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'Bitter disappointment' at council's decision to slash supported housing budget by 81%

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'Bitter disappointment' at council's decision to slash supported housing budget by 81%

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Finance, Housing

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Unite the Union has expressed bitter disappointment at Derby City Council's decision to slash its supported housing budget by 81 percent.

And the union has warned that the cuts could mean that the city's most vulnerable residents will find  themselves "without a roof over their heads".

Unite wrote to the council’s leader, Cllr Paul Bayliss, in January to warn that proposed cuts to the Supporting People funding could lead to increasing numbers of young people and families facing homelessness.

The union says that it recognises that the Labour-controlled council has been put in an "impossible position" by the Coalition's cuts to local government funding - but says more must be done.

Sally Kosky, Unite national officer, said: “Derby City Council’s decision means that at least one of the city’s few remaining providers plans to cut its service to the bone, with fewer support workers on greatly reduced salaries, some below the living wage."

Unite recently launched a campaign against the "race to the bottom" in supported housing and social care.

The group fears that the commissioning process is creating a "perfect storm with the drive to compete on price hitting service quality and driving down the pay of an already low paid workforce to breaking point".

Sally Kosky added: “Unite is bitterly disappointed by Derby’s council’s decision. We argue that rather than going along with an approach which means destroying high quality services and undermining the salary and working conditions of employees, employers should join with us and responsible funders in agreeing basic standards.

“The local liaison group ‘Homeless Link’ has reportedly described the cuts as outrageous and I am sure our members in the sector will agree.

“It has been a priority, for our members, to hold the line against cuts in services and it is tragic that Derby has set a record of extreme cuts at this point.”

All providers receiving funding for “housing related support” are currently on notice that their contracts with the council will cease with effect from the end of March 2013.

Councillor Fareed Hussain, Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: "The council recognises that housing related support services are valuable, however they are not mandatory and as such they are not the types of services that councils have to make available by law. Given the difficult financial climate, the council is considering all non-statutory areas of spend in order than it can make savings and achieve a balanced budget.

"The council is consulting on proposals which would see a small number of high priority services offered a time limited extension on their contract until September 2013. During this time, we will be commissioning a new set of services to support people with the highest priority needs, funded from the housing related support budget. These new services being in place from 1 October 2013.

"We are currently working with all affected organisations to devise contingency plans for the potential loss of funding."

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