Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Funding cut for housing charity slammed

The decision to cut funding for a housing advice charity have been slammed by Plaid Cymru.

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.

He said:
"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.

He said:
"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.


Plaid Gwersyllt said...

I really worry about the level of understanding that certain members of the Executive Board have about 'real issues' that affect 'real people.' We shouldn't have councillors 'rubber stamping' officers decisions like they did today. There is no point having an Executive Board where arguments are put forward when ALL decisions are made by Lead Members behind closed doors before the meeting. Decisions should be made on level of debate in PUBLIC; the Executive Board voted against the weight of the argument today.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

There was me and Mike Williams voted for the amendment to reduce but not cut the funding totally and I think the other 7 voted against and for cutting the whole £44,000 completely. They were Aled, Bob Dutton, Skelland, David Bithell (he should have known better), Mark Pritchard (Lead Member for Housing)m
Joan Lowe and Alun Jenkins. Hopefully issues like this will come back to haunt them at election time.

taxpayer said...

Nice to see Plaid are out of their depth once again

Anonymous said...

Another silly baseless comment by a nasty intolerant tory.

Plaid Whitegate said...

Taxpayer - it's a shame you weren't present (or were you?) to hear the arguments for retaining Shelter's expertise. Would you like to explain your reasons for cutting the aid?

Qp Joe said...

We really need independant advice for homeless people. Council advice is often trying to get people to do what they want rather than doing what's best for the client.