CONCERN over cuts in a homeless charity’s funding at a time when housing problems are mounting in Wales has been voiced by a North Wales Assembly Member.
Plaid Cymru’s Llyr Huws Gruffydd made his comments during a visit to Shelter Cymru’s headquarters in Wrexham, which deals with a wide range of housing and homeless issues.
In 1987 Wrexham became one of the first local authorities to provide funding for the charity’s housing advice service but last year the authority withdrew its £45,000-a-year funding and used the money to finance its own in-house service.
Mr Huws Gruffyd said: “Shelter Cymru offers a distinctive and well-established service for thousands of people facing repossession, homelessness and rent or mortgage payment problems.
“This is particularly acute now that job losses are mounting and there’s growing uncertainty in the public sector due to the UK government’s cuts.
“It’s therefore a huge concern that funding for the charity is being cut by cash-strapped councils and other bodies just as pressure mounts.”
He added: “It was a very useful visit to see the range of work that Shelter Cymru undertakes, including the Prisonlink service that helps homeless ex-prisoners from Wales to find a home.
“It’s also campaigning to bring empty homes back into use – something we need to be encouraging as an alternative to plans by many local councils to build thousands of extra new homes on green field sites across the north.
“It’s very sobering that, just as demand for these services is soaring, the axe is hanging over many funding streams for the charity.”
Janet Loudon, the charity’s operations manager, said it was the only housing service in North Wales able to provide impartial advice and specialist legal support for people facing repossessions in court.
She said: “Many of the cases we deal with are people with rent arrears.
“If they are council tenants it’s important they don’t have to rely solely on council advice services for information.
“A lot of this advice can’t be done on the phone. You need to see a specialist adviser face to face because many people have complex housing debts.”
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