The Homelessness Reduction Act

Posted on Thursday, April 26, 2018 by Venn GroupNo comments

The Homelessness Reduction Act received Royal Assent on April 27, 2017 and came into effect at the start of this month.

The Act fundamentally changes homelessness legislation by introducing new duties for local authorities to implement measures and take action in order to help everyone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness whether or not the applicant has a priority need, as long as they are eligible.

We have found many local authorities have gone through restructuring within their Housing Options Departments. They have taken on more resources to tackle the uncertainty of what is to come and have provided training to their staff as well as making changes in how they review the approach to homelessness prevention. As the need for prevention heightens, the demand for resources within housing departments will rise and ultimately this is likely to have a ripple effect within the temporary accommodation department.

It is worth noting that the skill set required for Homelessness Prevention Workers differs to Housing Option Officers as they will be required to have the skills to negotiate, mediate, persuade and to build a rapport with stake holders and private landlords to acquire homes that are available for at least 6 months, and to seek alternative ways for tenants to remain within accommodation. Therefore local authorities are now placing value on candidates who understand the framework of “Personal Housing Plans” which outline the steps that a local authority will take to prevent or relieve homelessness as well as understanding the correct steps needed to be taken with various circumstances; such as for those served with Section 21 notices or facing a possession actions, or applicants who have been asked to leave by their friends and family.

Shelter have noted the following “The 2017 Homelessness Monitor shows half (49%) of English councils, and virtually all (94%) London boroughs, report that helping homeless people to find a self-contained private rental is “very difficult” because of the combined effects of rising rents and welfare benefit restrictions, particularly frozen Local Housing Allowance rates.” Therefore, is this a realistic approach to solving the homelessness issue we are facing?

The victims of homelessness may be re-housed; however it is essential to promote independence for them by providing real life training that will enable them to be employable. In the short term homelessness may reduce, but unless it is a catalyst to independence the pressure will increase even more on housing in the UK.

Aaron Wheeler - Housing Consultant

 

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