Advice and assistance for vulnerable groups
We are required to provide advice and information to meet the needs of the following vulnerable groups within the Borough who might be homeless or threatened with homelessness:
- People released from prison or youth detention centres
- Care leavers
- Former members of the regular armed forces
- Victims of domestic abuse
- People leaving hospital
- People suffering from a mental illness or learning disability
The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 came into force on 3 April 2018. The Act means that we have to do more to assist you if you become homeless or are threatened with homeless at an earlier stage. The Act has 2 new duties: the Prevention Duty and the Relief Duty.
The Prevention Duty
In the Prevention Duty we have to support you if you are threatened with homelessness within 56 days. This means if you are served a valid Section 21 you will be provided with support to try and prevent you from becoming homeless and losing your accommodation.
We will carry out an assessment of your needs and will create with you a personalised housing plan which will include steps you need to take and steps we need to take to stop you from becoming homeless.
The Relief Duty
If you become homeless, you will be owed the relief duty. We have to provide you with support to try and find suitable accommodation for up to 56 days. This is regardless of whether you are intentionally homeless or if you are not in priority need.
We will carry out an assessment of you needs and will create with you a personalised housing plan which will include steps you need to take and steps we need to take to relieve your homelessness.
If you do not have a local connection to Wokingham and you have become homeless, we will make a local connection referral to the Borough where you do have a local connection to, as long as it is safe and appropriate to do so.
In order to have a local connection to the borough you must:
- Normally reside within the Borough and have done so for 6 of the last 12 months or 3 of the last 5 years
- Have employment in the Borough
- Have close family members resident in the Borough who have been resident for 5 years
If you are owed the Relief Duty and you are in priority need we will provide you with temporary accommodation. There is a weekly rent charge for this and you may be able to meet some of this cost through Housing Benefit.
You may be considered to be in priority need if:
- You have dependent children
- You are pregnant
- You are a care leaver aged 18 to 21
- You are aged 16 or 17 years old ( in most cases Children’s Services must make sure you have a safe place to live)
- You are an older person
- You are vulnerable as a result of a physical or learning disability or mental health issues
- You were in the armed forces
- You are vulnerable as a result of having served a custodial sentence or having been in custody
We will try to secure temporary accommodation for you in the Wokingham Borough, but this is not always possible. If you refuse a suitable offer of accommodation, we do not have to make you another offer of accommodation.
Final homelessness decision
When the Relief Duty ends, we need to issue you with a final homelessness decision. If you are found to be homeless unintentionally and are in priority need, we will owe you the main housing duty and will continue to provide you with temporary accommodation until you find some where to live or we find you somewhere to live.
If you are found to be intentionally homeless or not in priority need, we will owe you no further duties once the Relief Duty has ended. We are still able to offer you advice on finding your own accommodation.