Posted: Wed 31st Jan 2024

Neath Port Talbot Council Approves Ambitious Plan to Tackle Rising Homelessness Levels

news.wales / newyddion.cymru

Neath Port Talbot Council have approved an “ambitious” new strategic homeless plan  in the wake of an unprecedented increase in the levels of homelessness across the borough.
Demand for housing in the area is currently outstripping supply, with a report revealing that there had been a 108% increase in households accessing temporary accommodation since 2019.
The report warned if figures continue to rise at the current rate, there would  be a 244% increase over the next five years, resulting in 2,233 households requiring temporary accommodation each year in Neath Port Talbot, at a cost of £4.4 million a year by 2027-28.
The report read: “Over the last few years, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of people presenting as homeless and a sharp decrease in access to affordable housing. The links between access to sustainable affordable housing and homelessness mean that both issues need to be tackled together if we are to successfully prevent homelessness and create cohesive communities.”
The introduction of the new three-year plan comes after one homeless person in Neath   described the town as “crumbling under the weight of homelessness and drug use,” in 2023, with one of the main reasons being the inability for people to find and maintain stable housing in the area.
Other potential reasons for the sharp increase were discussed, with a number of factors such as the current the cost-of-living crisis, and pressures within the social care sector.
Concerns were also raised over legislative changes which had been introduced over the past five  years, such as the Renting Homes Act and the Housing Wales Act.
While the purpose of this was said to be to improve standards of rented accommodation, the report said that some landlords had left the rental market as a result, meaning more than 50 landlords had left Neath Port Talbot since its introduction, with 24% of all homelessness in the area said to be related to this loss of accommodation.
The plans will now focus on a number of priorities, which will include preventing homelessness with the council’s rapid re-housing programme, establishing a new model of short-term triages, as well as implementing a more strategic approach with third sector partners.
They will also look to set up a dedicated team of homeless prevention officers, review housing support services and social housing landlords, along with increasing the numbers of affordable houses in the borough through both new built properties and bringing empty homes back in to use.
Reducing the council’s reliance on B&Bs as emergency accommodation was also said to be a target within the plans, with the hope of making the service more cost efficient after the council spent £2.24 million on B&Bs in the 2022-23 financial year alone.
Officers said that the current situation was leading to “unmanageable” numbers of people requiring temporary accommodation, with projections showing if nothing changes, by the end of the 2023-24 financial year there could be around 227 households in temporary accommodation in the borough.
Cllr Alun Llewellyn said: “This is an ambitious proposal but the strategy and investment is essential to support our staff teams that work tirelessly to support people facing housing need and homelessness – to reduce the unacceptable costs and unsuitability of temporary housing, to help those on the ever lengthening waiting lists for housing, and to properly resource the work of our partners.”
Members  at a social services, housing and community safety meeting on January 25, voted unanimously to approve the plans for the new Housing and Homelessness Strategic Plan for Neath Port Talbot. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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