Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
The Head of Partnership Services submitted a report, to highlight the changes made to Welsh Government homelessness legislation in respect of the new Priority Need category and to seek Cabinet approval in respect of applying the ‘intentionality test’ to that new category.
In accordance with legislation, he advised that the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 (The Act), places a duty on the Council to assist those who are threatened with homelessness within 56 days by taking all reasonable steps to prevent/relieve homelessness. The duty to prevent homelessness under the Act is irrespective of whether the applicant has a local connection to Bridgend or whether the applicant is intentionally homeless. Those that make a homeless application, but have no local connection, receive advice and assistance only from the Council unless, for example, they are fleeing violence/domestic abuse.
The Head of Partnership Services confirmed, that in the event that homelessness prevention was not successful, there was a duty to relieve the applicant’s homelessness and to take all ‘reasonable steps’ to do so.
The Act also introduced changes in respect of how to apply the ‘intentionality test’. Welsh Government removed the intentionality test for all families with children even if they are found to be intentionally homeless. There was a caveat to this he advised, in that it would only apply if they have not been found intentionally homeless in the last 5 years. The definition of intentionally homeless was outlined in paragraph 3.5 of the report.
Paragraph 3.6 of the report listed the different categories of what the Council considered as homeless under set criteria covered by legislation and/or agreed by Cabinet at a previous meeting.
The Head of Partnership Services further added that the Act also specified 10 categories of households who were to be considered priority need. Priority Need is considered for the provision of temporary accommodation and the final homeless duty to secure permanent accommodation.
At the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Welsh Government (WG) introduced an ‘All In’ approach to homelessness and directed local authorities that no-one was to be without accommodation due to the public health imperative making everyone Priority Need. Therefore, the intentionality test was suspended to respond to the emergency situation at the time leading to greater numbers being provided with temporary accommodation in hotels, Air B+B’s etc.
Whilst some households will not be considered to fall within a priority need group, they will still receive the same level of support albeit they will not be eligible for temporary accommodation.
The current changes implemented by WG have been made with a view to them reviewing the entire Act in the future and therefore it is proposed that the Council apply the intentionality definition to the new category of households ‘Street Homeless’ until such time as this takes place.
The Cabinet Member – Future Generations confirmed that even if individuals looked to become intentionally homeless, the Council with its partners, would still look after them and try to persuade them to secure some form of accommodation. This was not easy however, as some homeless people did not wish to be placed in accommodation. This situation was compounded by the fact that some of these people had very complex health issues/needs.
The Head of Partnerships confirmed that temporary accommodation was available for those on the streets and regular meetings were held with key stakeholders to ensure that those sleeping rough had somewhere to go, particularly in the weather we are now experiencing. There was also assistance from the Rough Sleepers Intervention Team to this end.
The Cabinet Member – Future Generations advised that anyone who had concerns regarding rough sleepers, could report these cases to StreetLink.
The Leader concluded the debate on this item, by reminding those present that 98.7% of people in society did not wish to make themselves intentionally homeless.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet approved that the Council applies the ‘intentionality test’ to the new category of households ‘Street Homeless’ and publishes its intent to do so in accordance with Welsh Government direction.
Publication date: 23/05/2023
Date of decision: 13/12/2022
Decided at meeting: 13/12/2022 - Cabinet