This Article on ‘Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) 2017 is sufficient to curtail the growing homelessness in the UK‘ is written by Suchit. A 3rd year student from NMIMS School of Law, and an intern at Legal Upanishad.
The number of homeless people in the UK has been steadily increasing since 2010. The percentage of sleep-deprived people has increased by 102% over five years. It is estimated that 63.5 million people have been evacuated by the end of 2015. The number of homeless households increased from 40,000 in 2010 to about 60,000 in 2016 (Hudak). The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 is one of the biggest changes to the rights of homeless people in England for 15 years. It effectively bolts two new duties to the original statutory rehousing duty:
- Duty to prevent homelessness
- Duty to relieve homelessness
Shelter supports the legislation because it extends entitlements to help, places a renewed focus on the prevention of homelessness and local joint working, and has the potential to provide more client focussed, personalized statutory homelessness services.
But its laudable aims to reduce homelessness will be undermined without improvements to wider housing and welfare policy. To address both the causes of homelessness and to ensure that homeless households have access to; settled, affordable and suitable housing in each local authority area.
The law requires local authorities to provide free information and advice on:
- Prevent the homeless and secure a homeless home
- The rights of the homeless or those at risk of the homeless
- How to get help
- Information on tenant rights, benefits entitlement, debt, rent and mortgage delinquency advice, support for violent and abusive people, and advice on finding a home in the social and private leasing sectors.
- Local governments, regardless of priority, must take reasonable steps within 56 days to prevent the homelessness of qualified claimants at risk of homelessness. This can consist of helping them stay in their current accommodation, or helping them find a new place to live.
- The local authorities must take reasonable steps to help the applicant find suitable accommodation. Assistance may be, for example; providing a guarantee, lending a rental deposit, or cooperating with a private landlord in providing real estate.
- The local government needs to carry out an overall assessment of the applicant’s housing needs, support needs, and the circumstances that led to his homelessness. As a result of this assessment, they will work with them to develop a private housing plan (About Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA)). The designated “public institution” must transfer the details of all known persons at risk of the homeless to the housing office within 56 days (with consent).
Positive Outcomes of the Homelessness Reduction Act
- By intervening earlier in someone`s homelessness journey it will prevent more people from losing their homes, thus reducing both the human and financial costs of homelessness.
- By focusing on addressing the underlying causes of homelessness such as unemployment or lack of financial literacy as well as the symptoms. Applicants will increase their independence and resilience and be enabled to recover from homelessness in a sustainable way.
- Working together to deliver the Duty to Refer and other early interventions to address homeless should; enhance partnership working and help partners` to deliver their objectives as well as ours.
- Better evidencing of need and `what works` will inform the commissioning process and deliver more effective services.
Deliberate and Unreasonable Refusal to Cooperate Might End Assistance
A local council can end the new prevention and relief duties early by warning an applicant and then giving notice that they have deliberately and unreasonably refused to take any step agreed or recorded by the council in the housing plan. If a person would ordinarily have been owed the main housing duty after 56 days (because they are in priority need and not homeless intentionally), the local council will still have a duty to secure accommodation but this will not be under s.193(2) and can be ended more easily by a private rented sector offer of a 6 month fixed term (s.193B, s.193C, Housing Act 1996).
Support for the Implementation of Homelessness Reduction Act
Municipalities have received £ 72.7 million in New Burdens funding to support the enforcement of the law. Each municipality was allocated three years (2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20) based on the estimated unit price of the two main elements of the law (prevention and relief obligations). Allocations range from over £ 1m in the large London borough to less than £ 50,000 in the small borough council. The three-year period of funding depends on the municipality to achieve increasing savings over time, offsetting the additional costs incurred by law.
Early and more effective prevention is expected to reduce the scope of major statutory service cases and preventive cases to be less expensive than major service cases. Municipalities also received an equivalent of £ 3m (£ 9,202 per municipality) of shares in December 2017 to support IT upgrades and the transition from P1E to HCLIC homeless. £ 186 million in 2017/18, £ 191 million in 2018/19, and £ 200 million in 2019/20 were allocated to local governments through the Homeless prevention grant. During the same period, £ 237 million was available to prevent the homeless under a local government financial reconciliation.
The Homelessness Prevention Act of 2017 is a bold step taken by the government in order to reduce the homelessness rates and improve the lives of people suffering from the consequences of it. From the basis of the research done above, it could be concluded that the current provisions of the law are sufficient enough to curtail the growing homelessness of the UK. It is logical that this was the focus of the pre and post-introduction period of the law. There are essentially step-by-step or long-term areas such as labor development, collaboration with other public authorities on referrals, and restructuring of services to provide the most effective support under the law. While there is some evidence that local governments have moved into these areas over time, it is clear that more work needs to be done to move from compliance to effective implementation.
- Consider making the legal requirements more flexible, especially with respect to the scope of required H-CLIC data fields and the scope of compliance requirements.
- Further promotion of the obligation to speak at the national level.
- Providing additional training to strengthen our culture and casework. In particular, focusing on effective preventive and emergency work with different types of service users.
- Introducing national guidelines and oversight regulations on the obligation to provide information to promote more consistent and effective involvement of authorities in all regions.
1- About Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA). (n.d.). Retrieved from Haringey: https://www.haringey.gov.uk/housing/housing-advice/about-homelessness-reduction-act-hra
2- Hudak, T. (n.d.). The homelessness Reduction Act of 2017. WPI.