‘Outsource council homelessness duties’

Councils should outsource their homelessness duties towards 16 and 17-year-olds to voluntary bodies that will perform them better, a government adviser told the LGA conference.

Housing officers were often ill-equipped to assess the group’s needs and too many were ending up in bed and breakfast accommodation as a result, said Andy Gale, specialist adviser to the Department for Communities and Local Government’s homelessness and housing support directorate.

He said the government backed a YMCA scheme, currently being implemented in several areas, which combined holistic assessment, a wide range of accommodation options, family mediation and awareness-raising about homelessness in schools.

The YMCA’s interim national secretary, Mike Fleming, said young people using the scheme returned home in a quarter of cases, and that it saved councils money in reduced spending on B&Bs, as well as improving outcomes.

He added: “Local authorities are finding it difficult and don’t have the skills in place. We do.”

However, Les Lawrence, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said the government did not understand the resource implications of councils’ duties towards young homeless people.

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