Apex boss warns of lag in cash for vulnerable

Apex Chief Executive Sheena McCallion, with Apex chair, John Meehan.
Apex Chief Executive Sheena McCallion, with Apex chair, John Meehan.

The new Apex Housing Association boss, Sheena McCallion, has warned continuing to run funding for housing support services for vulnerable people behind inflation is storing up a potential crisis.

Ms. McCallion has pointed out that there have been no inflationary tagged increases to the Supporting People (SP) programme over the past ten years.

This, she said, has meant a 25 per cent loss in income for the programme, which is geared towards enabling vulnerable people to live independently in the community.

Upon taking on the new role as head of the Derry headquartered housing association late last year Ms. McCallion told the ‘Journal’ she feared the full roll-out of Universal Credit (UC) over the next four years in Derry would affect a significant proportion of tenants.

Now, in the winter edition, of Apex’s internal newsletter, she has warned insufficient support for the SP programme is another major concern exercising housing support service providers.

“The other reality we are acutely concerned about is the delivery of the SP strategy,” she stated.

“In recent years funding has been stretched with no inflationary increases paid in 10 years. This equates to a 25 per cent loss in income in real terms.

“If services to the vulnerable are not available, many of those people could end up in crisis.

“The unpalatable reality is that if the SP ‘component’ is not adequately financed, the impact may well be passed onto primary, hospital and emergency care services provided by Health and Social Care. We believe that crisis intervention is needed now.”

Supporting People is the policy and funding framework for housing support services. The programme was introduced in April 2003 under the Housing Support Services (2002 Order) (Commencement) Order (Northern Ireland) 2003 and the Housing Support Services Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003.