Unite warns Derby faces homeless crisis after council votes

Tim Lezard

Unite LogoSome of Derby’s most vulnerable residents could find themselves without a roof over their heads after councillors voted to slash the supported housing budget by 81%, warns Unite.

The union had last month written to Derby city council leader Paul Bayliss to warn that proposals to cut the Supporting People funding could see increasing numbers of young people and families facing homelessness.

The union recognises that the Labour-controlled city council has been put into an impossible position by communities secretary, Eric Pickles and the coalition government’s staggering cuts to local government funding, but says more must be done.

Unite national officer Sally Kosky said: “Derby city council’s decision means that at least one of the city’s few remaining providers plans to cut its service to the bone, with fewer support workers on greatly reduced salaries, some below the living wage.”

Unite has recently launched a campaign against the ‘race to the bottom’ in supported housing and social care. The union fears that the commissioning process is creating a perfect storm with the drive to compete on price hitting service quality and driving down the pay of an already low paid workforce to breaking point.

Sally Kosky said: “We’re bitterly disappointed by Derby’s council’s decision. We argue that rather than going along with an approach which means destroying high quality services and undermining the salary and working conditions of employees, employers should join with us and responsible funders in agreeing basic standards.

“The local liaison group ‘Homeless Link’ has reportedly described the cuts as outrageous and I am sure our members in the sector will agree.

“It has been a priority, for our members, to hold the line against cuts in services and it is tragic that Derby has set a record of extreme cuts at this point.”

Supporting People funding provides services for vulnerable people, including victims of the current economic crisis, plus supported housing for those with alcohol and drug dependency, ex-offenders and other vulnerable adults, ensuring a “safe” environment for both the individual and the public.

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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