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Homelessness Reduction Act review: our practice thoughts

Lisa Naylor, Local Authority Practice Consultant

 

The government recently published its promised 2-year review of the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA), consisting of an open call to evidence and an independent evaluation. We explore what this tells us about the Act’s practical implementation and how successful these early years have been. 

From the outset, it was expected that the practice changes required to adapt to the new legislation would be challenging, especially in the early stages. It is therefore pleasing to see a positive theme running through the report, and it aligns well with our work supporting five local authorities with the Act’s implementation for the last two years

The positives 

  • The new prevention duty has increased the ability of local authorities to do effective work with non-priority customers 
  • The new duty to refer is working well with Job Centres and Probation services, with stronger links being forged between organisations 
  • Local authorities, as expected, are now establishing a better understanding of the Act within teams and working more efficiently and effectively as a result 
  • New burdens funding was very helpful in allowing local authorities to make changes and recruit new staff to meet increased demand 
  • Some local authorities have seen the value in recruiting new staff for their ethos and values, rather than housing knowledge alone, to help embed the spirit of the HRA within their service 
  • H-CLIC reporting requirements, although very burdensome at the start, now seem to be less time-consuming 
  • Almost all local authorities have implemented most of the changes they planned back in 2017 

Areas for improvement 

  • Local authorities feel the administrative burden of the HRA is still high 
  • Further staff training is required to fully embed the culture change needed and ‘spirit of the Act’ 
  • Affordable housing supply is a real problem for some local authority areas and, without this, obtaining positive outcomes is especially challenging 
  • Duty to refer needs to be strengthened – although working well with some organisations, the inclusion of frontline as well as strategic officers is suggested as a way to improve further 
  • The outcomes for complex needs customers need to be improved 
  • Analysis of data from H-CLIC and recording upstream preventions could work more effectively 
  • Communication with customers could be improved in some areas, with Personalised Housing Plans and effective casework highlighted 

Findings from the review show that prevention activity is still very variable across different local authority areas, and more still needs to be done to make sure that everyone who needs it is receiving early help to avoid homelessness.   

What are we doing to address the review’s findings? 

  • We are continuing to work with local authorities to develop tools and offer best practice advice on methods for reducing administrative burdens, whilst delivering effective casework/PHPs. See our project website for the latest  
  • Encouraging, as with all our work, a person-centred approach, keeping customer’s informed and promoting active involvement in the process at all stages 
  • Continuing to promote our motivational Interviewing training to local authorities to help further embed culture change 
  • A project focusing on solutions for complex needs customers 
  • Our prevention/relief offer review tools to help local authorities analyse  their data in terms of success and identify gaps in provision 

If you want to know more about our work and future plans, please get in touch or visit our project website

For media enquiries:

E: media@crisis.org.uk
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E: enquiries@crisis.org.uk
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