Monday, September 30, 2013

Simon says it cannot take further funding cuts

The country’s largest homeless charity has warned the sector can not take any further funding cuts in the upcoming budget.
Simon Communities say cuts signalled by the Department of the Environment in last year’s budget turned out to be far worse than expected. 

While a central budget cut of 3.3% to homeless services was announced, the charity says when filtered down to local level, this turned out to be as high as 12% in the Midlands, 8% in Cork, and 7% elsewhere.

Head of policy Niamh Randall said the problem was exacerbated by the fact that charities were only being notified of the scale of the regional cuts now.

“We’re talking about 2013 funding, but it’s September, so be told at this stage that there’s even less money than anyone thought and to have to make those savings in the last three or four months of the year is very difficult.”

Ms Randall said funding from the HSE, the other main source of finance for the homeless sector, had fallen 20% since 2010.

“What we really need from this year’s budget is for funding to be restored to, at the very least, 2012 levels. Anything less and it’s going to impact very badly on our ability to continue providing services.”

The cuts come as Simon Communities, an affiliation of nine regional Simon services, faces increasing demands on its support network. Up to 5,000 individuals and families are helped by the communities every year, but Dublin Simon last week reported an 88% increase in rough sleepers over the past year.

In its pre-budget submission published today, Simon Communities urges caution in regard to the rent supplement for people on social welfare in private rented accommodation. They say the supplement is not keeping pace with increasing rents and warn against any further increase in the minimum contribution recipients have to make to their rent.

They also call for a speeding up of the transfer of Nama-managed properties to the social housing sector.

Simon Communities supports the Government’s target of eliminating homelessness by 2016 and says it remains achievable but only if a concerted effort is made.

The charity is running a series of awareness events this week, including it’s Home For Good campaign which includes an online petition for members of the public. 

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