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The Homeless Reduction Act (HRA)

The Homeless Reduction Act (HRA)

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The Homeless Reduction Act (HRA)

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  1. The Homeless Reduction Act (HRA) Kent Housing Group 19 September 2017

  2. Background National Context

  3. Homelessness Levels

  4. Numbers in temporary accommodation

  5. Rough Sleeping

  6. Homeless Legislation A brief history Housing Act The National Assistance Act & the Welfare State Becoming law in 1997, it introduced the two year limit on the rehousing duty and broke the link between being accepted and being made a priority offer from council waiting list 2002 This Act stated that LA’s (at that time specifically Social Services) had to help people who had no settled residence, who were in need (age, illness or disability), who were in need of accommodation and who were ordinarily resident Homelessness Act 1996 This removed the two year limit on the rehousing duty and re-established the link between being accepted as homeless and being given a priority on the waiting list. More importantly it expanded the number of priority need categories and introduced homeless strategies. Local Government Act 1977 Responsibility for providing help to the poor was transferred to the local council where it remains today Housing (Homeless Persons) Act First true piece of homelessness legislation in that it dealt with it specifically. The act later incorporated into the Housing Act 1985 and gave legal definitions of homelessness & priority need: essentially the same ones we have today. In practice it excluded most people without children 1948 1929

  7. HRA Background • In 2015, Wales implemented new homeless legislation which had a focus on prevention • Following this, the homeless charity Crisis carried out a mystery shopping exercise to understand rising homeless numbers in England, particularly rough sleepers • From the findings, 16 Local Authorities showed that the quality of housing advice available to homeless households was generally poor, and sometimes unlawful & found the treatment of homeless people by councils to be unacceptable • Conservative backbench MP, Bob Blackman initially presented this as a Private Member's Bill to Parliament and it sailed through the parliamentary process • Rare that legislation receives such strong cross-party support but the HRA attempts to tackle a problem that shows no signs of easing • Received Royal Assent on the 27 April 2017

  8. The Homeless Reduction Act 2017 • The HRA sets out a framework for the biggest changes to homelessness legislation since the 1977 Act was introduced • It amends Part 7 HA1996 – does not replace it • It proposes several new duties, many of which will require a change in working practices, and additional resources. • There is a focus on prevention - earlier and more proactively • New ‘Prevention’ duty and ‘Relief’ duty (up to 56 per duty) • If unable to prevent or relieve, the main homeless duty kicks in • Advice services must in particular meet the needs of people released from prison, care leavers, ex-Armed Forces, victims of domestic abuse, people leaving hospital, those suffering from mental illness, and anyone else identified more at risk of homelessness. • LHAs will be required to continue to support a household that has stayed in the property even if 56 days have passed

  9. The animation automatically begins. Definition of homelessness and threatened with homelessness: This clause extends the period during which a local housing authority (LHA) should treat someone as threatened with homelessness from 28 to 56 days, and sets out the action LHAs should take when someone applies for housing assistance, having been served with a notice to end an assured shorthold tenancy. Duty of Local Housing Authority to provide advice This clause strengthens and extends the general advice duty, requiring the LHA to design a service that meets the needs of certain groups at risk of homelessness. Homelessness prevention duties: this clause includes new duties to those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness, to: • carry out an assessment; • agree a personal housing plan; • help prevent homelessness; and • help to secure accommodation for all eligible applicants, regardless of priority need.

  10. The animation automatically begins. Duty owed to those who are homeless: This clause further amends the 1996 Act, placing a duty on LHAs to relieve homeless for 56 days by helping applicants to secure accommodation regardless of priority need. Deliberate and unreasonable refusal to cooperate: This clause also amends the 1996 Act to introduce the provision for the LHA to serve a notice on the applicant where it is considered they have deliberately and unreasonably refused to cooperate with the authority to help prevent their homelessness. Local connection of a care leaver: This clause amends the 1996 act to clarify the circumstances under which care leavers should be treated as having a local connection with the LHA.

  11. The animation automatically begins. Review of decisions This clause proposes additional rights of review in relation to new duties in the HRB. Duty to refer This new duty applies to all public authorities specified in the regulations to refer cases to the LHA if they consider that a person in England, to whom they exercise functions, may be homeless or is at risk of homelessness.

  12. Duty to Refer • Duty of public authority to refer cases to the local housing authority • Requires public authorities in England specified in regulations to notify a LHA of service users they think may be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless • Required to have consent from the individual before referring them and allows them to choose which LHA • This part of the Act ensures that good practice becomes a legal duty. • Service partners should decide how this will work in each local area as they are best placed to decide what shape the working relationship should take

  13. Current position from the DCLG • In a letter addressed to all Chief Executives, the Minister confirmed that the HRA will commence in April 2018 • Stated ‘I very much hoped that your authority is already preparing for implementation of the Act and will use the coming months to ensure that you are ready to meet the new duties at the commencement date’ • Plan to publish a draft of the Code of Guidance in the autumn ahead of publication of the final document in spring 2018 • Regulations for the Act (including on the Duty to Refer) will be laid in the Winter stating; • ‘Officials will work closely with the relevant government departments and their delivery chains to ensure effect communications and workforce support ahead of commencement’

  14. Predicting the impact to Kent • Asked to look at this for Joint Chiefs • Extremely difficult to predict trends • Used a common template provided by Andy Gale, one of the best known names in the field of homelessness work • This was also similar to the one used by the Association of Housing Advice Services (AHAS) when carrying out the same exercise for the London authorities. • Based on 18 months of Welsh data so percentage increase robust • However, in the South East this is likely to be underestimating and demand could double

  15. Predicting the increase in homeless applications for 2018/19 Total additional applications expected in 2018/19 as a result of the HRA Estimated increase in homeless applications due to the new duty on public authorities to refer. Minus 23% which is the average number of households found to be not homeless or lost contact following assessment Number of homeless applications in 2016/17 Estimated increase due to the rise in homeless applications across England & Wales Estimated increase in homeless applications based on the evidence from Welsh local authorities 2018/19 23% 10% 25% 26% 2016/17

  16. Estimated increase in demand

  17. Funding the additional burdens • £48 million initially allocated by DCLG, increased to £61 million under pressure - promised over 2 years • After this it is expected that savings through preventing homelessness will make the Act self funding • DCLG working group looked at the formula for distribution • Expected in the ‘autumn’ – delayed by the election • Not yet known whether the funding will be ringfenced • Estimated it could cost London boroughs £161m to implement the new duties (AHAS) - what does this mean for other Councils nationally? • Exec member for London Councils states because of new legislation, estimated increase of £77m in temp accommodation in London alone • Kent authorities should expect between £50-£70k per authority • Estimated it could cost Kent authorities almost £6m which includes staffing costs, PRS accommodation and the new review burdens

  18. What to expect • A change to front facing services? • Increased pressure on staff who will be absorbing the work the additional funding did not meet? • Demand for Housing Options staff? • Changes to Allocations Policies? • Lack of knowledge – more challenges? • Legislation - to be determined by case law?

  19. Questions?