Our Chief Executive David Chaffey responds to the Spring Budget

As an organisation tackling homelessness, BHT Sussex is heavily affected by the social, political and economic environment in which it operates, and the Spring Budget announced this week has implications for our clients, tenants and staff. We were disappointed that no significant investment to eradicate homelessness was announced at a time when homelessness levels are rising dramatically – the government’s latest figures show a 27% increase in rough sleeping levels in England in a year. We would also have welcomed steps to address the funding crisis in local government, which greatly impacts our services.

At present the public finances are being managed in a way that makes delivering public services, through contracts commissioned via Local Authorities and the National Health Service, very difficult. We deliver services in this way throughout Sussex and every single Local Authority we work with is having to make difficult choices to balance the books. Many local councils are even facing bankruptcy.

One of the major drivers of this is a lack of affordable housing and the rise in homelessness as a consequence, with record numbers of people homeless in temporary accommodation. Local Authorities are paying out huge sums to place people without homes in expensive temporary accommodation, while demand for social housing continues to far outstrip supply.

Recent research by the National Housing Federation and Shelter has demonstrated that investment in social housing upfront would pay for itself in only six years. It would therefore seem wise for a programme of investment to be instigated with all the attendant employment and health benefits that secure homes bring. At present this approach is lacking and it will be interesting to see what the next election brings in terms of a focus on housing.

Overall it feels like we are still lacking a vision for the future of the UK that would benefit people right across society, as we look enviously across the pond to the USA where they are taking forward tackling climate change by investing heavily in green technologies, with all the benefits that will bring. A similar approach over here coupled with a vision for housing and employment would reap huge benefits for us all.

The Government’s stated aim of ending rough sleeping by 2024 is not going to be achieved with the current approach to policy and the economy. In the meantime, we at BHT Sussex will continue to do all we can to work with our clients and tenants to ensure their recovery, safety and security in an increasingly challenging environment.

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