Minister affirms plan for vulnerable people

Social Development Minister David Hanson MP today reaffirmed his commitment to addressing the problems faced by vulnerable people in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at the Northern Ireland Housing Forum, where he launched a five year strategy for housing supported services in Northern Ireland the Minister said wanted to "focus on the vulnerable members of our society and to do everything possible to ensure that vulnerable people have the opportunity to live in homes which are fit, warm and comfortable.”

The 'Supporting People Strategy for 2005-2010' sets out the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s plans to improve supported services and its vision for housing related services for the coming years.

Launching the strategy, the Minister said: “Supported housing services have an important role to play in helping vulnerable people live independent lives in the community and reducing homelessness. In the past, services available were determined by the requirements of the funder rather than the needs of the individual. The Supporting People Strategy, which is underpinned by significant Government funding, is a clear indication of how we have moved to a situation whereby the provision of support services is determined by the needs of individuals and not by the requirements of funding sources.”

The Minister also highlighted a number of other initiatives which are aimed at helping the most vulnerable and pledged to monitor progress towards achieving the target of eradicating fuel poverty in vulnerable households by 2010.

“Over the past four years the funding available for the Warm Homes Scheme, the main programme for addressing fuel poverty in the private sector, has been increased from £3 million in 2001 to just over £12 million in the current financial year. I am pleased to say that I have been successful in acquiring a further £2.9 million for the Warm Homes Scheme in the current financial year and this will ensure that the targets which we have set – 8,250 households each year, can be met.”

Mr Hanson also outlined his commitment to assisting the homeless - a strategy is to launched later this year.

But he said that addressing homelessness is more than providing bricks and mortar and must be supplemented by suitable housing support services to assist vulnerable people to live in the community.


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