A city cuts millions from its homelessness budget just days after a homeless man’s death

Support us and go ad-free

Birmingham City Council revealed on 8 December it may have to cut £10m from its budget for homelessness services. This announcement comes just nine days after rough sleeper Chiriac Inout died in the city centre on the coldest night of the year so far.

Inout’s body was discovered by two other homeless men on 30 November. The men were sleeping next to him in a car park on a night the temperature dropped to -6°C.

The inquest into his death began on 6 December. But this hasn’t stopped The Sun from speculating about the man’s alleged drug taking.

Birmingham and rough sleeping

Rough sleeping is on the increase in Birmingham. The official count recorded nine people sleeping rough on Birmingham’s streets in autumn 2010. But by 2015, the last available figures, it had quadrupled to 36.

The council’s budget consultation document, which was released on 8 December, states [pdf] that it will have to cut tens of millions of pounds from its supporting people budget by 2021. This includes services for homeless people, victims of domestic abuse, and care leavers.

Council leader John Clancy blamed dwindling government funding and growing demand. He said:

Birmingham City Council is facing an extremely tough financial landscape against a backdrop of continuing severe cuts in Government grant. We have already taken around £590 million out of our budget plans since 2010/11 – this includes having had to address an unprecedented 34 per cent reduction in our Government grant – and we expect to have to find around a further £180 million by 2021…

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

It is inevitable in an age of austerity that unpalatable decisions have to be taken about the services we can continue to pay for, and those areas where the council, reluctantly, must withdraw support.

Continued austerity

The Labour-controlled council grant from central government has fallen by 34% since 2010.

The city has already cut £590m by shedding 40% of its workforce and reducing services since 2010. Now it has to find another £78.4m worth of savings by 2019.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has done nothing to reverse the cuts imposed by his predecessor, George Osborne. And the Local Government Association has warned that councils still face a £5.8bn funding gap by 2020.

Clancy told The Birmingham Mail that the council would continue to try and deliver the affected services. He said:

One of the things we’re doing is to try to reshape the way that particular budget is spent. Just this one particular preventative sector of the budget, we are going to commission in a different kind of way.

Homeless charities, however, warned the proposed cuts would have a devastating impact on Birmingham’s growing homeless population. Jean Templeton, chief executive at city homeless charity St Basils, said:

This level of proposed cuts for the supporting people fund would have a devastating impact on our ability to provide safe, good quality supported accommodation for vulnerable and homeless young people.

A wider problem

Homelessness is also increasing elsewhere. Recorded rough sleeping in England jumped 30% last year, when 3,569 people were recorded on the streets. This is double the level recorded in 2010. Furthermore, there were 114,790 applications for homeless assistance from councils in 2015/16, a 11% rise since 2010/11.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid claimed “one person without a home is one too many” when he announced a £10m scheme to tackle rough sleeping in October.

But this doesn’t begin to make up for the money the government is taking away from councils that provide vital services to some of society’s most vulnerable people.

Get Involved!

– Support charities actively combating homelessness in the UK, such as Crisis, Shelter, and Emmaus.

– Join anti-austerity campiagns, such as The People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

– Support groups seeking to help those suffering from addiction and other mental health issues, such as Lifeline and Action on Addiction.

Featured image via Flickr

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed