Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty
Today, I have published for consultation, a draft of the National Pathway for Homelessness Services to Children, Young People and Adults in the Secure Estate. The document is available on the Welsh Government’s website.
As part of work to develop and implement the new homelessness legislation which came into force at the end of April through the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, considerable attention has been devoted to the needs of all prisoners so they can avoid becoming homeless upon release from prison. The work was also extended to include the needs of individuals who are remanded in custody for a very short period, as experience has shown some have become homeless after losing their accommodation because their landlord was unaware of their situation.
Prisoners who are considered, for some reason, to be vulnerable will still be considered as being in “priority need” under the homelessness legislation. However, unlike the previous legislation, prisoners do not automatically qualify as being in “priority need”. Our goal is to ensure all prisoners can benefit from the extended duty on Local Authorities to help people who are within 56 days of becoming homeless. To do this, the support has to reach out to prisons to help prisoners prior to release.
A multi-agency working group, comprising Local Authorities and all the key housing providers and criminal justice agencies, has developed the National Pathway to provide all prisoners with better coordinated and more effective help in assessing their housing needs and in finding a solution. The Pathway will ensure all of those due for release with a housing need, will gain equal access to support to either retain accommodation or find alternative accommodation as anyone else. The Pathway has two elements covering adults and young people, which reflects some differences in the arrangements between the two.
When it comes to accommodating former offenders, sharing information around risks is vital to ensure the most appropriate accommodation can be found. The process outlined in the Pathway will ensure our Local Authorities have access to improved information on risks to help ensure appropriate and suitable placements can be made.
I am keen to hear the views of everyone with an interest in the Pathway and what it seeks to achieve. The responses will inform the final version.
My goal is to prevent people being released from custody from becoming homeless, thus helping to ensure their successful resettlement. The Pathway provides a framework for all the agencies operating in this field and, as such, can take partnership working to new levels, with better services for all prisoners and, importantly, the opportunity to make the best use of limited resources.
The consultation on these proposals will run for 12 weeks until 24 September 2015. Details of how to respond are set out in the consultation document.