Welsh Government Budget threatens services for homeless people
North Wales housing association Grŵp Cynefin is calling on the Welsh Government to re-think its decision to freeze funding for homelessness services in the draft 2023/24 budget. It joins Cymorth Cymru and Community Housing Cymru in the #HousingMattersWales campaign, calling on the Welsh Government to increase the Housing Support Grant in their Final Budget for 2023/24.
Grŵp Cynefin’s dedicated business unit, Gorwel, provides services to support people experiencing domestic abuse and people who are homeless or at risk of losing their homes. A freeze in funding would put those services under threat.
Gorwel Chief Officer is writing to Members of the Senedd in its operational area asking for them to call on Ministers to reverse the decision so that their essential services can continue to be provided.
Osian Elis, Chief Officer at Gorwel says:
I’ve worked in this sector for over 20 years and I’m seeing things I’ve never seen before. We’re being contacted by people who are in full time work and are homeless. We’re seeing more and more older people – people who have worked all their lives and never had to look for help before – telling us their landlord wants their house back and they can’t find anywhere that they can afford.
Shan Lloyd Williams, Chief Executive of Grŵp Cynefin says: “We are in a cost of living crisis and across north Wales, we are seeing unprecedented levels of poverty, more families facing homelessness and domestic abuse cases on the increase. We understand the difficult situation Welsh Government is in but I think all our political representatives need to ask themselves whether it is acceptable for the poorest people in our communities to be left without the support they need to get through this crisis. Freezing the funding is essentially a significant cut – particularly with inflation at its current level. We want to do everything we can to help people weather the storm and we want our colleagues to have a decent standard of living too. The current budget fundamentally undermines our ability to do that.”
Cymorth Cymru’s analysis points out the huge discrepancy between the demand for services and the funding now available. Official statistics show that there are over 8,500 people in temporary accommodation in Wales and this figure is growing by around 500 every month. At the same time, the draft budget would put the funding for services in real terms at £18 million less than it was in 2012.
Those benefiting from Gorwel’s services are clear about the huge impact they have. One person who survived domestic abuse said: “I literally wouldn’t be here without them – they got me through hell.” An older person who was facing homelessness told us: “I don’t know where I would have been without Gorwel – I would have been in a bus shelter somewhere. It’s changed my life completely. I’m a different person.”
Osian Elis says: “Our staff worked throughout the pandemic to make sure that the people in our communities who were in the most precarious and sometimes dangerous situations had someone to turn to. This draft budget is putting the people struggling in our communities at risk and it’s saying to my colleagues, your dedication and work isn’t important.”
Shan Lloyd Williams continues: “Throughout the pandemic we saw community based organisations like ours come together with local and devolved government and what we achieved through that joint working was incredible. The impact of the pandemic isn’t over for people, in fact other global factors are exacerbating the difficulties they are facing. We want to continue to play our part in helping families and communities through the coming months and we need the Welsh Government to support us in doing that.”