Cuts to funding services to the most vulnerable proposed by West Sussex County Council.

£5.1 million that is spent on contracts in West Sussex, which will be lost in the proposed cuts, saves £38.3 million in avoided costs across West Sussex in a single year (Every West Sussex £1 spent saves £7.50 avoided costs elsewhere). See full Analysis Report of Impact of Proposed Funding Cut here.

Key messages from the West Sussex Coalition of Providers:

  1. £5.1 million that is spent on contracts in West Sussex, which will be lost in the proposed cuts, saves £38.3 million in avoided costs across West Sussex in a single year
  2. Contracts need to be protected and extended by at least 12 months, to prevent lives and jobs being lost.
  3. We need to build a strong cross agency partnership which can undertake and fund the remodelling of services in the long term.
  4. We will continue to meet the needs of the most vulnerable and protect communities in West Sussex
  5. Avoid a cliff edge in a years’ time which once again puts the lives of the most vulnerable at risk.
  6. The key questions which West Sussex County Council (WSCC) and its partners need to address is: Not whether West Sussex can afford to fund these services but, conversely, whether West Sussex can afford to be without them.

To show you just how much impact these cuts would have on the most vulnerable people across the county, please watch the video below produced by the West Sussex Coalition of Providers. Please note, the video was made before the Council announced its revised recommendation to cut 64% of funding to services in 2020  as opposed to 100%.

This was shown at the Health and Adult Social Care (HASC) Select Committee on the 12th December 2018 along with our witness statement.

 

Background:

In August 2018 West Sussex County Council proposed a 100% cut in funding for all housing related support service contracts and 75% cuts to the Local Assistance Network (LAN). These contracts were held by 18 providers across West Sussex and equate to a budget spend of £6.3 million.

These services provide an essential safety net for the most vulnerable people within the communities of West Sussex. Housing Related Supports prevents and provides relief to those who are:

  • at risk of becoming homeless
  • homeless
  • rough sleeping

It empowers and enables those who are:

  • suffering from mental ill health
  • who have substance misuse issues
  • offenders
  • escaping from domestic abuse
  • young people
  • elderly

Housing Related Support gets people back on track and enables them to address the barriers and issues in their lives, which are either the cause or symptom of their vulnerability and severe housing need. The LAN provides a financial safety net for Families, those at risk of homelessness and everyone in significant poverty across West Sussex communities.

The providers of these services came together in August 2018 to provide a united response to these proposals and formed the West Sussex Coalition of Providers. Hilary Bartle (CEO - Stonepillow) chairs this Coalition and John Holmstrom (CEO - Turning Tides) provides the secretariat role.

The Coalition has been working hard to try and reduce the impact on these vulnerable service users by campaigning for recognition of the services; how they save lives and how they save tax payers money on other high-cost intervention services across the Health, Housing, Criminal Justice and Children’s and Adult Social Care Services. 

West Sussex County Council recognised that the contracts needed extending for 6 months and that a full consultation should take place and a new forward plan was reissued in September 2018. However, the Coalition and the other statutory agencies of Primary and Acute Health Services, Police, Probation, District and Borough Councils do not believe this has gone far enough.  WSCC also proposed that rather than cutting the budget by 100% they would make a cut of 64% - this would leave a budget of £2.3 million to meet WSCC statutory duties. Whilst we recognise the financial pressures on WSCC, this budget will not meet the ever-increasing demand for our services which we are seeing across West Sussex. 

Nationally, homelessness has grown exponentially and within the South East rough sleeping has increased by 261%   since 2010. The number of families in poverty is growing and within the South East there is significant disparity between the rich and the poor. Therefore, the need for the Local Assistance Network has never been so great.

Between April 2017 and April 2018, nearly 8,500 people were recipients of Housing Related Support Services Local Assistant Network services and funds across West Sussex.

Proposals by the WSCC at HASC meeting 12th December 2018 and response from the West Sussex Coalition of Providers:

Following a swell in public concern regarding the proposed cuts to these invaluable services, the feedback from 700 people in the consultation process showed that 97% were critical of the WSCC proposals (see a selection of comments from clients of Southdown services here). The Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee called the proposals for ‘cuts’ to the services to be scrutinised.

The recommendations put forward by WSCC Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care were as follows:

1.    That WSCC allocates a core budget of £4.6 million in 2019/20, reducing it to £2.3 million in 2020/21, for the investment of Housing Related Support. The investment will be used to meet WSCC’s statutory duties and address the risk that reducing prevention will lead to increased demands in other areas.

Response from the West Sussex Coalition of Providers: This is a 64% cut in funding to services in 2020. This means that services will cease, people will end up on the streets, the safety of the public in West Sussex will be at risk and lives will be lost.

2.    All current Housing Related Support Service Contracts to be terminated by 30th September 2019 and new contractual arrangements will be developed to commence on the 1st October 2019.

Response from the West Sussex Coalition of Providers: Based on a review of 80% of services, with contract values of £5.1 million, the Coalition of West Sussex Providers have produced an analysis report setting out Avoided Costs  . This report demonstrates that the £5.1 million that is spent on contracts in West Sussex, which will be lost in the proposed cuts, saves £38.3 million in avoided costs across West Sussex in a single year. This equates to every West Sussex £1 spent it saves £7.50 avoided costs elsewhere. This is tax payer savings! No money means no appropriate services to meet the needs.

3.    WSCC to work closely with strategic partners, providers and stakeholders to remodel the service offer in line with the statutory responsibilities, revised priorities and the financial envelop.

Response from the West Sussex Coalition of Providers: The timescale which has been set (which WSCC accept as challenging) does not provide enough time to undertake the task at hand. In the case of the LAN it only gives 1 month to remodel, recommission and let contracts. This provides a cliff edge for the most financially vulnerable in West Sussex. We support the need to extend contracts for 12 months to allow for WSCC, the Coalition of Providers, the Districts and Borough Councils, Acute and Primary Health Trusts, Police and Probation Services to work together in order to properly remodel services, investigate funding options and appropriately commission a new set of services which are sustainable and continue to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people living in West Sussex.

The recommendations from the HASC select Committee will shortly be available on WSCC website. 

To summarise the feelings of the HASC group, as we see it:

They felt that there should be a 12-month moratorium on existing contracts to give time for all the partners to actively work together to be able to effectively remodel, financially support and commission a new set of services to meet the growing needs of the most vulnerable in West Sussex in 2020. This moratorium would also include the LAN.

The questions now are:

  1. Will Amanda Jupp, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, take the decision at the Cabinet Meeting on the 18th December to recommend the extension for 12 months?
  2. Will she drive forward a partnership to remodel, fund and commission a set of services within the time frame? This is essential to ensure that these invaluable services are not lost and continue to meet growing demand across West Sussex communities.

West Sussex County Council will announce its final recommendation for future funding for housing-related suport on Tuesday, 18th December.  For more information visit our website here - we will keep this page up to date with news on developments.