‘Too few’ targets to help the vulnerable

The Homelessness Act 2002 does not set enough targets to ensure
local authorities help vulnerable people, the head of a
homelessness charity warned last week.

Charles Fraser, head of homelessness charity St Mungo’s, said he
was “very worried” that the act’s only target was to reduce local
authorities’ use of bed and breakfast accommodation by March

Fraser was speaking at the National Housing Federation’s conference
on the new act and the government’s new funding programme for
supported housing, Supporting People. He told delegates: “Where
will all the single people with multiple needs end up? They will
end up where they are now, at the bottom of the pile.”

Fraser said that Supporting People fitted in with councils’ duties
under the Homelessness Act because they both applied to the same
client groups.

However, he questioned whether housing professionals were capable
of assessing clients’ needs and working with other departments
under Supporting People.

He asked:”How equipped will a local authority housing team be to
carry out a multi-disciplinary assessment on a client and to work
with health and social services?”

Fraser also criticised the government’s decision to instruct local
authorities and support providers to reduce their Supporting People
budgets over the next year by 2 per cent. He said: “St Mungo’s
needs an increase of 3.5 per cent just to stand still. I don’t see
how it is possible to achieve stability while organisations’
budgets shrink.”

He added that the sector feared funding decisions would become
“highly politicised rather than needs-based”.

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