The national housing and homeless charity Peter McVerry Trust has published its Pre-Budget Submission ahead of Budget 2021. The charity is asking the Government to ensure that the housing and other support needs of vulnerable and marginalised groups are prioritised in Budget 2021. It comes as the charity set out seven key asks ahead of the Budget which will be delivered on the 13th October.
Pat Doyle, the charity’s CEO, said “We are asking Government to ensure that the key needs and supports required by people who are or are at risk of, homelessness are protected and well resourced. In our submission to Government we have set out seven key asks ranging from increasing targets to house rough sleepers, ensuring vulnerable students are supported and that mental health services are expanded and improved to take account of the impact of Covid-19.”
“We are keen to see the national Housing First targets increased because it is hugely successful in housing some of the most complex cases in homelessness, be they people who are sleeping rough or people who have been accessing emergency homeless accommodation for a significant period of years. We believe an increase of 25% on the existing targets over the next three years can be resourced with a relatively small investment in the overall homeless budget.”
“The success of Housing First is also linked to one other key ask of Government and that is ensuring we are funding an adequate number of one-bedroom homes. There are huge budgets set against housing delivery but we need to see an increase in the delivery of one-bedroom homes and we need to ensure that each local authority is providing enough of them. This is the only way we can reduce the number of single people in accommodation, otherwise, we will continue to overly focus on three and four-bed family homes.”
The charity, which has been a leading advocate on the issue of tackling vacancy and dereliction, is also calling on the Government to strengthen the financial viability of re-use projects.
“We are a strong advocate for, and deliverer of, the Repair and Leasing Scheme. We have successfully delivered schemes across the country and know first-hand the potential that exists to do more. We have advocated for the past few years for an increase in the budget thresholds and again are calling on the Government to lift the cap on the scheme from €40,000 per unit to €60,000.”
“We also feel that a reduced rate of VAT on construction projects that see empty buildings brought back into use for social housing would be sensible. It’s a move that would reflect the sustainability we are trying to achieve with our housing programmes. Making existing buildings easier to convert into new homes in existing urban environments has many wins, not least taking people out of homelessness for good.”
Mr Doyle also called for the Government to ensure that vulnerable students are supported in the Budget with new funding streams to deal with trauma and mental health supports as a means of ensuring students are not excluded from schools.
Among the other measures proposed by the charity is the introduction of a bursary scheme to encourage people into careers in social care/social work.