Housing developmentThank you Mr President

I thank the Chairman of the Housing and Communities Board for its Homelessness Strategy (2023-28) report. 

As I mentioned in October, becoming homeless, or even the fear that this could potentially occur to someone is one of the most difficult experiences that can happen to any individual or a family on the island. 

I do appreciate the publication of this report by the Board, but I am not entirely sure that this homelessness strategy actually sets out a comprehensive and clear plan to address homelessness on the Isle of Man. 

Although it is great to see the Housing and Communities Board working towards integrating and modernising all housing policy, law and provision on the island, I do feel that the strategy document appears to be missing key information and vital data, in order to give us a genuine overview of the scale of homelessness on the Isle of Man, and how we intend to fully address those serious concerns. 

On page 3 of the report there is a “pie-chart”, but there is no actual data to support it, so we have no understanding of the scale of demand, the complexity or the amount of support that will be needed to end homelessness on the Isle of Man.

The report also fails to mention how many individuals or families are considered homeless on the island at the moment, and neither does the report give an overview of how many other individuals or families are actually facing a potential homeless situation this Christmas. 

We really do need to fully understand the scale of homelessness first before any action can be taken. 

On page 8 of the report, the Committee sets out their ambition and vision, which I fully support – although part of the vision statement does look like a copy and paste straight from the Department of Health and Social Care’s annual report when it mentions the “right service, the right housing and at the right time”.

With regards to the eight mission statements, one of them talks about defining homelessness on the Isle of Man, and that statement surprises me….

…because as I mentioned last month, a Tynwald Select Committee looking at Accommodation for Vulnerable Young People back in 2018/19 made a recommendation that legislation should be introduced into the branches containing a statutory definition for “Homelessness” on the Isle of Man, and that was four years ago. 

At the time, the Council of Ministers said that the DOI and DHSC were asked to commission a feasibility study around this particular point, and therefore I am surprised that this recommendation wasn’t formally transferred to the Housing and Communities Board when it was established in November 2021 by the current Chief Minister.    

Personally, I would have expected to see a very clear definition of homelessness” on the Isle of Man within the first couple of pages of this very important report. 

That said, I fully acknowledge that “Exceptional Needs Grants and Budgeting Loans (Amendment) Regulation 2022” does give us an insight into what the islands definition of homelessness could look like…..

…because those regulations talk about a “person threatened with homelessness or if a person is likely to become homeless within a period of 56 days. It also confirms that a person on the island is considered homeless if they have accommodation, but cannot secure entry to it. 

We really do need to define “Homelessness” here on the Isle of Man, in order to help shape policy, frameworks and to be able to draft the right legislation and regulations around this very important topic, because as I mentioned previously homelessness impacts different people in many different ways.

Does the Chairman or the Board actually have any solid data around how many people or families on the Isle of Man could be described as homeless at the moment, especially when using that period of 56 days that was highlighted within the Exceptional Needs Grants and Budgeting Loans regulations 2022? 

Mr President 

I would also like to thank the Chairman and the Board for looking to introduce a “single entry point”, in order to allow individuals and families to access support and services, but we need to ensure that happens right across all Government Departments, Boards, the third sector and all Utility Companies on the island, in order to help reduce the number of people that appear to be struggling in silence at the moment.  

There is still a mountain of work to be done, but I wish the Chairman and the Board all the best.      

Thank you Mr President