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New homelessness legislation

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The most fundamental reform to homelessness legislation in over 30 years comes into force across Wales.

The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 has introduced a fundamental reform to homelessness legislation.

This is a new, inclusive system designed to help everyone at risk rather than just those in priority groups:

  • a new duty to help anyone threatened with homelessness within the next 56 days
  • a duty to provide help to any homeless person to help them secure a home
  • a power rather than a duty to apply the intentionality test
  • new powers for Local authorities to discharge their homelessness duties through finding accommodation in the private rented sector
  • stronger duties on Housing Associations to support Local authorities in carrying out their homelessness duties.

The purpose of the legislation is to achieve:

  • fewer households experiencing the trauma of homelessness
  • better, more targeted, prevention work
  • increased help, advice and information for households who receive limited assistance under the current legislation
  • more focus on the service user, helping them to address the causes of homelessness and make informed decisions on finding solutions to their housing problem
  • more effective use of the private rented sector as a solution to homelessness
  • a stronger emphasis on co-operation and multi-agency working
  • greater protection provided for children in households who are homeless or threatened with homelessness as well as additional help for children leaving care.

The main changes to homelessness legislation came in to effect in April 2015. Additional resources are being provided for local authorities to support the change to the more prevention-focused approach.

We have reviewed our current homelessness grant programme to ensure it is targeted at services and support that complement the aims of the new legislation. Our Supporting People programme also plays a significant role in preventing homelessness, and we expect local authorities and Regional Collaborative Committees to ensure closer working links between the Programme and homelessness services and activities.

Running concurrently with the above research, Shelter Cymru (external link) and Cymorth Cymorth (external link) have been funded to seek the very important views of service users. Their project, Citizen Engagement on Homelessness Services and Legislation Citizen Engagement on Homelessness Services and Legislation (external link), has been designed to be complementary to the research above.

This has led on to the establishment of the Take Notice project Take Notice project (external link), which gives a voice to service users and, through this, helps services become more user-friendly.

Shelter Cymru have published Equal Ground Standard Equal Ground Standard (external link) for homelessness services to ensure they provide a positive environment for people seeking help.

Contact

For more information on the Shelter Cymru project, contact Jennie Bibbings.

Email: jennieb@sheltercymru.org.uk.