Homelessness in Wales at highest level since law changed

Homelessness in Wales has climbed to its highest level since new legislation designed to tackle the problem was passed in 2015, with continuing austerity and welfare reforms being blamed for the increases.

Some 2,997 households became homeless from October to December 2018, while another 2,649 households were identified as threatened with becoming homeless within 56 days. Ministers defended their policies, saying that tackling homelessness and rough sleeping is a priority for the Welsh Government and their measures had already prevented more than 21,400 households from becoming homeless. The Housing Act (Wales) 2014 introduced new duties for councils to prevent people from becoming homeless. Similar measures were introduced in England from the start of April 2018 under the Homelessness Reduction Act.

Increased demand

In the final quarter of last year Welsh councils were successful in finding new accommodation for 43 per cent of the homeless households and were able to prevent 67 per cent of the other households from becoming homeless. However, they could not stop the number of homeless households in B&Bs from increasing to 270 (up by 58 per cent from last year), while the overall number of households in temporary accommodation rose to 2,139, its second-highest ever total. Matt Dicks, director of the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru, said: “The statistics shed a worrying light on the nature of our homelessness challenge. The pressure on social housing supply means that in practice there is an ongoing reliance on the private rented sector and a growing trend in the use of bed and breakfast accommodation, particularly for families with children. He called on the Welsh Government to provide more support for private landlords working with councils to house homeless families and to speed up the roll-out of Housing First across the country.

By Patrick Mooney, Editor