Budget 2024 will do little to ease the burden on people experiencing or in-danger of homelessness says the CEO of the Dublin Simon Community.
While some of the measures announced will bring short-term relief to tax-payers and families, the Budget overall does not go far enough to address the issues outlined by Dublin Simon Community as being necessary.
Dublin Simon Community welcomes measures that will ease the burden on renters and potentially prevent people from entering homelessness in the first place. This includes increased tax credits for renters, efforts to maintain the number of properties available for rental through measures for small landlords, and incentives to return vacant and derelict properties to use.
Measures to increase HAP and RAS tenancies are tentatively welcomed, these are needed until social housing builds are available to those in emergency accommodation. However, the property supply required may not be in place to support these increases. Additionally, a national homeless Budget of €242 million, a slight increase on 2023, is welcomed.
Dublin Simon acknowledges other measures such as a €12 increase in welfare and pension payments, but is concerned that this does not go far enough in delivering ease to people struggling to make ends meet.
The very prevalent and often complex health needs of people experiencing homelessness is well documented. Dublin Simon is disappointed that more has not been done to increase the mental health budget overall and note, at this point, the lack of any transparency on health spend allocated to homeless healthcare initiatives.
Also welcome is the increase in the cap on the VAT compensation for charities from €5 million to €10 million, a measure called for by Dublin Simon in its pre-Budget submission.
Finally, Dublin Simon notes the lack of commitment to addressing pay deficits and staffing issues in Section 10 and Section 39 organisations, which continue to be 10-12% lower than their counterparts in state agencies. The current challenges around attracting and retaining staff is an intolerable risk for the wider sector and the people served by homelessness & housing organisations.
Dublin Simon CEO, Catherine Kenny, said: “While we welcome the measures that have been introduced in Budget 2024 and the continued commitment to Housing For All, this budget will not be the turning point we had hoped it would be. It does not reflect the urgency we are seeing on the ground, and it does little to generate tangible change for organisations such as Dublin Simon who are at the frontline of trying to end homelessness.”