Hartlepool ‘well prepared’ to help the homeless

editorial image

A civic chief says the local authority is ready to meet its new responsibilities to help homeless people.

From next month, local councils will have to do more to help people without a permanent home or at risk of becoming homeless under the Homelessness Reduction Act.

Councillor Kevin Cranney, chair of Hartlepool Borough Council’s regeneration services committee, says systems are already in place to make sure the local authority meets its new responsibilities.

Coun Cranney said: “We are well prepared as a council. We are already ahead of the legislation.

“We have got systems in place with partners to support people.

“With the bad weather we have just had we put measures in place to enable people we think would be affected into accommodation.

“Within the regeneration department we have just been restructuring our housing staff who will be able to link into the community hubs.”

Hartlepool is getting just under £87,000 from the Government between now and 2020 to help meet the new requirements of the Homelessness Reduction Act.

And it is to receive just under £90,000 for the current and next financial year in a ring-fenced Flexible Homelessness Support Grant.

But Coun Cranney said future funding arrangements are less clear.

The Government has not stated whether the Flexible Homelessness Support Grant will continue after 2018/19 or if it will continue to be ring-fenced

Coun Cranney added: “This could cause a financial burden on us as a council after the two years.

“Universal Credit is now really starting to bite and take effect.

“It is causing big issues in terms of people forgoing mortgages and their houses are getting repossessed.”

Under the new act the length of time local authorities should treat someone as threatened with homelessness will double from 28 to 56 days to try to provide help before it is too late.

Councils will also have a duty to prevent and relieve homelessness for all eligible applicants threatened with homelessness regardless of their priority need.

Coun Cranney said homelessness was often a hidden issue affecting younger people who stay at friends’ known as sofa surfing.

The council’s regeneration committee asked to receive an update in six months on how the authority and partners have delivered on the new requirements of the act.

Councillors also asked for the council’s housing officer to send them an update every three months of how many people have been supported.