Hi all, this is a brief snapshot of the homelessness reduction act for those of you who are unaware it this new piece of law.(more information to follow in the next few weeks)
Homelessness reduction act what does it mean? And why is it being introduced
Homelessness in the UK is at critical levels and has been increasing for the past 10 years. Official statistics released in December last year show that the homelessness has risen by 65 percent since 2010! and is continuing to increase. as a result the government has been forced to act, introducing the Homeless Reduction Act 2017.
The Homelessness Reduction Act (‘the Act’) came into force in April 2018. The Act will change existing homelessness act in a number of key ways:
· Council’s must provide more advice assistance and information about homelessness and the prevention of homelessness A review of homelessness legislation found that the information and advice provided to single homeless people needed to be much more effective. Under the Act, everyone in a local housing authority’s district should be able to access free information and advice on preventing homelessness, finding accommodation when homeless, it explains the rights of people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness, and the duties of the council, any help that is available from the council and/or anyone else and how to access that help
· Extension of the period ‘threatened with homelessness’ Under current legislation, an applicant is only considered as threatened with homelessness if they are likely to become homeless within 28 days. Under the new Act, the period ‘threatened with homelessness’ is extended; a person is threatened with homelessness if they are likely to become homeless within 56 days, or if they have been served a valid section 21 notice that expires in 56 days or less.
· Introducing new duties to prevent and relieve homelessness for all eligible people, regardless of priority need and whether or not they may have made themselves homeless intentionally e.g if a family is evicted for rent arrears. Currently, most prevention and relief work undertaken by a housing authority sits outside of the statutory framework. This has led to many single homeless people only receiving limited information to support and help them when homeless. Under the new Act, all eligible people who are found to be homeless or threatened with homelessness will be entitled to more tailored support from the housing authority, regardless of priority need and intentionality. Support to prevent homelessness is available to everyone regardless of local connection.
· Introduces assessments and personalised housing plans, setting out the actions housing authorities and individuals will take to secure accommodation Under the Act, housing authorities will conduct an assessment with all eligible applicants who are homeless or threatened with homelessness and develop with them a personalised housing plan. A housing authority does not have to directly secure accommodation’
· Deliberately and unreasonably refusing to cooperate Housing authorities may take certain actions if an applicant deliberately and unreasonably refuses to cooperate with the key steps in their personalised housing plan. This requirement aims to incentivise applicants to engage in prevention and relief work.