Research commissioned by the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) has revealed that every £1 spent on the £65m Supporting People programme saves the public purse £1.90.
The findings published today estimate that without the Supporting People housing support programme additional costs of £125.05m per year would be incurred. The costs would be through an increased need for services in housing, health and social care, and criminal justice.
Introduced in 2003, the Supporting People programme provides a wide range of housing support services to help people sustain their accommodation and live as independently as possible in the community.
Among the 26,000 people in Northern Ireland relying on Supporting People are the frail elderly, people with disabilities and homeless people.
Cameron Watt, Chief Executive of NIFHA, said: “Supporting People has been an immense success. It has enabled thousands of people to sustain their accommodation and live with as much independence as possible by providing preventative housing support services.
“The new research confirms that it is worth every penny and saving taxpayers millions through avoidance of costly hospital admissions and reliance on other services.
“We welcome the fact that Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey and the NI Executive have protected the Supporting People budget for 2015-16. Service providers are working with government to reform services and make them even more effective.
“To protect vulnerable people and minimise pressure on other public services, it is vital that Supporting People is recognised as a vital ‘invest to save’ programme.
“To fulfill its objectives, the NI Executive must ensure Supporting People remains a properly funded, dedicated housing support programme well in to the future.”
Seamus McAleavey, Chief Executive of NICVA said: “With the current squeeze on public spending we need to know what works and what value is for money. Supporting people is a significant public expenditure programme and NICVA wanted to explore if it was value for money.
“The figures revealed in this research suggest that simply cutting the Supporting People budget is unlikely to save the government money, and may even result in greater costs overall.
“Investing in Supporting People delivers a net benefit to government finances because, for example, it helps to reduce alcohol and drug use, homelessness, and the need for residential care – all of which create costs for the public purse.
Phil Saunders, Consultant at SITRA, who carried out the assessment of the financial benefits of the Supporting People Programme, said:
“Our initial findings estimate that the total cost of providing services to the vulnerable groups who benefit from Supporting People is currently about £637.81million which includes £65.6million direct expenditure on the programme itself as well as the cost of other services received.
“The findings indicate that, by comparison, if Supporting People funding were not available some £762.86million would be required to fund alternative provision and deal with the cost of adverse life events, including homelessness, which would be more likely to be experienced by service users if the programme were withdrawn.
“The difference between the two figures, some £125.05million, is substantial and suggests that every £1 spent directly on Supporting People saves the public purse roughly £1.90.”
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