CALLS are being made for extra support for the homeless after devastating cuts saw the number of hostel beds halved – and with the threat even more could go.
Earlier this year Warwickshire County Council slashed available hostel beds in Warwick district from 120 to 60 as part of drastic cost-cutting measure by the authority, which has to save £139million by 2020.
But Warwick district councillor Colin Quinney says homelessness is on the rise in the district and wants to see more support for some of the district’s most vulnerable people.
Coun Quinney is calling for properties already owned by the district council – such as William Walgrave House – to remain open, and extra housing acquired.
He told the Observer: “Many people in our district are forced to sofa surf, share rooms or live in hostels because they cannot get the housing they need and can afford.
“The latest cuts by the county council in this district mean we’re losing 50 per cent of our beds for vulnerable people, often young adults, ex-servicemen and women.
“We already have 3,000 local residents on the waiting list and this will simply have a knock-on effect and make the situation worse for everyone.”
Coun Quinney – who is concerned more closures could take place during the next round of budget cuts expected in the new year – added temporary bed and breakfast accommodation was set to cost the district council £50,000 more than the forecast £84,000 budget – money which he believes could be used more efficiently on covering a lease on properties to tackle the homeless problem.
He added: “Already the numbers of homeless families with urgent needs, who are being supported in bed and breakfast accommodation until they can be rehoused, are sharply higher than a year ago.
“What matters is where we put our energies. Running costs for such properties will be covered mostly from rental income and there could even be savings on the overspent B&B budget.”
Coun Quinney also wants to see the district council will improve care for rough sleepers by reducing the amount of time it takes to offer them accommodation.
At present those on the streets – of which there are around 14 – are only offered a place to stay if the weather drops below zero for three successive nights. Coun Quinney wants to see it reduced to one night with immediate effect.