County Hall’s axe gives DENS that Friday feeling

DENS: Bedroom
DENS: Bedroom

The leaders of a homelessness charity were told they could face a cut of £50,000 a year – just before they were due to go home on Friday afternoon.

The team at homelessness charity DENS, which now gets £240,000 a year from Herts County Council, have been given 28 days to respond to the proposal.

The 27 per cent cut would come out of the £186,000-a-year the charity gets from the council to manage Dacorum’s main night shelter, which has cared for 300,000 people in the past 10 years.

DENS chief executive Andrew Liversidge said: “If they stick to their guns and knock £50,000 off our funding, we will have to employ two fewer staff to help people reclaim their lives.”

A four-year £100,000-a-year grant to DENS from the National Lottery will end after next March as well.

Mr Liversidge told the Gazette yesterday: “If you remove support for the poor and marginalised people at the bottom of society, ultimately it will be counterproductive and I think that’s a selfish thing to do.

“If you take away the money for people to stay healthy, it will mean more people ending up in hospital.

“If you take away the money for people to live a normal lifestyle and they start to live a more chaotic lifestyle, it could mean the police get called out and there will be more trouble on the streets.”

County Hall needs to reduce its spending by £200m a year by 2014, and has already identified efficiency savings of £159m towards that figure.

Spokesman Gemma McKelvey said: “Difficult decisions have to be made in order to maintain services.

“We are setting a cap on the amount paid to providers of housing-related support at what we believe is a reasonable maximum rate.”

She said some providers are already give good services below the maximum level, and changes will ensure everyone across the county has the same level of support.