Cuts to a programme which provides housing services for over 20,000 people will have a severe human cost, it has been claimed.
SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly expressed her concern at the cuts to the Supporting People Programme:
“We are in the middle of a housing crisis. My office is inundated with local people crying out for help with housing issues from the availability of homes to homelessness to special adaptations.
“The demand for good quality, affordable, appropriate and secure accommodation far outstrips the supply available in our communities.
“It beggars belief that at a moment like this, we’re seeing fresh cuts to a critical housing programme which helps 20,000 people.
“This short sighted cut to make short term savings will have a severe financial and human cost in the long term.
“It is yet another example of where the most vulnerable are being left to pay the price of political brinkmanship and failure.”
She added: “The SDLP has made representations to the Chief Executive of the Housing Executive expressing our grave concerns,,, and requesting immediate reconsideration and reinstatement of this funding. We cannot allow some of the most vulnerable people in our society to bear the brunt of this.
“This all underscores the critical need to restore power sharing and take decisions in the interests of the people we represent.”
A Housing Executive spokesperson said; “The Housing Executive can confirm we contacted organisations who receive Supporting People funding regarding this year’s (2017/8) financial allocation.
“While the baseline Supporting People budget has been protected at £72.8m, there are a number of inescapable new financial commitments which need to be met.
“This necessitated a review of the funding previously provided for a number of schemes and regrettably we have had to advise providers of a reduction to some budgets in the order of five per cent.
“This reduction will not be applied to floating support schemes, where we have been able to maintain the budget at current levels as we see it as a priority to support people to stay in their own homes.
“After careful consideration, we deferred the impact of these proposed reductions, initially for the first three payment periods, to allow providers to plan and put appropriate arrangements in place to scale up or scale down service activities accordingly.
“Since then, we provided an opportunity for organisations affected by this situation to meet with us to discuss any potential impact on services and what mitigations can be put in place.
“We will continue to work with providers to attempt to mitigate the impact of these funding reductions.”