West Sussex Coalition of Providers
West Sussex County Council proposed within its Forward Plan of Key Decisions on the 30th August 2018 their intentions to terminate all existing housing related support contracts from April 2019. It also proposed a 75% reduction to the Local Assistance Network which provides a safety net for those who are financially vulnerable across West Sussex. This announcement was met with widespread shock and alarm. It was proposed that the final decision for this would be made on the 27th of September 2018.
At a time of increasing levels of poverty, homelessness and with existing services experiencing both higher referral levels and increased complexity of cases, it seems inappropriate and short-sighted to consider removal of services which provide a safety net to the most vulnerable across communities. Although this would save money in the short-term, loss of these services will only increase pressure and costs on other statutory services (health, social care, police, other emergency services and housing).
Following the announcement by West Sussex County Council on the 30th August 2018, West Sussex housing related support and homelessness sector have come together to form a coalition of existing providers to lobby and campaign for the protection of funding for the County.
This has already had a successful impact in that on the 11th September 2018 a revised Forward Plan of Key Decisions was issued. The new proposal is that the Cabinet Member will during September 2018 lay out a process for consultation and engagement and agreement to this proposal will be sought on the 27th September. The consultation process will inform future funding options for housing-related support and the Local Assistance Network across the county.
The Coalition has now received confirmation from the Leader of WSCC that any final decisions will not be made until December 2018 (the Forward Plan had originally stated September), and only after an engagement and consultation process has been followed which will take account of the work and submissions.
The Coalition of Providers are well aware that there is still a lot of work to do and a long way to go in terms of protecting a baseline for funding these essential services. We are pleased that the County Council are proposing a consultation and engagement period and want to cooperate fully with this process.
We have asked for a number of key areas to be clarified:
1. That existing contracts be extended in line with the new consultation period.
2. That the Coalition of Providers have representation on the group overseeing the consultation process
3. That the Coalition are able to actively participate on all the relevant sectoral and area-based task and finish groups as many of our clients do not sit neatly into one box.
Chair of the Coalition of Providers group (Hilary Bartle – CEO – Stonepillow) comments: 'On behalf of the Coalition I wish to say how encouraged we have been by the support from across the wider public and all political spectrums, in voicing concerns and lobbying against the County Councils proposals to cut all funding for these essential services. We are reassured by the County Councils latest announcements to now hold a full consultation and we are resolved to fully engage and work with the council during this process to protect housing related support services across the County of West Sussex.'
For more information please contact the Chair of the Group Hilary Bartle, CEO of Stonepillow, on 01243 537934 or by mobile on 07392086964, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretariat: John Holmstrom – CEO – Worthing Churches Homeless Project: email@example.com, phone number 01903 680741