The government’s recent Rough Sleeping Strategy actively plans to halve the rates of rough sleeping by 2022 and to eliminate all rough sleeping completely by 2027.
The implementation of the strategy is to address the causes of rough sleeping in order to prevent it from happening in the first place, and to help get people who are sleeping rough into accommodation.
Additional funding is being made to local councils to intervene sooner in homelessness cases, such as Crawley Borough Council, who are the statutory authority in Crawley for homelessness.
A lot of the work with people who are sleeping rough is done through specialist charities such as Crawley Open House here in Crawley, who help to turn lives around and get people back into safe and secure accommodation.
It is an invaluable service. West Sussex Council currently helps fund Crawley Open House with discretionary funding, but with the financial pressures it faces such as the growing demand for adult social care, they would struggle to continue future subsiding of a Crawley Borough Council service. Lobbying from charities, as well as from my colleagues, has helped to ensure another year of funding is provided.
But it is time that Crawley Borough Council, who not only have the responsibility, but who also have the financial means, step up to the plate and pay this funding to Crawley Open House in future years.
What is disappointing is that last week, Crawley Borough Council’s Labour Cabinet recommended their budget for next year with no future additional funding for Crawley Open House.
Some councillors were even bragging at this meeting about their council tax rise being lower than the county council’s proposed rise, despite the fact that the county council is still subsiding one of their statutory services, namely homelessness support.
As I’ve previously stated, if they won’t amend Crawley Borough Council’s budget to ensure Crawley Open House receives the future funding they require, I will do so at the Full Council meeting in two weeks’ time. I’ve said all along that we should work together so that one way or another, this funding continues.