Osborne dishes out cuts to four departments. By Lamiat Sabin
THE “lifeline” homelessness prevention grant (HPG) is now at risk following Tory Chancellor George Osborne’s swingeing cuts agreed with government departments announced yesterday.
A spokesman from charity Crisis told the Star that the organisation fears the “very valuable” lifeline would be one of the first so-called “low value” initiatives to be lost under the cuts to Communities and Local Government funding.
“We don’t know anything more concrete than that until the spending review, but we want to make sure it isn’t touched and we want to make sure it’s protected,” he continued.
The Tory Chancellor announced that four departments had agreed to cuts in funding of about 30 per cent over the next four years ahead of his spending review later this month.
The Treasury and the departments of Transport, Environment, Communities & Local Government were the first to settle on his drastic demands for savings, at 8 per cent annual cuts until 2020.
He claimed that the slashes in spending would reduce the deficit, with the agreements producing “efficiency savings” from the closure of “low value programmes.”
The HPG — costing an annual £78 million — has been protected for the last five years.
Crisis says it is vital in assisting homeless people that local authorities can otherwise refuse to accept as being in “priority need.”
Mr Osborne has told most government departments they should be willing to lose between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of funds by the end of the current parliament.
Transport union RMT said that the government would renationalise services if it were truly concerned about weeding out inefficiency.
General secretary Mick Cash said: “With soaring passenger demand, it is ludicrous to be hammering down on transport budgets while services are already struggling to cope and are running right on the knife edge of public safety.
“If this rotten government was serious about efficiency it would kick out the profiteering private operators and bring our transport services back under public ownership and control.”
A third of further education colleges could also close as a result of the government’s “devastating blow” to adult education, the University and College Union (UCU) said.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “Funding for adult skills has already fallen 35 per cent since 2009, and the latest reductions could be the final nail in the coffin for some courses.”
In his speech, Mr Osborne claimed that all these departmental cuts are to “protect working people.”