CUTS to the homeless budget in Glasgow will not lead to any increase in rough sleeping, the council has vowed.

Plans to take £2.6m from third sector organisations who provide supported accommodation for homeless people have sparked anger and fears that vulnerable people will be put at risk.

But Mhairi Hunter, convenor of Health and Social Care at Glasgow City Council, said the cuts are part of a long term programme to transform service in the city and invest more cash in services to get people into permanent housing.

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According to a council paper, which was approved last week, the Health and Social Care Partnership, between the council and health board, will see 99 supported accommodation beds axed in October this year.

Ms Hunter however, said the beds are in the type of provision that is no longer suitable and is a fraction of overall homeless provision in the city.

She admitted services in Glasgow could be better and that was the aim, not saving money.

She said: “We are struggling to turn our services around so I will not say everything is fine. This is part of that work and I absolutely guarantee it is not going to lead to anybody sleeping on the streets.

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“It’s going to lead to people in the main being in settled housing but we do still have a huge amount of work to do to re-orient the system to rapid rehousing.”

Some of the third sector groups will see funding cut by hundreds of thousands of pounds and some of their facilities shut down.

They include the Simon Community, Aspire, Talbot Association and YPeople.

Ms Hunter however, said people are focusing on the negative perceptions.

She said: “It is part of the transition towards rapid re-housing and Housing First.

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“People are focusing on the fact we’ve made this £2.6m cut but they’re not taking into account we are also investing £7m in a mix of capital and revenue spending to re- provision supported accommodation for those who need it, but also to support Housing First.

“Also, money is coming in from Social Bite for Housing First. And we’re expecting to get money from the Scottish Government.

“If people go back and look at our rapid re-housing transition plan, we set targets over the space of five years to establish 600 Housing First tenancies and to reduce hostel provision by 500 units.”

She said the cuts to current provision needs to be done at the same time as increasing Housing First as people move from one to the other.

She said currently, people are stuck in unsuitable accommodation.

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Ms Hunter added: “It sounds counter intuitive but you need to cut the outdated forms of emergency accommodation, you need to cut at the same time as increasing Housing First tenancies.

This cut is a catalyst for change to keep tilting the system towards that rapid rehousing approach. It is really difficult. I completely understand it is very difficult for the third sector providers.”

Thousands of people make homeless applications to the council each year but Ms Hunter said the services that will be cut are a fraction of Glasgow’s overall provision and people affected represent a narrow range of those who are homeless.

She added: “This is a fraction of the interim form of accommodation. It’s a reduction of 7% and we have many more temporary furnished flats.

“It’s an extremely targeted reduction in a particular type of accommodations and support.

“We’ve got over 900 beds.

“You always need to have a process where you accommodate people before they go into a tenancy, we want it to be as short as possible. Rather than now when frankly, people can get stuck in that system for years.”

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She said no-one will be left behind. Everyone living in the affected accommodation will be assessed and either offered a Housing First tenancy, a mainstream tenancy or if that is not appropriate another supported accommodation place that meets their needs.

While some campaigners and groups who deal with homeless people fear that there will be fewer places to accommodate people who end up on the street, Ms Hunter said it is not about emergency provision which will always exist, she said.

She added: “Housing First is about a very specific group of people. They have never been offered a house because they have not been deemed tenancy ready.

“The level of reduction we are making is to get people out of that type of accommodation and into tenancies because we don’t think that they need to be there.

“It’s not going to end up in a situation where we have no specialist accommodation. There will always be a need to have that.”

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The council has previous experience of moving people out of unsuitable accommodation, she said with the closure of the Clyde Place hostel and moving people to a new facility at Rodney Street near Possilpark then on to Housing First.

Ms Hunter said: “It is fundamentally about improving the lives of people in that type of accommodation.

“For the folk moved out of Clyde Place it has been life changing for them. They have been in and out of this type of accommodation for years.

“People who thought they would never have the keys to their own house now have those keys.”

Ms Hunter said it was part of a five year plan to reduce homelessness in Glasgow.

Work with third sector providers will continue in a new homelessness alliance, which she said will see the providers have a greater say in how services are delivered.

She said: “It’s going to lead to people in the main being in settled housing but we do still have a huge amount of work to do to re-orient the system to rapid rehousing.”

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Ms Hunter admitted the £2.6m cut was “sore” for the organisations, However she said there was still a crucial role for the third sector in future homeless services.

She added: “Work will continue to be available, just not the same kind of work.

“We want to work in partnership with the third sector on this. There is absolutely a role for them.”