Before Christmas a couple of people talked to me about homelessness in Ipswich. They informed me that people who had been living in Ipswich for three or four years were being told by the borough council that they didn’t have a strong enough connection with Ipswich and were being refused any help. Naturally on hearing this, after Christmas I investigated to find out if it was true and quickly found out that it was. I also found out that because we have good provision for homeless people in Ipswich, other local authorities were sending their homeless people here. As a result of this information I submitted a question to full council based on what is written on the borough website here.
My main question was
“On the borough website in the section on homelessness it talks about having a local connection to Ipswich. Can you define what the certain time they have to live here is and what the certain family connections that are mentioned have to be?”
My supplementary question was
In light of the fact that I know of cases where people have lived in Ipswich for three years and being refused help, is the council tightening up the parameters to make the problem look smaller than it actually is and what can be done if any thing to discourage other councils sending their homeless people to Ipswich due to us having provision for homeless people we should be proud of.
To both questions Councillor Mowles gave concise and informative answers. As a result I emailed him and asked him if he could send me a copy of his answers. He kindly replied with an attachment which I reprint below.
Enquiries into an application made pursuant to the homeless persons legislation will include whether the person is
Eligible for assistance
In priority need
If an applicant is all of the above then the last thing that is considered is whether they have a local connection with the authority that they have applied to.
If they have not got a local connection in Ipswich but do have a local connection with another authority, then they can be referred to the other authority who would then have a duty to house them.
In terms of criteria – 1 is;
‘because the person is, or in the past was, normally resident in it, and the person’s residence is or was of his or her own choice;’
The long-standing local authority agreement suggests that this should be 6 months in an area during the previous 12 months, or not less than 3 years during the previous 5 Year period.
Another of the criteria for local connection is;
‘because of family associations’
There is no statutory definition of the phrase ‘family associations’. The local government agreement suggests that it arises where an applicant has parents, adult children, brothers or sisters currently residing in the area in question and have done so for at least 5 years.
Of course the more questions are answered the more questions could be asked. Councillor Mowles also correctly said that homelessness is rising. A walk through town on any night of the week would tell us that. But how many of them have been sent here from elsewhere? Due to us having the Chapman Centre, Cavendish Lodge, the Night Shelter and Emmeaus other authorities are ‘advising’ their homeless people to come here. I have been informed which authorities are doing it and making vulnerable people even more vulnerable by sending them to a town they don’t know. As I am aware that councillors from some of the authorities doing it read this blog, I’d just like to tell them to get their councils to stop it.