Are homeless cuts a sign the system is broken and needs to be fixed?
PUBLISHED: 06:17 25 February 2017
Take a walk around Norwich city centre at the moment and it’s impossible not to have noticed a change that has occurred in the past 12 months.
I see it in the doorway of the old BHS, on the steps of Debenhams and down various alleyways and avenues .
I am referring to the increasing numbers of people sleeping rough on the streets of our city.
In my decade and a half back in Norwich I’ve often spotted the occasional rough sleeper, but nowhere near to the scale we are seeing now.
The reasons for this are numerous and have been oft covered in the column inches of our newspapers and websites.
What I want to discuss today are my concerns that at a time when we are seeing an apparent rise in this problem, we have also had to report on major cut-backs to a fund aimed at helping those affected.
For those who missed it, Norfolk County Council has chosen to axe £5m over three years from its Building Resilient Lives budget.
Organisations such as Norfolk YMCA, The Benjamin Foundation and Equal Lives say the cuts will reduce their ability to deliver housing support services and therefore lead to an increase in homelessness.
This column isn’t about criticising councillors at County Hall for what must have been a very difficult decision to make.
In their defence they argue the responsibility for the issue should fall on district councils, even they also face financial difficulties.
What it has got me thinking is that whether such decisions add further weight to arguments that it’s time we took a long hard look at how local public services are run and delivered.
If society can no longer even afford to provide such help to those most in need, then is that an indication that the current model of local government is broken and needs to be fixed?
When a Norwich City Council leader is talking about being ‘cut to the bone’ as also happened this week, that adds further weight to the argument for change.
This is especially so when you consider the public are paying more for their services, but the services they receive are being trimmed.
I’ve often raised my eyebrows at the various shake-ups within the public sector, especially within health, but it does seem that we are starting to reach a tipping point.