Brighton Greens urge council to fund homelessness

Ahead of the council’s final budget decision in two weeks’ time, Brighton and Hove’s Green councillors have called on the council to use unused funds from the city’s ‘Winter Maintenance Reserve’ to provide support for the city’s homeless. 

Brighton pier
Brighton pier

Image: Aleem Yousaf / Flickr / cc by-sa 2.0

Imogen Benson

Green councillors have called on Brighton and Hove City Council to use unused funds to provide support for the homeless. 

At the council’s Policy and Resources Committee yesterday (13 February), the Green group proposed a series of amendments to the Labour budget, asking that funds from the city’s underused ‘Winter Maintenance Reserve’ be reallocated to establish 12 additional places on the Housing First scheme – a programme that provides support to homeless people failed by traditional approaches.

The Housing First scheme, which was first introduced under the council’s Green administration, prioritises access to stable, individual accommodation alongside personalised support, allowing for any additional issues to be resolved under the stability of permanent housing. 

Yesterday’s Green amendments also include funding towards more staff in the council’s legal team, to support the joint Green and Labour programme to build 800 additional council homes by 2023.

These proposals come ahead of the council’s final budget decision for 2020/2021, which will be made in two weeks’ time.

Councillor David Gibson, the Green Opposition spokesperson on housing, commented: “While people live on the streets in our city, we ask that under-used reserve funds are used to provide more support.

“It is a scandal that as one of the sixth richest nations in the world we have such a high homelessness population. We are committed to doing all we can to end homelessness in our city. Along with Labour we are signed up to a joint plan to end the need for homelessness, to have a chance of achieving this we need to expand successful schemes like housing as fast as possible.”

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, Leader of the Official Opposition, added: “We are proud to present a number of positive proposals to the City’s Budget today, which follow our principle of not cutting services to fund another.

“The city council has failed to use the Winter Reserve and Greens strongly believe that where numbers of homeless people continue to rise, that money would be better spent on Housing First – which works on the basis that the first thing to do is to get homeless people off the streets. We want to use some of this money on a council-led programme of insulations which warm homes, improve health and cut the city’s carbon footprint.”