Welsh Government announces up to £50m to "end homelessness"

The funding announced will go towards housing and preventing homelessness Credit: PA

The Welsh Government has announced plans to keep people off the streets and in their homes following the lockdown in Wales.

During the coronavirus pandemic, homeless people in Wales were housed in temporary accommodation. Since then, charities, local authorities and the Welsh Government have been working to find them more permanent homes.

The Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James has confirmed up to £50m to support projects across Wales, which help provide those in need with safe and secure homes.

In March, the Welsh Government announced £10m funding would go towards tackling homelessness. Today, an additional £40m has been made available for local authorities.

Julie James said the funding will help towards achieving the Welsh Government's "goal of ending homelessness in Wales".

During lockdown people sleeping on the streets were housed in temporary accommodation

At the start of lockdown, the Welsh Government, charities and local authorities helped find accommodation where homeless people could self-isolate if necessary and could follow public health advice on basic hygiene, hand washing and social distancing.

Last month, a report by the Auditor General for Wales accused the public sector of "wasting" up to £210m reacting to rough sleeping, rather than preventing it. Some of the money was used by councils to secure empty student accommodation, hotel rooms and B&Bs for use by rough sleepers.

Auditor General Adrian Crompton said: "Public bodies must not just focus on giving people a roof over their head, it needs all partners to work together to address the root causes of homelessness."

Julie James said local authorities are now joining up with services including substance misuse, mental health, primary care and community safety to "reflect the fact that homelessness isn't just a housing issue... and it's about having access to those services where and when people need them."

This is about bold, long-lasting solutions.

Julie James MS, Housing and Local Government Minister

The Welsh Government said the next stage is to make sure everyone who was housed in emergency accommodation during the coronavirus pandemic has "a clear route to permanent housing" and it plans to provide "high quality accommodation for those who are threatened with homelessness in the future."

Support has been announced to help prevent rough sleeping Credit: ITV Wales

A number of people who are struggling with money because of the coronavirus pandemic will also be given support to ensure they can remain in their private rented homes and avoiding eviction due to rent arrears. Last week a temporary increase in the notice period for eviction was announced, providing greater protection from homelessness for tenants in private rented and housing association accommodation.

In addition, the Welsh Government said the new Tenant Saver Loan Scheme will provide "an affordable way" to cover rent arrears, or future months' rent, reducing the risk of eviction and homelessness. These loans will be paid directly to landlords and are available for tenants who were not in significant rent arrears prior to March 1st this year.

Support is also being offered to those in private rented housing Credit: PA

The Housing Minister said: "The coronavirus has shone a light on housing in a way that few of us have seen before and reminded us all of the fundamental importance of good-quality affordable housing, a safe and secure home and strong and cohesive communities where people want to live and work.

"The best way we can tackle homelessness is by preventing it in the first place."

Speaking at a Welsh Government press conference, Julie James MS said: "During the pandemic, eviction proceedings in courts have been halted and we have increased the notice period for evictions from three months to six.

"We have provided an additional £1.4m to boost services that help people to manage their problem debt and boost their income.

"It is hard to put numbers on this but we believe that £8 million is sufficient. I am confident that we will be able to make sure people are contacted and get the services that they need."

I have been clear that I do not wish to see anyone forced to return to the streets. We have a unique opportunity to change the services and change lives for the better - and make homelessness rare, brief and unrepeated.

Julie James MS, Housing and Local Government Minister