Campaigners sleep rough outside County Hall to protest against funding cuts
Campaigners have slept rough outside Chichester's County Hall to protest against proposed cuts to funding for charities providing homeless support services.
West Sussex County Council is reviewing its contracts worth a combined £6.2m with a range of organisations that were due to end in April 2019 as it looks to plug a massive budget gap.
The charities involved have warned that losing this source of funding would https://www.worthingherald.co.uk/news/politics/rough-sleeping-will-increase-if-charity-s-funding-is-cut-1-8626440|lead to service reductions|lead to service reductions} and some closures in areas including supported housing for vulnerable young people and hostels for the homeless.
Amanda Jupp, cabinet member for adults and health, announced on Friday (October 19) that the contracts will be extended by six months until September 2019 while the review is carried out.
At the same meeting debates were held on a motion against the cuts and a petition signed by more than 10,000 people opposing the proposals.
On Thursday night a group of eight campaigners spent the night in sleeping bags just outside of County Hall, including Labour members from both Crawley and Horsham.
David Hide, chair of Horsham Labour Party, was joined by his CLP’s secretary Karen Symes, treasurer Kevin O’Sullivan and vice-chair Michael Symes.
He said: “We feel very strongly that the proposed cuts on top of the policies pursued by central government which has seen the introduction of a benefits cap, universal credits, and the move away from building much needed council houses (social rented homes) which has already pushed so many people to the margins, would have a devastating impact on those people most in need of support.
“We believe that the ongoing attack by the Conservative Party both locally and nationally on the most vulnerable in our society is an outrage, and must be opposed.”
He added: “We are pleased that our campaign has already delivered a climbdown and the Conservative administration has agreed to extend funding to all of the projects for a further six months, but this is not good enough.
“We are calling on the county council to commit to ring fencing all money it currently spends on housing support projects so that vital services can be maintained and those most in need will continue to be supported.”
At Friday’s meeting, Mrs Jupp said a final decision has not been made and is due in December. Until then they would be working with district and borough council colleagues as well as a coalition of the service providers to find a long-term sustainable solution.
She apologised for any anxiety caused by the original publication of the proposals, but described how the county council could ‘no longer deliver services on our own’.