Shelter Cymru's £44,000 annual grant from Wrexham Council that enabled it to provide specialist housing advice for people facing homelessness has been cut.
Plaid Cymru councillor Arfon Jones, who sits on the council's executive board, was fiercely opposed to the funding cut and tried to persuade fellow councillors that a compromise deal that saw the charity receive £18,000 from the council would be in both Wrexham's and Shelter's best interests.
"The decision to cut the funding from Shelter makes no sense at a time when the council admits the demands on its own homeless services has risen 17% in the past year. All the councillors present accept that Shelter is doing a good job. My argument is that Shelter is doing a job that the council cannot provide in many cases as it could lead to a conflict of interests.
"In addition, Shelter is the only housing advice team locally that can offer expert legal advice for people facing re-possession and eviction and I am very concerned that we will lose that expertise at a time when evictions and homelessness are rising due to the recession."
Cllr Jones added: "Shelter is facing funding cuts from other sources and I would suggest that continuation of any services by Shelter in this county would be under threat if the council cuts its funding entirely."
He said that would mean the following cuts:
- No representation for council tenants facing eviction in court.
- No independent review of homeless decisions.
- No independent advice on appealing decisions of the local authority.
- No representation in court for home owners facing repossession
- Assistance with suitability of accommodation.
- Advice on disrepair including disrepair in council housing.
- No representation for home owners because they are not eligible.
"I honestly believe that if we cease to fund Shelter Cymru completely the numbers of homeless applications WILL increase, possibly quite significantly. There is no advice provider in this County Borough than can provide the level of expertise in housing issues that Shelter can."
Councillor Marc Jones, for Whitegate ward, supported his fellow Plaid Cymru councillor. He said:
"The rise in the numbers of people using the council's own homeless service shows that this is not the time to be cutting this specialist service.
"The council has a Homeless Prevention Fund, which is currently meant to be used to stop people being made homeless. I have concerns about the efficiency of this fund. This could be used more effectively to fund the council's advice service rather than clawing back money from Shelter."
Despite the arguments, councillors voted 6-2 to cut all funding for Shelter Cymru.