Shelter are forced to close their homeless service in Borders

Shelter Scotland has expressed deep disappointment at having to close its local homelessness advice service in the Scottish Borders.

The charity’s decision to close down the four-year-old project comes after Scottish Borders Council decided - in the face of public sector spending cuts - not to continue funding the £25,000 a year service for those facing homelessness.

Efforts to secure alternative funding from local housing organisations in the region, including Berwickshire Housing Association, Eildon Housing Association, Scottish Borders Housing Association and Waverley Housing, also failed.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, the housing and homelessness charity, said: “Despite our best efforts to find a solution we are very disappointed at having to close down the Scottish Borders Advice Project.

“We acknowledge that councils face tough decisions regarding budget cuts but it is still sad to have to lose a good value-for-money service that has advised more than 430 people over the last four years, helping prevent many Borders residents from homelessness and repeat homelessness.

“With the cost of just one case of homelessness conservatively estimated at £5,000, we just hope that cutting homelessness advice services doesn’t turn out to be a false economy.

“People in the Scottish Borders who need housing advice can still visit our website at www.shelter.org.uk or call our free helpline on 0808 800 4444.”

Cathie Fancy, Scottish Borders Council’s group manager for housing strategy and services, thanked the charity for the “excellent” service over the past few years.

She said: “Councils are under significant financial pressures to reduce budgets, that’s why we are drawing the contract for this specialist housing advice project to a close and will rely on our trained officers to provide a top quality homeless prevention service.

“The council is presently implementing its dedicated Homeless Prevention Service to offer more comprehensive housing options and support to enable people to resolve their housing need.”