Responsibility for welfare payments is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Social Protection.
My Department's role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local or regional level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of accommodation and related services for homeless persons rests with the housing authorities and the implementation of the homeless strategy at local and regional level is being carried out through the framework of statutory homelessness action plans adopted by housing authorities.
The Programme for Government is committed to reviewing and updating the national adult Homeless Strategy including a specific focus on youth homelessness, and to implementing a housing led approach to homelessness. Work is now almost complete on updating the strategy and the review will take account of demands on existing housing, assess how best to continue providing services and seek to ensure more effective prevention strategies.
There is no single solution to increasing the level of social housing supply for the homeless, and maximising delivery will require flexible and diverse approaches. The initial emphasis will necessarily be on the Dublin region, where homeless numbers are most acute, by moving away from the current over reliance on emergency accommodation provision to a more permanent accommodation solution. This is to be achieved through a number of measures including:
directly linking the provision of funding with specific targets and outcomes;
making better use of the existing available accommodation units in the local authorities and in the voluntary sector;
additional social housing provision through acquisitions and remedial works/upgrading of vacant local authority housing stock and a leasing programme;
ongoing engagement with NAMA to secure properties;
targeted use of the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS);
an enhanced role for the private rental sector;
better co-ordination with the voluntary and cooperative housing sector; and
the establishment of Homeless Action Teams across all regions.
My Department's current funding provision for the running costs of homeless accommodation and related services for 2012 is €50 million, which, together with 10% provided from housing authorities' own resources, brings the total available funding to €55.55 million in 2012. This level of funding means that there will be no reduction in the provision of essential frontline support services.
Responsibility for the new Youth Homeless Strategy rests primarily with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in view of the HSEfor the care and welfare of children and young people (up to age 18) who can no longer remain at home. I intend to work closely with Minister Fitzgerald in the interests of joined up service provision and proper care and discharge procedures to ensure that 18 year olds moving on from child-care services have appropriate follow-up care and accommodation arrangements in place to prevent homelessness.