COPE Galway has welcomed Budget 2017 as being broadly positive and encouraging with the focus on housing and addressing homelessness, with a commitment to provide €1.2 billion for the implementation of the Housing Action Plan; an additional €105 million towards the expansion of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP ) Scheme and an additional €28 million towards emergency homeless accommodation are all measures welcomed by the local charity.
However COPE Galway say that more could have been done in Budget 2017 to address the inadequate supply of housing in Galway currently.
Reacting to Budget 2017, Martin O’Connor, COPE Galway Assistant CEO commented, “While we welcome an attempt to address homelessness and the housing crisis, the focus of the additional €28 million allocated only for emergency accommodation needs to be expanded to also support people to secure their own homes and to help those at risk of homelessness to retain their homes.”
He continued, “Our experience shows a high proportion of families and individuals who are becoming homeless because landlords are moving out of the sector and selling their properties. Equally, in the absence of any rent certainty measures, rents in Galway will continue to increase and contribute to more people becoming homeless. It is questionable as to whether HAP can deliver additional 15,000 tenancies in the context of housing shortages and rising rents in the private sector”.
In relation to other measures in Budget 2017, Martin O’Connor said, “The €5 increase in pension and basic social welfare, along with a reduction in the cap on prescription charges for over 70s is also a step in the right direction. However, we were disappointed to see no increase in provision of home care and no restoration of the original 32 weeks of fuel allowance in the Household Benefits Package. Also, the social welfare rate increase is not applying to under-26s. They will only receive a €2.70 increase on already reduced welfare rates – this will mean that young homeless people will continue to be trapped in homelessness”.