New Leeds homeless advisors to deal with 'significantly increased' workload

Tents are often used by homeless people in Leeds.
Tents are often used by homeless people in Leeds.

Leeds City Council is to employ two additional senior housing advisors to help homeless people following a “significant” workload increase since a new law came into effect.

The Homelessness Reduction Act came into force on April 3 this year, and means local authorities have a duty to actively prevent homelessness when people are at risk of it, and develop a personalised housing plan for those affected.

It represents “the most significant change to homelessness legislation” since 1977, according to a council report.

The authority has identified an “underspend” of £160,000 in its Flexible Homelessness Support Grant, provided by the government.

This will go towards creating two new Senior Housing Advisor posts within the authority.

The council report says that “additional work burdens are significant” just weeks after the law has been implemented, mostly because of the need to develop housing plans for every eligible homeless person.

The new law replaces the duty only to provide housing advice to anyone who requires it.

Under the new act, each local authority has to publish details of how it intends to prevent homelessness, and the personal plans must set out the circumstances that led to a person being homeless, as well as agreed actions to help them retain or secure alternative accommodation.

It must also be kept under review until the council decides that no further duty is owed to the person.

A council spokesman said:“We are creating these posts over two years to provide swifter and more effective decision making.

"These posts, and the team of Housing Advisors they manage, will provide face to face housing advice as well as developing personal housing plans with every homeless person, with an initial 56 day term, assessing priority status for re-housing and securing suitable temporary accommodation.

"Work-loads within the team have increased significantly since the new legislation was introduced due to the requirement to develop individual personal housing plans.

"Funding from central government is likely to only cover around half this additional work-load. These posts are part of a wider investment the council is making to put in place prevention initiatives and resources.”

Funding figures for posts include costs such as national insurance and holiday pay. Actual salaries will be £29,115 to £30,756, with post holders starting on the lower figure

The plan comes after the government separately earmarked £71m for councils to meet the new legal duties, with Leeds City Council receiving £561,000 between 2017/18 and 2019/20.

New posts at Leeds Housing Options have already been approved in February, using those funds.

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