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Housing (Wales) Act 2014 - Homelessness

Published: 14/07/2017

A report showing how Flintshire County Council is supporting the reduction of homelessness will be discussed by Cabinet Members on Tuesday (18 July). The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 introduced new homeless legislation in April 2015. The homeless service in Flintshire was restructured to maximise capacity, however, there has been an increase in the numbers of households seeking assistance and the service is forecasting additional pressures due to a combination of factors, including the roll out of Universal Credit which will see more families facing financial hardship and needing assistance. Flintshire is proposing a number of new services to manage homelessness in the County. These include proposals to avoid any rough sleeping. Flintshire County Council Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Bernie Attridge, said: “The Council is committed to preventing homelessness, as we have shown through the extensive work we have undertaken. We will continue this work. We go beyond our statutory duty and provide interim accommodation for anyone who has nowhere to stay, irrespective of their priority need status. “Our transition funding allocation from Welsh Government to support the implementation of the new legislation is reduced to £130,000 this year, and we expect that this will be the last year additional funding is available. I’m pleased to say that Flintshire was commended by Shelter Cymru on how it is using this funding. However there are a number of national challenges and external pressures, including welfare reform and decreasing budgets, which are making our work more challenging.” Flintshire County Council Leader, Councillor Aaron Shotton, said: “Housing has long been a priority for Flintshire. On top of the current work being done, we want to explore a completely different approach which aims to reduce some of the trauma of homelessness. Housing First is a different approach that aims to end the use of temporary accommodation by rethinking how we deal with homelessness altogether. “Our proposal is to develop a ‘Housing First’ scheme in partnership with social landlords, and support services. The availability of accommodation means that this will only be a suitable solution in limited cases but could play a significant role in preventing homelessness, B&B stay and unnecessary moves for vulnerable single people or families with children.” Housing First is a model that has been used widely in Canada, the USA and some countries in Europe for people with medium and high support needs and has proven to be effective in terms of people sustaining their accommodation and reducing their use of temporary accommodation, emergency health, prison and other services. The Housing First Model on a small scale could be implemented within existing resources in Housing. If implemented successfully this initiative can reduce pressure on statutory services by reducing hospital admissions, custodial sentences, costs of mental health and drug and alcohol services as well as reduced evictions and temporary accommodation costs.