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Equality, Rights, Prevention and Austerity Developments in Welsh Homelessness Legislation PowerPoint Presentation
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Equality, Rights, Prevention and Austerity Developments in Welsh Homelessness Legislation Dr. Peter Mackie, Cardiff University. The context. Recent primary law making powers for Wales The Welsh homelessness review: - International homelessness policy review;

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slide1

Equality, Rights, Prevention and Austerity

Developments in Welsh Homelessness Legislation

Dr. Peter Mackie, Cardiff University

slide2

The context

Recent primary law making powers for Wales

The Welsh homelessness review:

- International homelessness policy review;

- Impact assessment of existing legislation;

- Interviews/discussions with key stakeholders.

The presentation

Emerging principles of the new legislation

An overview of the new legislation

New prevention and alleviation duty

Amended second stage duty

Somewhere safe to stay duty

slide3

If you were given a blank canvass and asked to design homelessness legislation for Scotland, what – if anything - would you change?

slide4

Emerging principles of the new Welsh legislation

  • Retain a legal duty
  • Incorporate homelessness prevention
  • Recognise that homelessness is not just a housing problem
  • Make greater use of the available housing stock
  • Develop a fairer system that assists all households in a meaningful way
  • Achieve these amendments at no additional cost to local authorities
slide5

An overview of the new Welsh homelessness legislation

New ‘first stage’ duty

Existing ‘second stage’ duty

  • Most existing duties retained where first stage is unsuccessful in assisting to find or retain accommodation.
  • Some amendments will be made to specific tests under the second stage duty but the broad framework remains the same as the status quo
  • This will be the first stage of the legislative process
  • The authority must take all reasonable steps to assist the applicant to prevent or alleviate their homelessness
  • This intervention is intended to be relatively short, sharp and focused

All homeless households

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The New First Stage

Prevention and Alleviation Duty

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New First Stage ‘Prevention and Alleviation’ Duty

  • A duty to take all reasonable steps to prevent or alleviate homelessness the result of which is the reasonable prospect of the applicant being accommodated for a minimum period of 6 months
  • The duty is owed to all households which are homeless or threatened with homelessness (2 months).
  • In taking the required reasonable steps, the local authority must consider the range of possible mechanisms to enable the individual to sustain existing accommodation or acquire suitable accommodation.
  • In discharging this duty the authority would have to give due regard to local housing market conditions, the support needs of the applicant’s household, and their views and preferences.    
  • Local authorities must have taken reasonable steps within 56 days from the date of the application. Local authorities will have the power to continue taking steps to prevent and alleviate homelessness where the applicants consents.
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The duty will be discharged by either:

  • 1] The household finding suitable accommodation either through retention of their existing accommodation or finding alternative accommodation.
  • 2] Notification to the applicant that reasonable steps have been taken and have not been successful
  • 3] Refusal by the applicant of the ‘solution’
  • Where a first stage duty has been discharged, there will be no right to a further application until the applicant’s circumstances have changed.
  • The applicant will have the right to internal review and then to appeal to the Court if they believe that the First Stage duty has not been achieved.
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Full homelessness application

  • Households who proceed to the second stage will no longer automatically be entitled to a social rented sector tenancy,
  • The local authority will be able to discharge their duty by offering a social rented tenancy, a 12 month assured shorthold tenancy in the private rented sector, or where there is agreement from the applicant - a 6 month private rented sector tenancy.
  • The applicant will retain existing rights of review and appeal at the second stage

Amendments to specific tests at Stage Two

  • Intentionality: - The duty to investigate intentionality will become a power
  • - There will no longer be intentional homelessness decisions for households with children, including under 18s
  • Priority need: - Plans to strengthen the focus of priority need on vulnerability over time. Welsh Government will carry out further work to review the status of former prisoners and rough sleepers.
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The somewhere safe to stay duty

  • The authority must identify on the first day of the application whether the applicant has somewhere safe to stay
  • If the applicant does not have a safe place to stay, the authority will be required to find the household safe and suitable accommodation until: a] the person finds their own safe accommodation or b] the first stage duty is ended.
  • Where the applicant continues to be subject to assistance under the second stage and has no safe place to stay, the authority will be under a continuing duty to provide safe and suitable accommodation until the applicant’s priority need status is determined and if they are in priority need until the second stage duty is discharged
slide13

Conclusions

EQUALITY: Greater fairness

RIGHTS: Homelessness ended for thousands more households but not the comprehensive safety net achieved in Scotland

PREVENTION: The end of contradictory policy and legislation

A shift from application processing to problem solving

A reduction in the trauma of homelessness

AUSTERITY: Minimal resource implications for the state:

More interim accommodation required but not on the Scottish scale

Additional lets into the private rented sector

Fewer lets into the social rented sector

A transitional cost to local authorities (£2.4m over three years)

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Equality, Rights, Prevention and Austerity

Developments in Welsh Homelessness Legislation

Dr. Peter Mackie, Cardiff University