In order to deliver on this belief, the next Welsh Government must remove the unreasonable hurdles to accessing homelessness support such as the ‘priority need’ criteria, the need for a documented local connection, a judgement of ‘intentionality’, and the in particular the immigration condition that grants leave to remain but with ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF).
We note the recent Government review of priority need, and reiterate our belief that the evidence from Scotland and elsewhere is clear.
By abolishing the priority need tests, fewer individuals will find themselves falling through the gaps of current service provision.
The current requirement for local authorities to ascertain whether or not an individual seeking homelessness relief has a local connection, and whether they ‘intentionally’ became homeless, should also be scrapped.
There are often very good reasons why someone might purposefully leave a home and move to a new area; for example, the individual may be escaping chaotic family or friendships, or leaving unsafe living conditions.
Whilst we recognise that the responsibility for immigration laws are not currently devolved to the Welsh Government, we believe that the actions taken during the coronavirus pandemic, to house every individual on public health grounds regardless of NRPF status, prove that Wales can take positive steps to support those who have No Recourse to Public Funds when they find themselves facing hardships such as homelessness.
Indeed, we believe that homelessness is itself a public health challenge, which is why we believe that the successful cross-departmental public health approach to homelessness and rough sleeping in particular, must continue after the pandemic.
By reconsidering these policies, the Welsh Government will be signalling that everybody who needs help is their priority.