Homelessness cuts put on hold by Newcastle City Council

One of our writers discusses Newcastle City Council's plans on reducing spending on homelessness being paused.

Sarah Myles
18th March 2024
Wikimedia Commons - Geoff Wong
Newcastle City council’s plans to halve the spending on beds in support of the homeless has been paused.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has said that the cuts were removed from the final budget proposals which were published ahead of Newcastle City Council’s next cabinet meeting. This proposal wanted to “invest in a longer-term vision" in order to help the causes of homelessness and reduce a “reliance on temporary accommodation” by working with providers. 

Local authority chiefs have insisted that as they grapple with how to cut spending by another £60 million over the coming three years, the limited resources need to be focussed on the root causes of rough sleeping, instead of using “what little funding we have to tackle the symptom of a broader issue."

Paul Frew, the Labour councillor, and council’s cabinet member for finance, added that the provision would still be reviewed.

From October, the Labour-led authority had suggested reducing the spending on homelessness prevention from £3.3 million to £1.6 million, sparking outcry from housing providers and charities who warned that more people could die on Newcastle’s streets.

Homelessness charity Shelter estimated that 71 homeless people in Newcastle had died between 2017 and 2021.

One of the main providers of temporary accommodation for homeless people, Staff at Changing Lives, encouraged the decision to pause the cuts. 

Neil Baird, the charity’s operations director said, “we have worked very closely with the council over the last 50 years to support those worst off in our society and we look forward to continuing to do so in 2024 and beyond.”

Herbie Cooper, from Crisis, added that homeless people in Newcastle would be “breathing a sigh of relief that these devastating proposals have been paused.”

Tracy Guy shared that Shelter’s North East hub was pleased the council had "listened to the concerns raised.”

The council said that it would “carry out a review of the provision to seek best value for the council” but has not committed to making a specific financial saving.

Mr Frew also said there had been "some fantastic partnership work" in recent years to tackle homelessness but that “we were aware that much of the money being spent in this area was being spent to tackle the symptom of a wider problem, rather than the root cause.” He added that "we still want to review our homelessness provision in the city and believe the transfer of Your Homes Newcastle presents a real opportunity for the authority. 

Frew finally stated that “the move will ensure the authority has control of its housing stock and can integrate housing provision alongside other frontline service."

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