Local authorities have a duty under the Housing Act (Wales) 2014 to review homelessness in their area, develop a strategy to prevent homelessness and provide help for people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.
Local authorities take their responsibilities to address homelessness very seriously and have acted proactively over recent years to prevent homelessness by providing housing options services. This approach has been successful and has reduced homelessness and the use of bed and breakfast accommodation, but it has not eradicated the problems. Many households in Wales still face homelessness and the numbers are likely to increase as a result of continuing cuts in public expenditure.
The Welsh Government’s Ten Year Homelessness Plan for Wales (2009-19) provides a framework for local authorities planning and services at a local level. The aims of the national ten year plan are:
- Preventing homelessness wherever possible
- Working across organisational and policy boundaries
- Placing the service user at the centre of service delivery
- Ensuring social inclusion and equality of access to services
- Making the best use of resources
Homelessness Prevention Toolkits
New homelessness legislation introduced in 2015 brings additional homelessness duties and powers for local authorities, which will focus on:
- preventing homelessness for anyone who is at risk of being homeless within 56 days
- providing local authorities with the power to use suitable properties in the private rented sector to accommodate people who are homeless
Homelessness prevention services in Wales have expanded over recent years, but work is still required by some local authorities in order to further develop services. The WLGA has developed two toolkits to help local authorities to develop and adapt their services in this area.
- This toolkit focuses on the housing options interview and the actions local authorities can take to help someone avoid homelessness
- This toolkit focuses on developing private rented sector access schemes to provide accommodation for people who are at risk of homelessness. These schemes have an important role in addressing homelessness, given the power that local authorities have to use the private rented sector to meet their homelessness duties
Links: Shelter Cymru / Homeless Link
For more information contact: Jim McKirdle