Tackling the needless and preventable problem of homelessness is a key priority for Communities and Children Secretary Carl Sargeant.
Addressing Shelter Cymru’s annual conference in his first speech since responsibility for Housing was returned to him, Carl Sargeant will say he is determined to do everything in his power to address the problem.
He will highlight the emphasis on prevention in the Housing (Wales) Act which he took through the Assembly in 2014, and the Welsh Government’s commitment to making sure that this is implemented in practice.
He will also remind delegates of the Welsh Government’s commitment to increase housing supply, by doubling the number of new affordable homes to 20,000.
He will say: “Providing people with a safe, warm and secure home remains a key priority. This is why we have committed to an ambitious target of providing a further 20,000 affordable homes during this term of government. We have made good progress in this area, but we will do more.”
He will also say that he wants to make greater progress in reducing the number of young people placed in Bed & Breakfast accommodation.
Carl Sargeant will say: “We have already taken steps to ensure closer working between homelessness teams and children services in local authorities but I want much more done to avoid the use of temporary accommodation.
“I understand the calls for an outright ban but need to have another alternative in place to avoid young people having to be sent to accommodation miles away from family, friends and training or education placements.
“I am very pleased that more than half of our Local Authorities no longer use Bed & Breakfast accommodation for young people, but I believe that there is more we can do to encourage Children’s Services to work even more closely with their Housing colleagues when planning and delivering services.”
He will say that key organisations will meet to discuss this issue next month and new plans on youth homelessness prevention and care leavers’ accommodation will be published shortly.
The Cabinet Secretary will also emphasise that he is fundamentally committed to doing everything he can to give children in Wales the very best start in life and to giving every young person the same opportunities.
Carl Sargeant will say: “Issues such as, domestic violence or substance misuse can have a devastating impact on a young person’s life. I want to find new and innovative ways in which we can break the cycle of damaging childhood experiences. Providing access to a safe secure home can play a crucial role in this.”