The Northern Ireland Assembly election is due to take place on Thursday May 5. In the run-up to the election, political parties putting forward candidates will be publishing their manifestos.
A manifesto is a document which sets out what policies a political party will seek to implement if their candidates are elected. We at Homeless Connect, working with our members, developed a manifesto which sets out ten policies we believe would make a real difference in preventing and reducing homelessness here.
As each party publishes their manifesto, we will be profiling their commitments in the areas our manifesto covers.
On 27 April, the Alliance Party launched their election manifesto. Some sections of note include the following:
Legislative Programme (p11)
“Housing Bill – to compel developers to ensure new homes are sustainable, to strengthen regulation of letting agents, and to reform the management of apartments.
Repeal the Vagrancy Acts – so that no one is criminalised for being homeless or destitute.”
- Commence a review of through-the-gate support for those leaving our custody, working across Executive departments to join up on issues such as healthcare, housing and training, to improve opportunities for rehabilitation.”
Improving Budget Processes (p28)
- Deliver alignment between an outcome-based Programme for Government and a multi-year budget, to enable strategic long-term planning and delivery.”
Mental Health (p47)
“We will take the following steps:
- Trauma Informed Services, based on a replication of the Scottish Model in which mental health priorities are placed at the centre of public services (for example, social security applications, housing applications, educational and careers advice services).”
Social and Affordable Housing (p73)
“Social and affordable housing has always been an essential part of our housing infrastructure; delivery of social housing is a key public service. As well as enabling the building of more homes, we will further improve the provision of social and affordable housing by:
- Ensuring any reforms to social housing provision do not jeopardise fairness, quality or diminish equality of access.
- Continuing to provide revenue funding to support sheltered and supported accommodation.
- Providing housing associations with the flexibility needed to provide community infrastructure in larger social housing developments, ensuring that social housing is safe, connected and vibrant.
- Developing a positive public understanding of the role of social housing.
- Introducing a regulatory mechanism for letting agencies and rent control schemes to ensure people are not priced out of the private rented sector.
- Supporting independent housing advice services.”
Preventing Homelessness (p74)
“At the end of March 2021 there were 44,000 households waiting for a home, with almost 14,000 children growing up officially homeless. Any future reformed Housing Executive must ensure those figures are reduced. Alliance believes it is critical that the following safety nets are put in place to help homeowners and tenants locally.
A number of measures are necessary. These include:
- Ensuring implementation of the proposed Homelessness Strategy for 2022-27.
- Providing access to independent advice for people in mortgage or rent arrears, including emergency help at court proceedings.
- Strengthening the pre-action protocol for mortgage arrears proceedings to ensure all reasonable options to avoid possession are considered thoroughly.
- Introducing similar pre-action protocols for social housing rent arrears possession proceedings to ensure eviction is always a last resort.
- Raising awareness of the role of discretionary housing payments for people at risk of eviction because of housing benefit cut.
- Adopting a positive approach to the assessment of homeless applications from people at risk of repossession as a consequence of debt.”
Institutional Change (p91)
“We have repeatedly made the case to the UK Government that the following changes are critical:
A statutory duty should be placed on Executive departments to ensure cross-departmental working at both ministerial and official level. This is critical for delivery on cross-cutting Programme for Government (PfG) objectives and beyond.”