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‘The new Homelessness Reduction Act makes it clear that the S188(1) duty can only be brought to an end once the relief duty has come to an end which means that there will be people staying much longer in interim accommodation than has been the case so far.’

It is no secret that the biggest challenge for local authorities with regards to meeting the needs of the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) is to decide what model will work.

Minos Perdios, of Housing Reviews Limited says: ‘For some local authorities it will be best to have one person deal with the prevention and relief stages and also assessing under the main duty criteria. However, for others it will best to split the service amongst multiple officers.  Whatever the model local authorities will need to engage the private rented sector, think outside the box when it comes to developing accommodation within their local area and forming non-traditional partnerships.’

Under the current system, if a single man approaches the Council claiming to suffer from mental health problems, the Council will accommodate him, as they have reason to believe that he is homeless, eligible and have a priority need. Currently, this is not causing any issues as local authorities can complete their enquiries fairly quickly and on issuing a S184 not in priority decision letter they can evict meaning that such applicants are only in interim accommodation for a few days. However, under the new system a local authority will not be able to evict until the relief duty comes to an end and this can be for as long as 56 days.

Therefore, if we continue following our current practices, we will see a significant increase in ‘live cases’, leading to a lot of applicants potentially having an open case with the local authority in excess of four months.

We need to ‘Think out of the box’ explains Minos, preventing homelessness and the need to accommodate under the main duty forces many authorities into thinking that ‘nothing will change’ due to lack of affordable housing in private rented sector. This is where we need to look for innovative solutions.

‘If I was a front-line officer, reviews officer or manager the thing that I would want from an IT system is for it to do almost everything for me! I would expect the system to guide me step by step through the requirements of the legislation, forcing me to cover all aspect of the legislation and helping me to ask the right questions and make the right enquiries to make a legally sound decision. I have found such a system in HOPE, the Homelessness Reduction Act software service delivered by Home Connections and Homefinder UK.’

‘It has been clear to me from the outset that Home Connections share the same passion and desire to create a unique IT programme that truly meets the needs of officers working in relation to the HRA. For that reason, Housing Reviews have decided to work with Home Connections to deliver software which will help to reduce workload of frontline staff.’

 

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