Fight for Ludlow Foyer
Shropshire Housing Group's Foyer in the old Marstons Mill, Ludlow, provides 15 bedspaces in single rooms, some communal facilities and a programme of support and training for vulnerable young people aged 16-25. Five full time members of staff and an external concierge service provide 24 hour cover which is required under a contract with Shropshire Council. Following County financial cuts in 2014/15 similar closed and the Ludlow Foyer is now the only facility for under 18s in the south of the County.
The two principal sources of finance are Housing Benefit and a County grant from the Supporting People budget both of which are under threat.
From April 2017 will remove the automatic right to Housing Benefit of NEETS aged 18-21. This would mean the rent element of housing benefit being covered for most Foyer tenants in this age group would no longer be in place.
With effect from April 2018 a new Local Housing Allowance Cap is due to be introduced which caps rents and service charges in relation to the local housing rental market. Although this cap matches the level of Foyer rents, it will no longer cover the £146 p.w. service charge which covers the concierge, CCTV and other services to provide acceptable accommodation for vulnerable 16 to 17 year-olds. This is a loss of Housing Benefit support of £114k per annum.
A research study for DWP and DCLG on the amount of housing benefit paid to supported housing was due to report to Parliament before the Summer recess but in a debate on 20th July it was deferred until the Autumn. The key question is whether the exemption from the Local Housing Allowance Cap for supported housing will continue. If not the Foyer may close.
Supporting People Grant
The Supporting People grant from the County is currently £102 k p.a. ending in March 2017 but possibly due for renewal through a delayed tendering process. This grant covers a statutory requirement for preventive services for under 18's and intensive support for vulnerable 18-25 year olds . Funding is from the Adult Services budget and the portfolio holder is Lee Chapman, lead officer Andy Begley. In the latest Cabinet paper (13th July) overall cuts of £4,024k are proposed. Final decisions are expected in late September. If the £102k Supporting People grant is not renewed the Foyer will no longer take under 18's and services will be cut.
This petition will be sent to Shropshire Council to request that they continue to finance services for young people provided by Ludlow Foyer at the current level during 2017/18 and subsequent financial years. A paper copy of this petition, along with more information is available at the people4ludlow website