(Title Image: truepublica.org.uk)
Tackling root causes
Minister for Housing & Regeneration, Rebecca Evans (Lab, Gower), told AMs that following the recommendation of a Public Policy Centre report, a more cross-government and cross-agency approach was needed to prevent youth homelessness.
As a result, fresh Welsh Government money will go to be divided between different areas. £3.7million will go towards frontline staff in education and youth work so they better understand the risk factors that could see young people become homeless, as well as providing a youth homelessness co-ordinator in every council.
£4.8million will go towards housing innovation and support, while an additional £1million will be made available in financial support for care-leavers. £250,000 will go towards targeted information campaigns.
We should set targets to end youth homelessness
Shadow Housing Minister, David Melding AM (Con, South Wales Central) gave the announcement a broad welcome and was particularly pleased with the innovation fund, which he hopes will support measures like a “Housing First” policy to deal with homelessness.
Focusing on care-leavers, he echoed the findings of multiple committee inquiries which all outlined that the needs of these vulnerable young people are often highly complex (in particular, low educational achievement and those not in education, employment or training aka. NEETs).
He was, however, critical of one aspect:
“There’s no target in your statement for the ending of youth homelessness….in Scotland, they have halved youth homelessness since 2010. In England, there’s a target to halve homelessness by 2022, and to eliminate it by 2027. I think we should set some targets as well.”
– Shadow Housing Minister, David Melding AM
The Minister confirmed that there is indeed a target to eradicate youth homelessness in Wales by 2027.
“Homelessness is a political choice”
Bethan Sayed AM (Plaid, South Wales West) described homelessness as a consequence of several policies, with the number of rough-sleepers being much lower in the past before major policy changes.
“I appreciate the statement that you’ve given us. We’ve waited over a year for this information, and I don’t want to undermine the work of Wales Centre for Public Policy, but they do tell us things that we already know. For example, tackling the root causes, reducing the risk factors, cross-Government working – these are things that should have been put in place before now.”
– Bethan Sayed AM
On the local authority co-ordinators, Bethan said she had received correspondence from a number of councils saying they were “stretched to the limit” and wanted pointers on how they should use the £3.7million in the announcement. Adding to David Melding’s comments, she called for intermediate targets in order to properly judge progress towards the elimination goal.
Jenny Rathbone AM (Lab–Ind, Cardiff Central) praised the work of organisations in Cardiff working with homeless young people, particularly those providing supported housing those with additional problems such as autism or being a young parent as a step towards fully independent living. The Minister said the innovation fund could lead to similar projects being developed around Wales.