Emergency housing demand in Wales causing considerable concern

Emergency housing demand in Wales causing considerable concern

Local authorities in Wales have said that there is an increasing concern over the rising demand for temporary and emergency housing across the country.

The comments come as Conwy council prepare to discuss a forecasted £200,000 overspend on their emergency housing budget.

When asked, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) claimed that the national scale of the challenge was indeed getting bigger.

The Welsh Government itself said that they had put aside £20m extra funding in order to tackle the issue over the next two years.

The overall demand for housing service in Conwy shot up 33% between April 2015 and March 2017 according to a report.

Since the Housing Act Wales (2014) introduced new duties for councils to prevent and relieve homelessness, the increase has come about.

Conwy has a £225,000 emergency accommodation budget, but this was exceeded by £50,000 last year and the projected rise is to a mammoth £425,000 for 2017/18.

The report claimed that changes in the type of households needing help and increasing demand were the core reasons for the budget pressures.

Aaron Shotton, the WLGA’s spokesman for housing, said: “There is increasing concern, really, right across Wales.

“The latest statistics for the last 12 months show there has been a 29% increase in those people presenting themselves as being threatened with homelessness and that is a significant increase in one year alone.

“I know that local authorities right across Wales are successfully preventing homelessness but the scale of the challenge is increasing.”

Charity Shelter Cymru also added that there has been a 45% drop in the use of bed and breakfasts in the year and an 8.5% drop in the use of temporary accommodation in 2017 after the new housing legislation kicked into effect in April 2015.

“However, what we’ve seen since then is numbers of households in temporary accommodation creeping back up, which is a trend very much linked to the rising demand on homelessness services,” a spokeswoman added.

A lack of funding for essential services to prevent homelessness, welfare reform, rising levels of poverty and a lack of affordable housing options were all pointed to.

The most recent Welsh Government figures showed that the total number of households that were threatened with homelessness within 56 days in 2016/17 was 9,210 – up from 7,128 from the year before.

By the end of June 2017, there were 1,980 households in temporary accommodation, 207 of which coming in the form of bed and breakfasts, while this figure included 27 families with children.

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