“Preventative new duties for councils will require partnership working and a culture shift”, says Joanne Drew, Director of Housing and Wellbeing at social justice charity, Nacro
“Homelessness continues to spread across all areas of the country as councils spend £2 million a day housing people in temporary accommodation, with access to longer term housing under strain. It should be little surprise that the latest government figures reveal that between January and March 2017, there was a 2% decrease in action taken by local authorities to prevent and relieve homelessness, in comparison to the same period in 2016. Meanwhile, the total number of households in temporary accommodation on 31 March 2017 was 77,240, an increase of 8% in comparison to the same period in 2016. Within this challenging context local authorities have a real task to gear up for new duties as part the Homelessness Reduction Act.
“At Nacro, we work to ensure disadvantaged groups can access the housing and support they need. We welcome the Act and its extension, in particular to single people who may have mental health needs, people who have addictions, those in contact with the criminal justice system or young people that do not have a secure family environment. These vulnerable groups all too often end up homeless in the current system. Our experience of working with these groups tells us that a transformation in the way that councils deliver their homelessness prevention and relief duties will be required.
“An outward facing, person-centred approach is necessary to engage with people at an early stage, and to keep them engaged when they may have chaotic lives and circumstances that make this difficult. There is a need for councils to shift away from ‘catching people when they fall’ to stopping them from falling in the first place. This can be achieved through working in partnership with local organisations that already provide expert support and housing options for vulnerable groups.”