Charity urges education grant and counselling for homeless children

Charity urges education grant and counselling for homeless children

One of the country's leading homelessness charities has called for every child who has been forced out of their home to get an education grant and specialist counselling.

The Peter McVerry Trust said the issue should be a priority in Budget 2018 - due to be announced on October 10, World Homeless Day.

The charity warned that if the unprecedented housing crisis continues at the current rates 8,300 people will be homeless by that date.

Chief executive Pat Doyle said: "At the core of our proposals is housing. Increased provision of affordable and social housing is the only way to deal with the current homelessness crisis in an effective and sustainable way.

"The need to deliver large volumes of affordable and social housing stock is the housing issue that requires immediate Government attention and increased investment."

But the Peter McVerry Trust warned of the distinct impact of homelessness on children and young people.

The charity called for any under 18s who suffer from the crisis of not having a home to be given guaranteed access to counselling services and child psychologists.

"We are also calling on the Government to establish an educational bursary for every child and teenager who has experienced homelessness," Mr Doyle said.

The charity noted that half of the people in homeless services are under 24.

The Government needs to take urgent action to tackle the rising number of young people becoming homeless.

Peter McVerry Trust wants the Government to put funding in place to ensure children and teenagers, who are currently experiencing homelessness, have access to the necessary mental health care and educational funding needed to allow them to achieve their full potential and prevent them from experiencing homelessness again in later life.

"There are steps that the Government can take to ensure this figure doesn't grow any further," Mr Doyle said.

"These include restoring social welfare payment rates for those aged under 26, and ensuring that adequate levels of housing and support services are made available to those who are exiting state care and in danger of becoming homeless."

The Peter McVerry Trust issued the Government with a 12 point plan to ease the unprecedented crisis.

On empty homes it reiterated its long-standing demand for a tax or levy on the value of properties left lying idle and vacant and it said the penalty should be combined with the incentive of an exemption from Capital Gains Tax for owners who sell empty homes to housing agencies.

Other initiatives put forward by the charity include a national Housing First Programme

Peter McVerry Trust believes the Government needs to expand the Housing First programme to provide long-term suitable accommodation and supports for the homeless.

It urged increased funding for councils to start building homes again and a defined link between welfare assistance payments for rent and the actual market rate.

The charity called for one and two bed units in the Government's rapid build programme and for a boost to the Capital Assistance Scheme for housing agencies to build accommodation and for the current Repair and Leasing Scheme for empty homes to also be improved.

The trust also urged the Government to increase funding for drug treatment services, to allow greater availability and access to primary services and to increase aftercare and drug-free housing for people coming out of treatment.

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