HOMELESSNESS support service funding and financial help for housing authorities could be axed in efforts by the county council to save £2m.

The proposals have been slammed by one councillor as morally wrong.

In efforts to plug the anticipated financial shortfall of £132m by 2025/26, Hampshire County Council approved its savings proposal at full council (November 9) to generate a total of £90.4m, of which £75m is expected to be delivered by 2025/26, leaving an unmet budget gap of £57m in 2025/26.

The council said £2m could be saved by axing all funding for non-statutory homelessness support services, those it doesn’t have to provide, and non-statutory financial support that helps “relevant” housing authorities support vulnerable people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to maintain independent accommodation.

During the meeting, Cllr Kim Taylor said: “There is one group of residents we serve that cannot take mitigation of any kind. Being homeless is not a lifestyle choice, despite what the [former] home secretary might think.

“Of nearly 40,000 people assessed in the southeast of England this year as needing homelessness support, the largest group of those people were people with children. People become homeless for all sorts of reasons, deaths in families, relationships breaking up, domestic violence; it really is not a lifestyle choice.

“This recommendation is not just morally wanting; it may also be entirely counterproductive and end up costing us more. We have a statutory duty to assess and address people’s eligibility for care and support needs, of which the homeless have many. Currently, in a great number of cases, that assessment and support are often part of the package by others, reducing that cost to us.

“If hostels close or services fail as a result of the withdrawal of this funding, then we run the risk of an unqualified number of assessments and complex needs requirements, which we will have to provide.”

With the approval of the savings programme, the Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee (HASCS) (November 21) agreed on creating a working group that will oversee and scrutinise the approach and outcomes of the stage two consultation about the proposals.

The savings also included the “reshaping” of the adult social care grants programme for voluntary, community, and social enterprise organisations that represented a target saving of £620,000 and changes to how contributions towards non-residential social care costs are calculated, targeting £500,000.

All 13 “stage two consultations”, which will include proposals to reduce planned road maintenance and axing all non-statutory public transport, will be presented to the public as one big consultation in which residents can submit their views on all proposals or only those that affect them the most.