Under current legislation local authorities are required to undertake a housing needs assessment, including people who are homeless, every three years. In reality, for people who are homeless, this is often little more than a 'head count'. In recent years local authorities have also been asked to do provisional assessments of housing need; the results have been of mixed quality throughout the country.
The result is that people maybe classified as 'homeless' by their local authority, but this is where it ends. People do not necessarily get a housing needs assessment or a place on the housing list, or any assessment of the other needs they may have. A proper assessment process needs to be introduced.
The Department of the Environment, in the Housing Policy Framework 'Building Sustainable Communities' (December 2005), flagged the need for a 'new means of assessing need' and noted that this may require legislative change.
The MakeRoom Campaign believe that an assessment process should:
In practice, the assessment process should include:
The Housing Act 2009 gives the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government new powers to reform the Housing Needs Assessment. It is hoped that the Minister will use this opportunity to address these issues.