A coalition of West Sussex charities and organisations has formed to oppose proposed cuts to funding for housing-related support services.
The Tory-led West Sussex County Council is considering terminating contracts to a number of different organisations from April 2019 as it looks to plug a massive budget gap.
It is also proposing a 75 per cent cut Local Assistance Network funding, which provides a safety net for financially vulnerable people across West Sussex.
Following the announcement the West Sussex housing-related support and homelessness sector has formed a coalition of existing providers to lobby and campaign for funding to be protected.
Stonepillow chief executive officer Hilary Bartle, who is chair of the coalition of providers group, said: “On behalf of the coalition I wish to say how encouraged we have been by the support from across the wider public and all political spectrums, in voicing concerns and lobbying against the county council’s proposals to cut all funding for these essential services.
“We are reassured by the county council’s latest announcements to now hold a full consultation and we are resolved to fully engage and work with the council during this process to protect housing related support services across the county of West Sussex.”
A demonstration is being planned outside Chichester’s County Hall before proposals are due to be scrutinised by the Health and Adult Social Care Committee on Thursday September 27.
Meanwhile a petition calling for the cuts to be rejected in relation to Crawley Open House has been signed by nearly 9,000 people.
A similar petition opposing cuts to the YMCA Downslink Group, which currently provides specialist housing and support services to 206 young people across West Sussex, has received more than 1,400 signatures.
The coalition of providers says it is aware there is still a lot of work to do and a long way to go in terms of protecting a baseline for funding these essential services, but it is pleased the county council is proposing a consultation and engagement period and it wants to cooperate fully with this process.
The group has asked for a number of key areas to be clarified:
1. That existing contracts be extended in line with the new consultation period,
2. That the coalition of providers has representation on the group overseeing the consultation process,
3. That the coalition is able to actively participate on all the relevant sectoral and area based task and finish groups as many of its clients do not sit neatly into one box.
Alongside Stonepillow other members of the coalition are: Southdown Housing, Bognor Housing Trust, Change Grow Live, Crawley Open House, Peabody, Safe in Sussex, Citizens Advice, Worthing Churches Homeless Projects, Worthing Homes, YMCA Downslink Group, Horsham Matters, Saxon Weald and Guild Care.