I propose to take Questions Nos. 18 and 152 together.
Earlier in 2013 I published the Government's Homelessness Policy Statement in which I outlined the Government's aim to end long-term homelessness by the end of 2016. The statement emphasises a housing-led approach which is about accessing permanent housing as the primary response to all forms of homelessness. The availability and supply of secure, affordable and adequate housing is essential in ensuring sustainable tenancies and ending long-term homelessness. When I published the statement I announced a set of indicators which will be used to demonstrate the dynamics of homelessness as it is addressed. These indicators will give a clearer picture of homelessness in Ireland and, in quantifying its on-going extent, will support the bringing forward of realistic and practical solutions. I also established a high-level three-person oversight group for the purpose of reviewing the progress of the approach being advocated in the statement, identifying obstacles and proposing solutions. The group expects to provide me with their first report shortly.
Arrangements have been put in place to provide for the delegation of homelessness funding to the lead housing authority in each of the 9 regions. I consider the regional approach more appropriate as it helps to bring a more strategic perspective to bear on action to address homelessness, including avoidance of over-concentration of homelessness services in certain centres and promoting appropriate regional availability of services, consistent with need. These arrangements place an emphasis on increased decision making at local level, in lieu of the existing individual project based arrangements, to improve overall efficiency and value for money, and allow greater local decision making in homeless services. These arrangements seek to ensure that the measures being pursued by housing authorities reflect the housing-led approach advocated in the policy statement, that actions are in place towards achieving the target of ending long-term homelessness by the end of 2016 and that evidence to support progress will be presented through the reports on the indicators.
My Department is currently engaging with a number of lead housing authorities and is considering the appropriate allocation of the 2014 homelessness budget so as to ensure that Section 10 homelessness funding meets the needs in the various regions.