New research has found that Northern Ireland’s Supporting People housing support programme saves the public purse £125m per year.
The programme provides beneficial support to the following groups of people:
· Homeless people and those who are at risk of losing their homes.
· Socially excluded groups such as substance misusers and ex-offenders.
· People with long-term support needs such as physical or learning disabilities and those who have mental health issues.
· Young people who are vulnerable and at risk.
· Older people who need support to live in their homes or require a particular type of supported housing to suit their needs.
The £65m programme was introduced in 2003 and provides 26,000 people in Northern Ireland with a wide variety of housing support services. These services assist people in maintaining their accommodation and help them to live as independently as they can in their community, 24dash reports.
The research was carried out by SITRA for the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA).
The findings of the research estimates that without the programme, additional costs of £125.05m per year would be acquired through an increased need for housing, health and social care services and criminal justice.
Chief Executive of NICVA, Seamus McAleavey stated, “With the current squeeze on public spending we need to know what works and what is value for money. Supporting people is a significant public expenditure programme and NICVA wanted to explore if it was value for money. The figures revealed in this research suggest that simply cutting the Supporting People budget is unlikely to save the government money, and may even result in greater costs overall.
“Investing in Supporting People delivers a net benefit to government finances because, for example, it helps to reduce alcohol and drug use, homelessness, and the need for residential care – all of which create costs for the public purse”.
Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Association, Cameron Watt stated, “Supporting People has been an immense success, enabling thousands of people to sustain their accommodation and live with as much independence as possible providing preventative housing support services. The new research confirms that it is worth every penny and saving taxpayers millions through avoidance of costly hospital admissions and reliance on other services.
“To protect vulnerable people and minimise pressure on other public services, it is vital that Supporting People is recognised as a vital ‘invest to save’ programme. To fulfil its objectives, the NI Executive must ensure Supporting People remains a properly funded, dedicated housing support programme well in to the future”.
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