Homeless Connect has made a submission to the Housing Executive’s consultation on their Draft Corporate Plan for 2022 to 2025. The Corporate Plan is an important strategic document for the Housing Executive, outlining what they plan to do as an organisation over the next three years. As the Housing Executive is the organisation with legal responsibility for responding to homelessness here, the course charted by the plan will have a significant impact on people at risk or experiencing homelessness and the wider homelessness sector.
Homeless Connect welcomes the publication of the Draft Corporate Plan and the overall direction of the plan. We call for some amendments and changes to specific aspects of the plan in our submission. Some of the key points we make are set out below:
- We welcome the shift in this Corporate Plan towards specific targets and goals. The previous Corporate Plan was vague in terms of the inclusion of specific targets and goals which made assessing success or failure in implementation difficult. This is a positive change and we believe it will help to generate better outcomes.
- We call for an amendment to the high level objectives set out in the plan to explicitly refer to homelessness. While there is a reference to the role of the Housing Executive in reducing poverty, we believe it is strategically important that preventing and reducing homelessness is explicitly included in the wording of the high level objectives.
- We welcome the the fact that the Corporate plan makes plain that NIHE is seeking a budgetary increase for the Supporting People programme and for the homelessness services budget. These are two of the key funding streams for organisations in the homelessness sector here who provide vital services to people at risk of or experiencing homelessness. The Supporting People budget has not had an uplift since 2007, while the baseline for the homelessness services budget has been too low for several years. However, our submission makes clear that the proposed increases to the Supporting People budget being sought by the Housing Executive, while they are considerably better than no increase at all, do not make up for the effective real terms cut which has been experienced due to the failure to provide an uplift to SP since 2007. They are a step in the right direction, but the base reality that even with these increases funding will not be where it would have been if inflationary increases had been granted needs to be recognised. We go on to call for funding for the Supporting People budget to be benchmarked in future to at the very least match inflation. Failure to do that will see the situation which we are seeing playing out currently repeated again in the future.