Westminster Conservatives have slashed the Council budget for rough sleeping and supported housing just weeks after the Council’s own figures showed the number of those out on the streets had more than doubled. At last week’s full Council Westminster Conservatives passed the annual budget including cuts of over £800,000 to the rough sleeping budget. The cuts were opposed by Labour Councillors who were sceptical of Conservative claims the cuts could be delivered through ‘efficiencies’ without effecting front line services. 30 bed spaces have already been lost in 2015 with the closure of the Bayswater hostel.
Labour Housing spokesperson Councillor Tim Roca said:
“It’s scarcely believable at a time when rough sleeping is the worst it’s been for decades, that Westminster Tories would choose now to slash funding. Saying that the cuts can be delivered without effecting front line services misses the point that more money not less is needed, in tackling a problem which is now Dickensian in its proportions. How Conservative Councillors can support such cuts, whilst refusing to roll back on free dinners for Councillors or making savings in the Lord Mayor’s Office shows a heartlessness that can barely be conceived.”
Westminster counts data (the number of individuals counted on one night within a month) shows that rough sleeping has increased by 136% (when March 2012 counts are compared to November 2015 counts – the latest data used by Westminster in framing its Rough Sleeper strategy). The Greater London rough sleeping numbers have increased by 33% when the 2011/2012 figures are compared to 2014/2015.