Minister Alan Kelly's comments on homeless funding keep row rumbling on
Tensions between the Government and local authorities have increased amid the Minister for the Environment’s criticism of local authorities over the homeless crisis.
Alan Kelly has claimed that funding is not an issue and has said he needs greater cooperation from local authorities to solve the problem.
However, an organisation representing councils has rejected Mr Kelly’s assessment of the situation.
“I believe it (the homeless crisis) is down to funding,” said president of the Association of Irish Local Government, Padraig McNally.
“Realistically, we are not going to solve this problem overnight. We need a big increase in funds.”
Meanwhile, the Herald can reveal that Dublin City Council’s finance chief, Kathy Quinn, raised concerns about the levels of funding available to tackle homelessness in correspondence with the Department of the Environment within the last month.
She also warned that the sums being spent on the crisis were likely to increase. “The level of expenditure being incurred on homeless services increased disproportionately to other local authority service costs in 2014.
“If presentation levels in 2015 remain at 2014 levels, the cost of homeless service provision will further increase.”
Ms Quinn made the remarks in response to the annual Department of Environment audit of Dublin City Council.
She also raised concerns over the number of families being made homeless.
“An important and unwelcome aspect of this trend has been an increase in the number of families with dependent
children presenting as homeless.
“Many of these households have to be accommodated on a temporary basis in hotels – which is expensive and unsatisfactory,” Ms Quinn wrote.
Mr Kelly has insisted that funding is simply not an issue when it comes to the crisis.
“Local authorities, particularly local authority members, need to look at themselves in regard to decisions they are going to have to make in the coming months.
“I can get more funding. If I look for more funding from government in the morning, I’ll get it.
“It’s as simple as that. What we need is greater co-operation,” Mr Kelly added.
The minister’s insistence that funding is not an issue was also disputed by Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy, Mike Allen.
“On the ground, there are issues about funding.
“If he (the minister) says that the funding is there and (we) can draw it down, then we don’t know about that.
“The local authorities, the minister and the department should sort that problem out,” Mr Allen told the Herald.
“At a higher level there needs to be greater coordination between government departments and cabinet in terms of moving the various initiatives along faster,” Mr Allen added.