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Tackling rough-sleeping in Wales

15 February 2018

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Dr Peter Mackie giving evidence before the National Assembly for Wales' Inquiry into rough-sleeping

Academic addresses the National Assembly for Wales’ Inquiry into rough-sleeping in Wales.

Dr Peter Mackie, senior lecturer and chair of the WISERD Housing Research Network, gave evidence before the National Assembly for Wales’ Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee on Thursday 8 February 2018.

This was the first evidence session of the Assembly’s inquiry into rough-sleeping, which seeks to better understand and examine the scale, causes and responses to the growing problem across Wales. The Assembly’s approach, enshrined in the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, for tackling homelessness has been based on early intervention and prevention.

During his evidence session, Dr Mackie stressed that while the Housing Act 2014 had had a positive impact on “prevention and alleviation with the broader homeless population”, it was not “overly effective” in helping rough-sleepers, which he identifies as possibly the most vulnerable group of homeless people. Dr Mackie argued that the law defined in the Act was predicated on providing help to those who “seek assistance” but that rough-sleepers aren’t necessarily seeking out assistance meaning they were not able to access the wider support system. For Dr Mackie, this approach is a passive intervention when what is required is a more “assertive” approach to get people off the streets and not merely to serve, and sustain them, on the streets.

Dr Mackie also spoke about the use and quality of temporary accommodation. He said that poor quality temporary accommodation leads many people to return to the streets and that the overly long wait for more settled and permanent accommodation was failing rough-sleepers and contributing to them falling out of the system. Finally, he proposed the introduction of a new legal duty to support homeless people, in order to ensure the greatest chance of keeping accommodation.

Read a transcript of the wide-ranging evidence session, where Dr Mackie was joined by Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, director of the Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Equalities Research at Heriot-Watt University. Alternatively, you can watch a recording on the website.

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