Homeless centre dragged into Exeter unitary dispute

A project which provides much needed services to vulnerable young people has become the first victim of the county council’s non-cooperation with the city council.

Devon County Council have made a unilateral decision to withdraw funding from one of two youth homelessness posts at the Yes centre in George Street.

The post focuses on helping young people avoid becoming homeless. The knock on effect of this decision will be to reduce the service provided to young people with mental health and housing problems as this worker will have to cover the general role as well.

Not only has the city council not beeen consulted on the withdrawal of funding but now finds that no-one at county hall feels able to discuss the issue.

Councillor Laura Newton said: “This is shocking and really disapointing. It hits at the most vulnerable in our society.

“Preventing youth homelessness is vitally important and we need to work across the county on such issues no matter what local government structure is in place.

“Before last week I wouldn’t have believed the county council could stoop so low as to not be willing to communicate with city council staff and just go ahead and cut such a vital role but after lying about rises in council tax last week I shudder to think what’s next.”

Funding for the posts was won by the district councils but the money was paid to the county to be allocated across Devon.

There was agreement between the district housing authorities and the county council on how best the money should be spent to prevent youth homelessness. In Exeter the two posts were created and the city council helped with the funding.

Head of Housing, Steve Warran, said: “There is a real challenge with youth homelessness. We have been making good progress in supporting young people and have reduced youth homelessness by over 90% in the last four years.

“This is a real backward step. And its outrageous that we can’t even get on and re focus the post we have left because no-one at county will work with us.”