‘Cautious’ spending approach leading to homelessness

David Sheldon, also chief executive of charity Horsham Matters
David Sheldon, also chief executive of charity Horsham Matters

A ‘cautious spending approach’ to spending discretionary housing payments is causing homelessness in the worst cases - according to one Lib Dem councillor.

Speaking during a full Horsham District Council meeting last Thursday (July 25) David Sheldon (LDem, Denne) questioned the minutes of a Census Joint Committee meeting and said two paragraphs ‘hid a huge amount of information behind them’.

Census is a joint service run by Horsham, Mid Sussex, Adur district councils, and Worthing Borough Council providing shared ICT services, and revenues and benefits service.

The minutes read: “Discretionary Housing Payments showed low levels of awards by each of the participating authorities and a cautious approach to spending the available budget.”

Mr Sheldon said: “What this is disguising a number of residents are struggling to pay their bills because we are not using our discretionary payments. In the worst cases this is leading to residents being made homeless. I think a bit more needs to be covered on these two paragraphs.”

He also drew attention to the minutes mentioning an increase in volume of telephone enquiries and concerns raised about many callers not being able to make contact.

Mr Sheldon added: “People are having difficulty coming through. Cases are not being dealt with, some cases and being suspended, and as a result a number of people are finding an increased pressure on their resources, because they can’t get through and get their benefits dealt with.”

Presenting the minutes, Gordon Lindsey (Con, Billingshurst), chairman of the Census Joint Committee, apologised for not being fully briefed as he had just returned from holiday.

He promised to investigate the points raised by Mr Sheldon further and report back.