Welsh Local Elections are back for 2022.
On May 5, everyone aged 16 and over – including foreign nationals – will be able to vote for local councillors to represent them in county and community councils.
Local governments in Wales are responsible for a huge range of public services, including schools, social services, transport and the environment, and of course housing.
Each of the 22 local authorities in Wales have a legal duty to provide services to support people who experience or are at risk of homelessness, so incoming councillors will be responsible for developing strategies to meet this duty.
The Wallich is Wales’ biggest third sector provider of housing and homelessness support services, many of which are commissioned by local authorities.
We look forward to welcoming newly elected and returning members.
We believe that an end to homelessness in Wales is possible if we all work together, and we stand ready to work with each local administration in order to make this a reality.
We also can’t wait to share our ideas based on decades of experience of what works.
New council administrations must develop their proposals based on the Welsh Government’s framework as set out in the Ending Homelessness Action Plan.
This means a focus on prevention and effective partnership working in order to make homelessness ‘rare, brief, and non-repeated’.
The Homelessness Action Group conducted a detailed review of homelessness policy and strategy in 2019-20 and concluded that an approach built around rapid rehousing is the best way to ensure people are effectively supported out of homelessness into sustainable, independent living.
Homelessness and housing support services must be more accountable to those who use them.
They should be co-produced alongside people with lived experience, who are experts in the types of support that truly makes a difference to end homelessness.
The majority of people who need homelessness services have experienced trauma in their lives.
It is essential that services are truly Psychologically Informed Environments (PIEs), built around an understanding of the interconnected nature of trauma with homelessness, poor mental health, substance misuse, and experience of the criminal justice system.
Authorities and Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) need to build lots of high-quality, affordable social homes, including many one-bedroom properties to meet the high demand.
The proliferation of luxury apartments and high-end student accommodation does not meet the needs of people on lower incomes.
There must be no more dodgy deals over section 106 (s106) contributions.
Builders must deliver affordable homes or pay the full monies owed to councils.
Commissioners need to provide appropriate levels of funding to ensure safe staffing levels.
It must allow time for staff reflective practice to process vicarious trauma and reduce the risks of burnout and compassion fatigue.
The Housing Support Grant (HSG) guidance sets out the expectation that services will be psychologically informed, but this is only possible if staff are given time to develop these elements.
It is not possible if they are spending all their time firefighting.
We are calling for an end to Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) and the enforcement approach to rough sleeping.
Councils and police forces use these measures far too often, which can undermine efforts to support people living street-based lifestyles.
It is our opinion that PSPOs do not help people out homelessness. Nobody should be criminalised for their experience of poverty or trauma.
Fines and criminal records do not address the root causes of homelessness, and damage trust and relationships with support providers.
There must be an end to gatekeeping and needless barriers to accessing support.
There must be no wrong door to ask for help, so all services need to better work together to ensure people are supported wherever and however they present themselves.
People must be given the time they need to engage with support when they feel ready. The offer of help does not expire. There are no hard-to-reach people.
It is the responsibility of services to be truly accessible to all.
Welsh Government are considering ending tests such as priority need, intentionality and local connection.
We support this approach and encourage local authorities to be prepared to help everyone no matter their circumstances.