“Budget 2023 needs to be effective, whatever about being early,” – COPE Galway
COPE Galway, in its Pre-Budget Submission, is highlighting that the cost of living crisis is compounding the already precarious living circumstance of a growing number of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
The local Galway charity works with and supports vulnerable and at-risk households in Galway. They have called on Government to increase basic social welfare and pension rates by a minimum of €20 per week. They have also sought an increase of €15 per week for fuel allowance and an extension to the period of time it is paid.
“This is a rapidly changing and deteriorating situation for a growing number across our community. Many are increasingly fearful of what the coming winter and beyond will bring,” said Martin O’Connor of COPE Galway. “We are calling on Government to take action in the upcoming budget to insulate people against the worst impacts of the crisis we are facing into. For many, keeping the lights on and having food on the table while keeping a roof over their head, cannot be taken for granted”.
COPE Galway’s submission to Government has a particular focus on the housing and accommodation crises. It calls for a prioritisation of the additional social housing builds under the Housing for All plan. It seeks an increase in Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) limits to reflect the reality of higher rent levels and to refocus the recently increased homeless HAP uplift of 35% on achieving its original objective of supporting people to exit homelessness. “People who are reliant on HAP need to have a fighting chance to secure rental accommodation to help prevent them falling into homelessness,” said Mr O’Connor.
“There were a record number of people nationally living in emergency accommodation this July. Unfortunately this figure is continuing to grow as more and more people are on notices to quit their private rented accommodation,” explained Mr O’Connor. “Social housing is the viable and sustainable solution to address the housing needs of many of these households. Families, couples and single men and women are falling into homelessness. Their situation is at best precarious. It is therefore vital that new additional social housing units are built quickly,” Mr O’Connor added.
COPE Galway also feel there is an emerging urgent need for a temporary ban on evictions and a freeze on rents. “We are all too familiar with firefighting situations on a daily basis in the course of our work but more than simply trying to dampen down the flames is required at this stage. We need some form of fire break – and a ban on evictions and a freeze on rents can help,” continued Mr O’Connor.
“In a time of need and crisis, choices have to be made. Budget 2023 is an opportunity for us to call on Government to bring forward the necessary measures that will help those in difficulty and prevent more people falling into precarious living situations,” concluded Mr O’Connor.
COPE Galway’s vision is for a community where every person is valued, cared for and supported at every stage of life. The local charity’s mission is to make a difference by empowering people, creating change and strengthening communities.
In 2021, COPE Galway supported 2,885 men, women, children and young people across Galway city and county. Their services are for people in our community who are homeless, who experience domestic abuse or for people who require nutritional support or support with independent living at home as they get older.
COPE Galway’s approach is one of understanding that each person has personal attributes and strengths that can make positive differences in our own lives when facing challenges such as homelessness, domestic abuse or keeping healthy and active in older age. COPE Galway has been providing essential social services across their Homeless, Domestic Abuse and Senior Support Services to the people of Galway, on behalf of the state, since the 1970s. They offer support services from 12 locations across the city with a team of over 180 employees and over 200 volunteers.