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There’s always more we can do to prevent people from falling out of the homelessness system

Marcia Williams, Senior Best Practice Officer

Thousands of people approach their Local Authorities (LA) every year for support to prevent or end their homelessness, and the majority will have successful outcomes.

However, we also know that this is not the case for everyone.

Crisis, supported by Shelter Cymru, were funded by the Oak Foundation to work with three Welsh Local Authorities from February 2021 to March 2023 to explore ways in which processes and systems could be redesigned to decrease the number of individuals falling out of the statutory housing system, within the prevention and relief duties of the Housing Wales Act 2014.

Welsh Context

Across the 22 LAs in Wales, the fall out rates ranged from 8% to 29% within the LA caseloads of people seen in 2019-2020, averaging at 15.5%, this equates to 4,855 households[1].

If someone does not get the help they need, at the time they need it, it can lead to repeat presentations, which is not only detrimental to the people involved, but also costly to the LA.

Redesigning processes and systems

Each LA received free targeted support from Crisis. Collaboration was central to the project, and because this project took place during the pandemic we worked in an iterative and agile way, using digital tools and platforms that enabled remote working.

What did we do?

  • Reviewed existing service including, team structures, data analysis, case file audits to highlight customer journey experience and current practice
  • Spoke to Housing Options team members and stakeholders
  • Synthesised insights gained and brainstormed solutions and service improvements
  • Developed service improvement ideas into full "concepts", prioritised them and started prototyping and implementing quick wins
  • Handed over a bespoke action plan detailing a comprehensive range of service improvements that could be made
  • Provided 12 months post project monitoring and evaluation support
  • Each LA received an individual end of project report
  • Developed a suite of documents and tools that other LA can use if they wanted to undertake a similar project

What we learnt

Multiple and diverse reasons contribute to individuals falling out of the homelessness system, and they don't always fit neatly into the current outcome recording categories. To reduce fall out rates we need to carry out a series of actions across a range of service areas.

Many of the findings from this project also aligned with those in the: Public Services Ombudsman for Wales-Homelessness Reviewed: an open door to positive change report 2021

The following factors contributed to the project's success:

  • Clarifying objectives at the outset
  • Gathering information and insights from staff and external sources
  • Working in an agile way and being flexible and adaptable to service and team pressures.
  • Engaging with staff at different levels within the LAs to encourage buy-in for change
  • Understanding the context in which LAs were operating alongside geographical differences
  • Providing a structured space for reflection and creative thinking
  • The project provided an actionable blueprint for process improvements across various areas, with the potential to reduce fall out rates.
  • Provided resources that supported actions plans and templates that could be used for future projects.
  • Developing a wide range of improvements across a range of service areas to help reduce future fallout rates.

Despite facing significant pressures, the LAs involved found participating in the project beneficial. With Crisis support, they were able to consolidate information to help guide service improvements and actions that they can now progress at their own pace.

‘It was a really good experience and helped us as a local authority do some of things we have needed to put in place for a while… 

If you would like to find out more about the project, please get in touch.

We also have more resources for practitioners on the Crisis website covering a range of topics.


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