York Conservatives has slammed the decision by City of York Council to end funding for the Salvation Army’s "outstanding" York rough sleepers programme in a supposed cost-saving measure.
While supportive of the Labour administration's ambition to reduce Council spending to help balance budgets, we believe this is the completely the wrong area cuts should be made and doubt their claim this will actually result in a saving due to the costs of hiring internal staff to deliver a service largely conducted by volunteers.
Commenting on Labour's decision to cut homeless funding, Cllr Martin Rowley said:
"Whilst the Conservative Group broadly supports the Labour Administration in its plans to reduce the budget deficit, we do have several concerns in relation to the decision that has been made to not renew the Salvation Army Early Intervention and Prevention team's contract with CYC. For the last 17 years, this charitable organisation has delivered outstanding services to the City and those who have unfortunately found themselves homeless. Their expertise, local knowledge and community networking will be difficult if not impossible to replace in house. Even with the recruitment of 4 new ‘Navigators’, the Council will be hard pushed to have them trained and in place before the end of the Salvation Army’s contract at the end of October.
We feel that this decision has not been made with proper scrutiny, or the opportunity for opposition members to challenge it, or the Exec Members who made it.
We are concerned that the funding from Government, which is temporary, is being used to create a level of service in house that will not be sustainable in the long term.
The claim that the services offered by the Salvation Army EIP team can be more economically provided in house does not carry any credibility. 4 new Council Employees along with their additional costs of employment will average out at about £120,000 per annum. Even if the Salvation Army EIP contract was kept at its current level, that would only cost the Council £95,000 per annum.
We strongly urge the Executive to rethink this decision, take a wider look at requirements and resources, and allow for proper scrutiny and challenge."