Written answers

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Emergency Accommodation

Photo of Cian O'CallaghanCian O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay North, Social Democrats)
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46. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the action he is taking to ensure that staff working in privately-run emergency accommodation and services for persons experiencing homelessness and that are in receipt of public funds are Garda vetted; when the National Quality Standards Framework will be applied to privately run accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48605/21]

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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My Department's role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at a local level. My Department does not provide homeless service directly but contributes to overall expenditure incurred by housing authorities in the provision of homeless accommodation and related services.

Exchequer funding provided by my Department is governed by a Protocol agreement between my Department and the lead authority in each region. This Protocol sets out the funding arrangements and structures to ensure adherence with statutory requirements and public financial procedures. The Protocol requires that local authorities and their service delivery partners, including voluntary NGOs and private operators, comply with all statutory codes including the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, the Fire Services Acts and the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012-2016.

In respect of Garda vetting, the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012-2016 sets out the legal requirement for Garda vetting and the parameters for same. While many of the NGOs working within the homeless sector have members of staff and volunteers that are vetted under the Act, homeless services are not currently specifically identified in the relevant legislation whereby vetting is mandatory. My Department is actively engaging with the Garda National Vetting Bureau and the Department of Justice in this regard with the objective of ensuring that where it is needed, Garda vetting is made available under the Act.

All homeless accommodation that is provided by local authorities and funded by my Department, are required to comply with standards. The National Quality Standards Framework (NQSF) for homeless services is in place nationally for local authority and NGO delivered services. The NQSF specifically provides that service users are safeguarded and protected from abuse and their safety and welfare is promoted where services are provided. The Dublin Region Homeless Executive has recently reframed the quality assurance arrangements under the NQSF to cover all privately operated facilities and these are currently being rolled out.


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