New law to reduce homelessness comes into force
The most fundamental reform to homelessness legislation in over 30 years comes into force across Wales today.
The main objective of the law is to ensure people who are homeless or facing homelessness receive help as early as possible.
The legislation places a duty on local authorities to work with people who are at risk of losing their home within 56 days to help find a solution to their problems. It is hoped the new provisions will prevent three out of four people at risk of homelessness from losing their home.
From today, local authorities also have more flexibility to use privately rented accommodation to provide a home to people who are facing homelessness.
Communities and Tackling Poverty Minister, Lesley Griffiths, said:
"Today, we have reached a major milestone. This legislation is a UK first and the most significant piece of homelessness law in well over 30 years.
"I recognise the challenges faced by all those involved in the housing sector, with continuing pressure on public finances, the rising cost of living and increasing demands on the affordable housing supply. This is why we are implementing this forward-thinking legislation, which focuses on the prevention of homelessness and reducing the number of people who go through the trauma of becoming homeless.
"From today, there will also be a greater focus on the reasons why people are at risk of losing their home and earlier intervention to help families, children and other vulnerable people facing homelessness to help ensure their lives are disrupted as little as possible."
The new provisions, which form part of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, require greater joint working between the Government, local authorities and the housing industry – including the private rented sector and housing associations.
The Welsh Government has supported local authorities over the past year to help them prepare for the changes in legislation and has provided additional funding, guidance and training programmes to ensure it is introduced successfully.
Cllr Dyfed Edwards, WLGA spokesperson for housing said:
"Offering early help to those at risk of losing their home and tackling the causes of homelessness at their source, offers a much more effective long term solution for reducing the level of homelessness in Wales.
"Local councils and their key partners have already been working to put a wide range of proactive services in place, and over the past year a huge amount of preparatory work has been done to ensure the ambitions of these new homelessness laws can be introduced successfully."
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