Top-up scandal blamed for 20% Simon shortfall

A homeless charity has blamed the Central Remedial Clinic salary top-up scandal for a 20% fall in donations in the run-up to Christmas.

The Simon Communities of Ireland, which work with more than 5,000 people experiencing homelessness, say funding cuts are pushing services to breaking point. Last year they struggled to cope with a 24% increase in people seeking assistance.

The head of the charity’s national office, Patrick Quinn, said more than three quarters of funding for the eight communities around the country came from donations or contributions from the general public or their corporate partners. Mr Quinn said many of the communities were reporting a drop of up to 20% in donations from the public in the run-up to Christmas because of the CRC scandal.

The organisation’s head of policy and communications, Niamh Randall, said every month more people were finding themselves at the edge of homelessness.

“We are doing everything possible to help people who have nowhere else to turn; we have increased accommodation and housing capacity; we are opening up new projects, sometimes with little or no funding from the Government and we are developing new ways of providing housing with support for people who are homeless.”

The Simon Communities 2012 report was launched in Dublin yesterday by Housing Minister Jan O’Sullivan who says she is committed to the goal of ending long-term homelessness by 2016.

“It is unacceptable, as a society, to say that people who are homeless must pay the price of austerity,” said Ms Randall.

“Anyone can find themselves homeless for a wide range of reasons; a job loss, health diagnosis, bereavement, mental health issues, a family problem.

“There may be slow signs of economic recovery but it is a two-tier recovery where those who are the most vulnerable are being left behind.”

Meanwhile, SuperValu has announced it will donate €100,000 from its fruit and vegetable sales this Christmas to Focus Ireland, but would not be reducing the price of its carrots, brussels sprouts and melons any lower than 19c.

The Irish-owned supermarket chain said it was concerned that the race to the bottom on price by some of its competitors was a step too far and would lead to a reduction in food quality and job losses in the farming sector.

However, to show that it will not benefit financially from maintaining its prices at current levels, SuperValu will make a donation of 14c on every bag of carrots, net of brussels sprouts and melons sold between now and Christmas to Focus Ireland.



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