Whitehall clash hits homeless

THE POLICIES of one government department will lead to hostels for the homeless being closed at the same time as another is trying to clear beggars from the streets and into hostels.

Unless the confusion in Whitehall between the competing demands of the Department of Social Security (DSS) and the Department of the Environment (DoE) is resolved, charities fear about 1,500 destitute people a year will lose their places of shelter.

Last week, homelessness organisations were in near panic as they realised the consequences of the Government's plans to transfer responsibility for community care from the Departments of Health and Social Security.

Local councils say they may well not be able to maintain funding after the switch takes place on 1 April - the same time that Sir George Young, the housing minister, will launch a 'rough sleepers' initiative' aimed at moving people off the streets.

All the major organisers of registered hostels for the homeless, which provide specialist care in London, said they faced a 75 per cent drop in the money they received per resident and would have to start closing buildings if there was no change in policy.

At present the DSS automatically pays between pounds 200 and pounds 210 per week for anyone in a registered hostel. The money covers accommodation (about pounds 50 a week) and supplying food and care ( pounds 150 a week).

From 1 April, the DSS will continue to pay the rent, but it will be left to councils' discretion to assess each new inmate and decide whether to meet all, part, or none of the pounds 150 food and care costs.

Last week, in inner London, the borough of Kensington and Chelsea told the St George Community Trust, which runs three homes, that it will 'face particular difficulties' when the system changes. Alone In London - which tries to get homeless teenagers off the streets around King's Cross - met Islington Council on Friday and got no guarantees of future funding for beds for drug users and the mentally ill. Westminster City Council told the St Mungo Association, which helps mentally ill men forced on to the streets by the asylum closure programme, that it will fund beds only for men with a three-year link with the borough, which few of its itinerants have.

The looming crisis is caused by a gap in funding. The Labour-controlled Association of Metropolitan Authorities estimates that the amount transferred to councils for community care is pounds 250m short.

Bryan Symons, director of the St Martin of Tours Housing Association, who is co-ordinating the campaign to make the Government think again, said that with local authorities concentrating on providing care for the elderly and mentally ill it was impossible to see how cities with exceptional homelessness problems, like London and Manchester, could help fund hostels.

'The homeless are being put at the bottom of councils' priorities,' he said.

There are 550 beds in general registered hostels for the homeless in London and about 200 in the rest of the country. Turnover is rapid; conservative estimates put the number of homeless housed and treated at between 1,500 and 2,000 a year.

Homelessness charities could try to avoid closure by replacing intensive care with a cheap service which merely provided a housing benefit-funded bed for the night.

But Mick Carroll, spokesman for the St Mungo Association, said: 'We need to get people to doctors, get wounds treated and make sure they eat. We don't want to . . . just leave them to rot in their beds.

'Why can't the Government bugger off and leave us alone?'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker