Hundreds of Wigan youngsters needed council help to avoid homelessness

Hundreds of Wigan youngsters approached the council last year for help getting off the streets or to avoid ending up homeless.

Friday, 9th November 2018, 2:43 pm
Updated Monday, 12th November 2018, 1:46 pm
A homeless person

Figures released by the Youth Homelesness Databank has revealed that Wigan Council was approached 230 times last year by young people - aged between 16 and 24 years old - who were either homeless or at imminent risk of becoming so.

Of those who asked the authority for help, less than half (45 per cent) were deemed suitable for assessment by the town hall.

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Any assessments of the young adults were carried out under the Housing Act 1996 to determine if they were owed a statutory housing duty.

Despite the alarming number of people approaching Wigan Council, only 10 per cent (23) were classed as statutorily homeless and eligible for housing duty, whereas another 127 were provided with prevention and relief.

Those receiving prevention and relief were given “advice and assistance” by the authority to help them find a solution outside the statutory homelessness duties.

By law, each local housing authority is required to “consider housing needs” within its area to whom they have a statutory duty to provide assistance.

A breakdown of the figures has revealed that eight of the 23 youngsters who were accepted as statutorily homeless were so because their families were unwilling or unable to provide them with accommodation and seven were homeless for “violence-related reasons”.

Other reasons for homelessness in young people in Wigan included leaving institutions or local authority care, harassment or intimidation and rent arrears.

A council spokesperson said: “However the number of rough sleepers in Wigan borough is defined, it is important to be able to respond effectively by offering timely and bespoke support. In the last year alone, we have prevented 5,000 potential homeless cases.

“Wigan Council invests in a borough wide homelessness service and in local charities that support a strong multi-agency partnership approach.

“We hope this will remove the need for individuals to sleep rough by providing the right support alongside accommodation for individuals to rebuild their lives.

“From December there will be an evening and weekend outreach service for rough sleepers, with The Brick officially appointed to deliver the borough’s homelessness and emergency accommodation services and will be working with us to provide increased services to tackle and prevent rough sleeping.

“In addition to robust homelessness prevention work, the recent opening of the accommodation and support hub in Leigh, and further one to follow in Wigan, alongside a local Housing First scheme and range of supported accommodation provision demonstrates, the local commitment to supporting individuals by ensuring effective provision is in place to address rough sleeping and homelessness in the borough.”