Homelessness staff across the country are generally very enthusiastic about the changes the new legislation will bring when it goes live in April, but many aren’t ready to apply the new law to actual cases, according to Andy Gale, Housing Consultant.
Speaking at Locata’s annual housing event in Bristol on March 23, he told delegates that he has now trained between 55% to 60% of councils and noted that “there is a disconnect between officers’ understanding of the concepts behind the new law and their ability to apply it in day to day situations.”
“Don’t think that people are trained, because they are not,” he said. “Training has concentrated on the new duties but not enough on how you prevent and relieve homelessness in a more difficult climate. People aren’t ready.”
There has been very little publicity for the enactment of the Homelessness Reduction Act on April 3 and it is unlikely to be a perfect start. “The danger is that the cynical members of homelessness teams will come to the fore when you go through the initial inevitable challenges. The new Act is likely to be here for a generation, but the culture will be set in the first 100 days.”
Delegates had earlier heard from Nicola Forsdyke from the MHCLG who gave a perspective from the centre on the challenges and opportunities of the new Act. She was followed by Mike Wright, Chair of the Greater Manchester Housing Needs Group, who set out a sub-regional approach to tackling and addressing Manchester’s homelessness challenge, including ending rough sleeping across the 10 boroughs by 2020.
Nic Abbott from Cheshire East gave a local perspective on implementing the new legislation and described the “prevention and relief split” model they had adopted. She was a big supporter of Locata’s HPA2 system and pointed out that the introduction of the original homelessness system early in 2017 had “saved lots and lots of time and money” – including a drop of 400 plus phone calls a month and more than £6,000 in postage alone.
Peter Riley, Managing Director of Locata, gave an account of the way the new Locata homelessness system has been developed with the help of 27 practitioner partner councils forming the Trial Group and now has 112 local authority customers going live with the HPA2 system.
He was followed by Locata’s Iain Silverton who highlighted some of the key elements in the design and functionality of HPA2 – including the clear and simple dashboards, how easy it is to add your own task groups, task types and questions, and Locata’s unique approach to personal Housing Plans.
All the presentations given on the day are available for download here:
Preparing for HRACT
A sub-regional approach
The local journey to HRACT
The first 100 days