Supporting individuals and families experiencing homelessness is a priority for this Government. Rebuilding Ireland, the Government's Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness includes a range of measures relating to the provision of emergency accommodation and the range of supports to be provided to households experiencing homelessness.
In 2018, the Government increased the funding available to local authorities to provide homeless services by over 25% to €146m. This funding will increase by a further €20m to €166m in 2020. Under the delegated funding arrangements in place between my Department and the housing authorities, a significant proportion of the homeless budget is provided, under contract, to NGOs involved in the delivery of homeless services. For example, in 2018, services amounting to approximately €78.5m were contracted by the housing authorities to NGO service providers. As such, the NGOs are key service delivery partners with my Department and the housing authorities.
I regularly meet with management and staff of the NGOs and have visited many of the services operated by the NGOs. I have also met with many of the individuals and families accessing these services. My Department is working with the local authorities on the implementation of the National Quality Standards Framework for homeless services. The Framework, which has been fully implemented in the Dublin region, is being introduced nationally over a 12-month period since 1 July 2018. A central element of the Framework is the focus on the service user, and in particular, that the service users needs and views are sought and responded to at all levels of service delivery.
Earlier this year, my Department established the National Homelessness Consultative Forum, which includes representatives of the largest NGOs delivering homeless services and representatives from each of the regional Homeless Consultative fora nationally. This Forum provides a formal structure for engagement between the Government Departments and State Agencies involved in the delivery of homeless services and the NGO service providers.