New legislation to tackle homelessness

New legislation to reduce and prevent homelessness will place significant increased duties on Telford & Wrekin Council – amid concerns that it will not be adequately resourced.

New legislation to tackle homelessness

The Homelessness Reduction Act represents the biggest change in legislation on the subject for 40 years.

It transforms the help councils are expected to provide to all homeless people and requires councils to try and prevent people from becoming homeless by intervening early.

Key measures include:

•An extension of the time during which a council should treat someone as threatened with homelessness from 28 to 56 days

•A new duty to prevent and/or relieve homelessness for all people, regardless of priority need

•Providing  a personalised housing plan to identify actions in order to prevent or relieve homelessness

•A new duty on public services to notify a local authority if they come into contact with someone they think may be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless

To help Telford & Wrekin Council deliver the requirements of the Homelessness Reduction Act, new sources of funding have been made available by the government.

The New Burdens Fund will provide £178,579 over three financial year to 2018/19. 

Councillor Richard Overton, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for Housing and Enforcement, said: “This is a very positive piece of legislation aimed at tackling the whole issue of homelessness which has to be welcomed.

“It represents a complete change of ethos for local authorities and an estimated 50 per cent increase in workload for our housing team.

“However the big issue is with how the delivery of the new duties are resourced. We do not know exactly what the implications will be and the available funding is time limited.

“It may mean we require additional resources to improve the service and it also means we would need some empty properties to allow for emergency admissions. We would however be liable for rent and council tax while those properties are empty.”

A report on the Homelessness Reduction Act will be discussed by Telford & Wrekin Council on January 4. 

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