CHANGES will be made to homelessness policy following the introduction of a national anti-homelessness law.

Slough Borough Council (SBC) is to alter its policy in light of the recently introduced Homelessness Reduction Act, that came into force on Tuesday.

Under the law, local authorities must assess all eligible applicants who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, identify their needs, and provide them with a personalised housing plan. Previously, people were only eligible for this if they were likely to become homeless within the next 28 days, or were already homeless. Under the HRA, the timeline has been extended to 56 days, forcing councils to intervene earlier.

In the past, many councils would only intervene in the affairs of soon-to-become homeless individuals when they had actually been evicted from their former homes. However, the HRA states that is ‘unlikely’ to be considered reasonable from now on, and councils must attempt to provide alternative accommodation before the landlord begins formal eviction proceedings.

A spokeswoman for SBC said: “The council is currently writing a new homeless strategy, taking into account the requirements of the Homelessness Reduction Act.”

However, some homelessness organisations raised scepticism over how much impact the new law would have.

Deborah Garvie, the policy manager for Shelter, wrote that: “We’ve warned from the outset that the law alone can’t reduce homelessness, which occurs because of a lack of suitable homes in the areas where they are most needed.

“So when homelessness increases, it’s an indicator that housing policy is failing.”