Prescott calls on housing associations to work more closely with councils

Housing associations must “co-operate” more closely with
councils to provide homes for the homeless, deputy prime minister
John Prescott has urged.

Speaking at the National Housing Federation annual conference
last week, Prescott said he wanted housing associations to play
their part in providing homeless people with a “permanent home of
their own”.

The move has been welcomed by homelessness charities, which said
councils were increasingly reliant on housing associations to
provide suitable lettings as they were becoming the dominant social
landlords.

Shelter policy manager Jim Bennett said: “Some housing
associations had exclusion policies for some groups and
difficulties sometimes arose with nomination agreements between the
council and associations.”

Homeless Link director of policy and regions Tara Bradley said:
“What we would stress is that closer partnerships between councils
and housing associations must include a range of housing options
with support for single homeless people with varying needs in
environments that do not ghettoise or exclude them.”

Acting head of the London Housing Federation Laura Hare said
there were tensions between councils and housing associations
because of conflicting government priorities.

“Councils need to get homeless people out of temporary
accommodation and housing associations need to sustain mixed
communities. The two need to communicate better to ensure both
priorities are met.”

Prescott also told delegates the government had “reduced from
over 6,000 to virtually zero” the number of children in bed and
breakfast accommodation for longer than six weeks since it became
law in April 2004.

The latest government statutory homeless second quarter figures
for England and Wales show that about 60 of the 1,050 households
with dependent children or expectant mothers had been resident in
B&B accommodation for more than six weeks. However, this had
increased by 30 since March 2004.

Meanwhile, Housing Corporation chief executive John Rouse warned
housing associations at the conference to share the burden of
refugee housing associations by providing “move-on” accommodation
for refugees.

He told delegates that refugee provision, which is a government
priority, will be tracked using its regulatory statutory return
(RSL).

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