Homeless Connect has made a submission to the Department for Communities consultation on changes to the Discretionary Support Scheme. This scheme provides vital financial support for people who find themselves in an extreme, exceptional or crisis situation. The support either comes in a non-repayable grant or in the form of a loan.
In 2022/3, the Department for Communities budget for the Discretionary Support Scheme stood at £40.3 million. However, in 2023/4 the Department has reduced the budget being granted by over 50% to stand at £20 million. The Department has outlined that following assessment of the budget allocation for the Department for 2023/4 set by the Secretary of State, they believe they have no alternative option but to reduce the amount of money available for the scheme.
Following a consultation on an Equality Impact Assessment for the budget allocation, they have launched a consultation on an Equality Impact Assessment specifically focused on this cut.
The submission outlines our opposition to the proposed cut to the budget available for the Discretionary Support Scheme. While we understand why the Department feels that it has no alternative but to implement this cut, we cannot support such a decision. As our submission outlines: “In the midst of a cost of living crisis with inflation remaining high, we simply cannot support a move which seeks to cut vital support to some of the most vulnerable households living here. This is balancing the budget on the shoulders of those who can least afford it.”
The consultation response particularly notes the fact that this cut “runs against the approach adopted in the Homelessness Strategy for 2022-2027 of seeking to prioritise homelessness prevention… The Discretionary Support Scheme is a lifeline for some households who are on the brink of potentially losing their home. It can be the right support at the right time which can make a real difference in sustaining a tenancy. Reducing funding for discretionary support and tightening the criteria for access may take away vital support which could be crucial in preventing a household falling into homelessness.”
You can read our full submission here.