Expansion of advice service for people facing homelessness

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News release: 28 February 2018

St Albans City and District Council is beefing-up its advice service for people faced with homelessness in preparation for a change in the law.

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The Homelessness Reduction Act comes into effect on 1 April. It increases the Council’s statutory duty to provide advice and information to people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. The Act doubles the number of days that a person is now considered threatened with homelessness from 28 to 56 days prior to the date given for eviction.

The legislation aims to help prevent homelessness by ensuring housing advice is given to people at an early stage.

It is expected that demand for the Council’s Housing Options advice service will rise significantly as a result of the new legislation.

The level of support provided to people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness will also increase as a result of the new legislation. They will receive advice tailored to their needs and be provided with or sign-posted to relevant support via a Personalised Housing Plan.

Steps are being taken to prepare for the changes. Last night St Albans City and District Council’s Cabinet agreed to increase the size of the Housing Options team by up to three new posts. 

Cllr Brian Ellis, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Inclusion for St Albans City and District Council, said: “The Homelessness Reduction Act will increase the Council’s statutory duty to help people threatened with homelessness when it comes into effect on 1 April. From this date, we will be providing an enhanced service to more people. We want to be as prepared as possible for this change in the law, so the size of the housing options team is being increased.
“We are also taking other measures to help prevent homelessness. These include setting up a new Private Rented Sector Access Scheme to help match private landlords with people seeking housing assistance. We are further providing funding for St Albans District Credit Union’s ‘jam jar accounts’ to help tenants save to pay their rent.”
The Council has been awarded more than £500K by the Government over the next two years to fund these services to help reduce homelessness. This new funding follows a government decision earlier this year to change the way councils receive funding for homelessness prevention services.
More information is available online on the Council’s website about this funding and the extra services. 

The agenda and papers for the meeting are available on the Council’s website.

Councillor contact:
Cllr Brian Ellis.
Portfolio Holder for Housing and Inclusion
Phone: 01582 767621
Email: cllr.b.ellis@stalbans.gov.uk

Contact for the media:
Amanda Wilkinson, 
Senior Communications Officer 
St Albans City and District Council
Tel: 01727 819317 
E-mail: amanda.wilkinson@stalbans.gov.uk 
www.stalbans.gov.uk
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