Homeless Connect responds to the Department of Communities Final Budget 2023/4

by | Jun 22, 2023 | News

The Department for Communities has published its final budget allocations for 2023/4. This came after the Department conducted an Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) consultation on the initial proposals. This EQIA highlighted in stark terms the major budget challenges facing the Department this year. As the EQIA outlined, “the 2023-24 Budget allocations result in a Non Ring-Fenced Resource funding gap of £111.2m (15.5%) and a £59m (27.3%) shortfall in Capital required for 2023-24.”

Homeless Connect responded to the consultation and strongly outlined the importance of protecting budgets for homelessness services. As our response outlined: “In the midst of a housing and homelessness crisis, with record high numbers of households with homelessness status, it would be completely illogical to cut resources to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and to the Supporting People Programme. Taking this path will make an already challenging situation even worse. It is highly likely to have the effect of seeing more people fall over the edge into homelessness with all of the consequences this can have for them and for this society as a whole. We urge DfC to do everything in its power to ensure resources are not diverted away from homelessness services.”

You can read our response to the final budget allocation below:

“Homeless Connect welcome the decision on the part of the Department of Communities to increase the homelessness services budget by £2 million and to maintain funding for the Supporting People Programme at the same level as 2022/3. As we outlined in our response to their recent consultation, we are aware of just how difficult the budget settlement proposed by the Secretary of State was for the Department. To their credit, they have listened to the homelessness sector and changed course within the confines of the budget they were given.

However, it should be stated that while these changes to the allocations are welcome in so far as they go, it has to be acknowledged that they do not provide the investment that is needed if we are to take the journey to end homelessness. 2023/4 will be the fifteenth year in the last sixteen where the Supporting People Programme budget has been frozen. The budget allocation for the homelessness services budget fails to meet the requirement for £33.8 million identified by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. A gap of £5.42 million remains for this budget.

Yet again, bids from the Department for Communities for additional funding in these areas has been rebuffed. The rhetoric around protecting the vulnerable which often comes from Government has not been met with the reality of funding allocations. While the Department has acted to try and protect homelessness services to the degree that was possible within the budgetary envelope they had, the stark truth is that the deepening housing and homelessness crisis we are seeing will continue to deepen if this is the level of resources which are provided.

This budget will not generate the shift towards homelessness prevention that we urgently need to see. This is a false economy, which will end up costing the Northern Ireland Executive far more in the medium to long term. Crucially, it is also highly likely that it will lead people to experience homelessness with all of its consequences which could have been prevented. Homeless Connect will continue to strongly advocate for additional resources to be provided so that we can take the journey we need to take if we are to end homelessness.”


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