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Mayors plan uses discredited ‘payment by results’ funding for rough sleepers in London

London Mayor, Boris Johnson has announced that services for the capitals' rough sleepers will be funded on a 'payment by results' basis showing that the Tories and the ConDem government have learnt nothing from the ongoing scandal at the workfare provider A4e.


London Mayor, Boris Johnson has announced that services for the capitals' rough sleepers will be funded on a 'payment by results' basis showing that the Tories and the ConDem government have learnt nothing from the ongoing scandal at the workfare provider A4e. 
Housing workers believe this method of funding will destabilise provision at a time when numbers of rough sleepers are rising.  Providers will be incentivised to become risk averse, avoiding working with the most hard to reach groups, or will be tempted to twist the rules in order to secure funding in the way that A4e appears to have routinely operated.

David Cameron's 'families Tsar' and boss of the workfare contractor A4e, Emma Harrison, paid herself a scandalous £8.6 million dividend last year while running schemes in which the unemployed were forced to work without payment.  The firm stands accused of dishonesty in falsely claiming to meet targets in order to maximise its income from public money. This illustrates the dangers inherent in this form of funding.  Yet earlier this week it was announced that the government would be awarding contracts worth over £30 million to A4e despite ongoing fraud probes.  Margaret Hodge, chair of the House of Commons public accounts committee, said it was 'astounding' that A4e was being handed major contracts when its conduct was being investigated by both the police and government officials. 

Front line workers with street homeless have expressed alarm at the proposals.  One commented

"... let me be clear, me and my team are regularly threatened, abused and assaulted by disturbed and desperate clients. How do you think they will respond when they believe we are on commission?"

Many of the street homeless are particularly 'hard to reach' with long term cycles of moving between hostels and the street making it hard to get immediate successes.  For these clients, and others, a patient and thoughtful approach is essential and it’s absurd to reduce success to crude cash linked targets. 
One of the current problems faced by homelessness agencies is the difficulty of long term planning in an environment of unstable funding, these proposals will further destabilise homelessness agencies and distract them from the vital task of meeting the needs of rough sleepers.

The growth in rough sleeping reflects deep social problems flowing from the economic crisis, the decline in house building, and the growth of inequality.  Since the financial crash London's bankers have been bailed out while the mass of the population has been made to pay.  Politicians should be addressing these problems rather than applying a grotesque ideological gimmick to one of the most extreme expressions of the crisis.


Background notes:

The £5 million 'social impact bond' was launched by Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps on 7th March 2012 and will be administered by the Greater London Authority.

Rough sleeping is up by 23 per cent in England
Evictions in the private rented sector were up by 17% over the past three years

Over 110,000 asked their council for homeless support

The number of private tenancies ending in homelessness rose by 39 per cent

Nearly 3,200 households were forced to spend Christmas in bed and breakfast accommodation.

The Unite housing workers branch (LE 1111) organises over 1500 housing workers in housing associations, homelessness and other housing agencies.
Housing workers branch statement on payment by results for rough sleepers work:

Housing workers organised in Unite the union housing branch call Boris Johnson and GLA candidates to repudiate the plan to provide services for rough sleepers in the capital on the discredited 'payment by results' basis. They warn that distorting services for some of London's most vulnerable people to fit a discredited ideological straight jacket will raise new barriers between homeless people and the services they so urgently need and will ultimately rebound on politicians and agencies that go down this road.

Visit our website at: http://www.housingworkers.org.uk/index.asp

 

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