Thursday, 26 March 2015

Local authorities block offenders’ access to housing

Ex-offenders face significant barriers from local authorities when they are trying to secure accommodation, according to research.

A report published by the Third Sector Research Centre today says councils often pose a barrier to prisoner resettlement, despite the intention of local homelessness strategies.

Local councils can judge ex-offenders ineligible for housing if they are categorised as intentionally homeless for failing to inform their landlord of a sentence or for committing an offence. They can be treated as ineligible due to unacceptable behaviour, or may simply not be judged as priority need.

Housing services in prisons often lack connections with other local authorities and housing providers, the report says. While offenders can be moved to prison anywhere in the country, they are only eligible for housing in their home area.

The report also says cuts to the criminal justice system may reduce housing support in prisons.

Rosie Meek, spokesperson for TSRC, said: ‘There is an urgent need for a more transparent housing assessment system, and greater partnership working between local authorities, housing providers and third sector organisations.

‘One possible solution may be to create an umbrella liaison body that would manage and address homelessness across local authority borders.’

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