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The Homelessness Monitor: Wales 2015

27.03.2015 397 XX

The Homelessness Monitor: Wales 2015 is the second annual report of an independent study, funded by Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Of the homelessness impacts of recent economic and policy developments in Wales.

Key findings

  • The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 ushers in significant changes to the homelessness legislation in Wales, which sees a far stronger emphasis placed on prevention and relief duties owed to all eligible homeless households/households threatened with homelessness, regardless of priority need. While it is too early to assess the practical impact of these new duties, in principle they appeared to command a high degree of support in both the statutory and voluntary sectors in Wales, albeit some stakeholders regret compromises made in the passage of the Act through the Welsh Assembly.
  • There has been a downward trend in the number of homelessness ‘acceptances’ in Wales since 2011/12. In 2014/15 the total number of acceptances had fallen back to a level 8% below that of 2009/10.
  • Despite their recent decline, recorded statutory homelessness acceptances in Wales remain 70% higher than in England, pro rata to population.
  • There has been a significant shift in the immediate causes of statutory homelessness with ‘family/friend evictions’ in 2014/15 down by 35% as compared with 2009/10, whereas homelessness due to loss of a rental tenancy was up by 20%. This latter trend is in keeping with developments in England where there has been a massive recent increase in statutory homelessness attributable to the loss of a private tenancy.
  • 2013/14 saw a rise in the availability of social sector lettings in Wales, there has been a marked decline in the proportion of those lettings allocated to homeless households – reduced to 18% of all lettings to new tenants, as compared with the recent norm of around a quarter.
  • The Welsh Government would appear to be on track to meeting its own target of providing 10,000 additional ‘affordable’ dwellings over its four-year term; but that falls short of the higher, independently assessed, level of the numbers required (15,000).
  • There has been a decline in new household formation in Wales, particularly since 2010 in the 20-34 age group. This probably reflects both recessionary impacts and welfare benefit changes.
  • The ‘Bedroom Tax’ has a disproportionate impact in Wales, with one fifth of Welsh social sector tenants having had their Housing Benefit reduced as a result of this measure, as compared to 15% in England.

Reference

Fitzpatrick, S., Pawson, H., Bramely, G., Wilcox, S. & Watts, B. (2015) The Homelessness Monitor: Wales 2015. London: Crisis.