Senedd Committee urges Welsh Government to provide additional Housing Support Grant funding - we couldn't agree more
In December, Welsh Government published its draft budget for 2024/25. While it came in challenging circumstances, we were extremely disappointed to see that the Housing Support Grant - the primary mechanism for preventing homelessness and supporting independent living - had been frozen.
In its budget scrutiny report released in early February, the Local Government and Housing Committee expressed serious concern about the “unprecedented number of people currently living in temporary accommodation in Wales and the severe resourcing pressures this causes support services”.
Research that we shared with the committee shows that demand for homelessness and housing support services - including those that housing associations provide - has increased over the last year, as well as the complexity of people’s support needs.
Our evidence from support providers found that:
81% said demand for their services had increased since last year (2022/23);
94% said the complexity of support needs had increased since last year;
66% said they were having to operate waiting lists for their services.
Before the draft budget was announced, we shared with Welsh Government that in the event of the cash flat settlement (which has now been proposed), 77% of service providers would be extremely likely or likely to reduce capacity, 40% would be extremely likely or likely hand back contracts and 67% would be extremely likely or likely not to bid for contracts.
The Committee has now called for Welsh Government to make "providing additional funding for the Housing Support Grant allocation ahead of the final budget a priority and should explore all possible options for doing so".
We remain firm in our stance that if we want to make progress on ending homelessness for good in Wales, services need to be sustainably and fully funded to ensure they can reach everyone at risk of or experiencing homelessness in Wales.
Commenting, Rhea Stevens, head of policy and external affairs, said: "We recognise how challenging the budget is for all public services in Wales, however unless we take action and protect our vital homelessness and housing support services, the crisis will continue to deepen for many people and families across the country.
“We urge Welsh Government to reconsider the cash flat settlement, and ensure that the Housing Support Grant is properly funded in line with inflation so that we are able to protect these vital services.
“The support that housing associations and other homelessness services across Wales provide is life-changing. If we don’t see a funding increase in the final budget, the fact of the matter is that we know we are likely to lose services at a time they have never been more needed."