Leeds City Council expects £1.6m rise in costs but government homelessness funding will cover less than half

The council will have to create personal housing plans for people at risk of being homeless.The council will have to create personal housing plans for people at risk of being homeless.
The council will have to create personal housing plans for people at risk of being homeless.
Government funding awarded to Leeds City Council will meet less than half of the anticipated £1.6m rise in costs when new homelessness legislation comes into force.

A report to its resources and housing director noted that while the £561,000 grant will make a “significant contribution”, it falls short of covering the additional costs likely to arise over the next two years.

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It means every eligible person will get a personal housing plan setting out how the council will prevent a threat of homelessness, relieve their homelessness and meet legal duties.

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The report said: “The council is actively preparing for the introduction of the new Act in respect of training staff and updating practice.

“The use of government funding will enable the council to put in place the right staffing resources and to invest in additional prevention initiatives.”

Local authorities across the country are each being awarded a share of a £71m fund designed to help them to meet the new legal duties they face when the Homeless Reduction Act 2017 comes into effect on April 3.

Leeds will receive £561,000 until the end of 2019/20, which it plans to spend on employing three more senior housing advisors, an additional four housing advisors and extra preventative measures.

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The council, which is “already geared towards homeless prevention”, is forecast to have stopped approximately 9,300 people becoming homeless during 2017/18.

Although the changes coming into effect on April 3 might not mean helping more people, similar laws introduced in Wales and a pilot of the new English legislation in Southwark found that extra homelessness reduction duties increased workloads by 26 per cent.

The council’s report said: “This isn’t necessarily that more people are approaching the service for assistance; rather that the work needing to be carried out is more in-depth and formal.

“Essentially, people who were previously considered not to be in priority need for re-housing and were offered verbal advice and assistance, now need a personal housing plan to be developed setting out how homeless can be prevented or relieved.”

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If there is a 26 per cent rise in workloads, the council estimates it would need to spend roughly £480,000 more per year on staffing and £100,000 more on prevention interventions such as bond payments and security installations.

The report said: “The government funding of £561,000 [split over two years] is therefore not going to be sufficient to meet the projected £580,000 per year cost of the increased service demand; nevertheless, the new funding can make a significant contribution.”