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Welsh councils must tackle causes of homelessness, watchdog says

Local authorities in Wales need to do more to tackle the ‘underlying causes’ of homelessness, auditor says.

In order to deal with the growing homelessness crisis, the Welsh government introduced the Housing Act (2014) which requires local authorities and their partners to focus specifically on prevention. It also provided more funding for implementation.

A new report from the Auditor General for Wales looking at the implementation of these new duties has concluded that councils are making progress - but still need to do more to deal with what makes people homeless in the first place.

The report found the changes needed to reduce much of the demand for services and prevent homelessness are ‘not always happening’.

Authorities need to equip their staff with new skills and different ways of working, it said, but this was only happening effectively in some councils.

The Auditor also found that despite the additional funding, some authorities have not reviewed their services to prevent homelessness. This means people in Wales get very different help, depending on where they live.

More needs to be done to reduce the overall demand for services by tailoring services to deal with people much earlier especially in education, social care and other services, the report concludes.

Auditor General, Huw Vaughan-Thomas said today: ‘My report today highlights that despite the positive intentions of the Welsh government to prevent homelessness, local authorities continue to focus on managing people in crisis rather than stopping them getting into crisis in the first place.

‘To truly prevent homelessness public bodies need to take a long-term view and work with other organisations to really tackle the issues that cause homelessness.

‘This requires a focus on, for example, better educational attainment, access to employment, well planned transition when leaving care and access to welfare benefits.’