William Eichler 13 February 2024

Suffolk council leaders warn of ‘catastrophic’ HRS proposals

Suffolk council leaders warn of ‘catastrophic’ HRS proposals  image
Image: SN Thomas Photography / Shutterstock.com.

The leaders of Suffolk’s district and borough councils have warned of ‘a catastrophic effect’ on vulnerable residents should Suffolk County Council agree proposed changes to Housing Related Support (HRS).

Cllr John Ward (Babergh), Cllr Caroline Topping (East Suffolk), Cllr Neil MacDonald (Ipswich), Cllr Andrew Mellen (Mid Suffolk) and Cllr Cliff Waterman (West Suffolk) have written to the county council, expressing their concern with the HRS proposals in the 2024/25 budget.

HRS is a temporary housing scheme which assists people in the care of Suffolk’s Social and Children’s Services. Suffolk CC intends to remove all funding, and decommission the scheme by March 2025.

The council leaders said: ‘We recognise that times are tough and that difficult decisions need to be made. But we believe that a decision to end Housing Related Support is short-sighted and will haunt Suffolk County Council in years to come as the implications come to fruition.’

Suffolk CC leader Matthew Hicks and Cllr. Beccy Hopfensperger, the cabinet member for Adult Care, said the district and borough councils have been aware of the possible changes to HRS since last autumn and any suggestion to the contrary is ‘disingenuous’.

'They also said that in the ‘spirit of collaboration’ the local authorities should each contribute £600,000 to the county council to fund HRS until the end of 2026.

‘I understand that for some of you this would represent a considerable saving when compared to the actual cost of the provision you are using. Your contribution would also give officers the time you feel they need to plan how you are going to provide these services going forward.’

They continued: ‘In any event, I am more than happy to ask officers here at the county council to arrange further meetings with district and borough colleagues, because as you know, these meetings regarding HRS have already been happening.

‘What will not happen, however, is Suffolk County Council continuing to pay for non-statutory services it can no longer afford to fund.’

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