disastrous for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.

“Unless there is an increase in funding, providers will need to close vital services or significantly reduce delivery at a time when more people than ever are in need of help.

“These not-for-profit providers desperately want to deliver safe, high quality services that transform people’s lives, and they share Welsh Government’s ambition to end homelessness. However, this can only be achieved if the Housing Support Grant is increased in next year’s budget.”

Rhea Stevens, head of policy and external affairs at Community Housing Cymru, said: “These services make a real difference to the lives of people at risk of, or experiencing homelessness, and their loss or further reduction would be absolutely devastating for Wales. It would risk deepening the homelessness and housing crisis.

“The help that they provide is life-changing - and yet they have been under constant pressure over the last decade. Funding constraints, a huge growth in demand for support, and an increase in complexity of people’s support needs, are all pushing services closer and closer to breaking point.”

Cymorth Cymru and Community Housing Cymru are holding a joint day of action on December 1st to highlight the severe impact a cut to the Housing Support Grant could have on vulnerable people across Wales. This will include a briefing event for Members of the Senedd, with contributions from WLGA housing spokesperson Councillor Andrea Lewis, Sam Rowlands MS, Peredur Owen Griffiths MS and John Griffiths MS.

Find out more about the latest Housing Matters campaign and read the full research report behind our calls here.

More information on how to support the campaign is available here. Find out more about the Housing Matters day of action and key messages here.

For media queries contact comms@chcymru.org.uk