In recent weeks, housing associations have joined voluntary and community organisations in calling on the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to reverse cuts to the Supporting People Programme. It follows a five percent reduction in annual funding allocation across all SP schemes that may place the viability of services and thousands of hours of support at risk.
The high profile campaign, which has drawn cross-party support, secured welcome news earlier this month when the Department for Communities awarded NIHE with a one-off £2.6million allocation for Supporting People.
However, the allocation of this non-recurrent funding will not be agreed until November 2017 and there is no certainty that all affected providers will be reimbursed for their financial loss. Further, any monies received by providers will be cut again in April 2018, this means all providers have lost the financial assurance needed to deliver strategic annual plans for vulnerable people
NIFHA and our members are calling for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive must reinstate the funding immediately to all providers. There must be a commitment for funding to be adjusted for inflationary uplifts and ring-fenced for five years. This will enable time for a strategic remodelling of the programme.
A strategic reform of the Supporting People programme is needed, but must be based on evidence and be undertaken in partnership with delivery agents to develop a comprehensive plan for the programme.
In the weeks ahead, the Supporting People campaign will be hosting open days across Northern Ireland. You can back the campaign and find out more by visiting:
Twitter.com/KeepSP_NI or Facebook.com/SupportingPeopleNI/