I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 40 together.
On 2 May last, I launched a major Government strategy on homelessness. The strategy is based on the report of the cross department team on homelessness which was established by the Cabinet committee on social inclusion to examine comprehensively the issue of homelessness.
The essence of the strategy is that action plans will be drawn up at city and county level detailing how accommodation, health, settlement and welfare services will be provided to homeless persons by all of the agencies involved in providing these services. In addition, a homeless forum will be set up in each county under the auspices of the local authority housing strategic policy committees.
My Department has issued copies of the strategy to all local authorities is urging early implementation of the measures that have been identified. Local authorities have been asked to produce action plans, jointly with health boards and voluntary bodies, within three months and by the end of August at the latest. My Department will monitor progress on these actions.
Substantial funding has also been made available to ensure that the measures in the strategy are implemented. Capital funding will be doubled over the next five years from £20 million to £40 million to provide suitable additional accommodation. Additional current funding of £6 million per annum will be available from my Department to increase payments for the provision of hostel accommodation by voluntary bodies and local authorities and to establish settlement and outreach programmes. Additional funding of £6 million will be available from the Department of Health and Children to fund the provision of in-house care in hostels providing accommodation for homeless persons. Copies of the strategy, which is entitled Homelessness – an Integrated Strategy, are available in the Oireachtas Library.