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The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 27 July, 2015

Report of the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety

Gypsy Traveller Accommodation Assessments

Purpose of the Report

1.    To inform Cabinet of the duty on the Local Authority to undertake a new Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) by 26 February 2016 and to provide an update on the work of the GTAA Steering Group.

Recommendations

1.    That the duty to produce an up to date GTAA be noted.

 

2.    That a further Cabinet report be submitted outlining the outcome of the Assessment prior to its submission to Welsh Government.  

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.    For information

 

2.    To ensure the Council complies with its statutory requirements under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

Background

2.    The assessment of Gypsy and Traveller accommodation needs, and the duty to make provision for sites where the assessment identifies need, became statutory requirements under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

 

3.    The definition of ‘Gypsies and Travellers’ for the purposes of this accommodation assessment process is contained within section 108 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. Gypsies and Travellers means:

“(a) Persons of a nomadic habit of life, whatever their race or origin, including:

- persons who, on grounds only of their own or their family’s or dependant’s educational or health needs or old age, have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently, and

- members of an organized group of travelling show people or circus people (whether or not travelling together as such); and

- all other persons with a cultural tradition of nomadism or of living in a mobile home.”

4.    On 25 February 2015 the Welsh Government issued new guidance under Section 106 of the 2014 Act to Local Authorities alongside a commencement of duty to undertake new Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessments (GTAAs).

 

5.    All Local Authorities in Wales have until 26 February 2016 to complete and submit their new GTAA to the Welsh Ministers for scrutiny.

Relevant Issues and Options

6.    In compliance with the Guidance, a Steering Group was convened, made up of members from the Council and partner organisations including the NHS, Police and Education.

 

7.    Given the specialist nature of the Assessment and the requirement to undertake a robust consultation exercise, the Steering Group resolved to outsource the assessment to an organisation which already has links to the gypsy and traveller communities.  

 

8.    The Council's Housing Strategy Team is currently preparing the tender documents, under the supervision and direction of the Procurement Team and aim to invite quotations for the work by the end of July 2015.

 

9.    This will allow a consultant to be employed by 1 September 2015, giving 3 months to produce the GTAA by 1 December 2015. The GTAA, once completed, will then be submitted to Cabinet for adoption before the deadline set by Welsh Government.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

10.    The production of a new GTAA will be undertaken by external consultants which will incur a cost and this will be met from the Housing General Fund budget.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

11.    By undertaking an up to date and robust Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment, it will ensure that the Council is better able to meet the needs and aspirations of all of its residents and to contribute to community sustainability.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

12.    The assessment of gypsy and traveller accommodation needs, and the duty to make provision for sites where the assessment identifies need, became statutory requirements under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

Crime and Disorder Implications

13.    An understanding of gypsy and traveller accommodation issues is essential to make properly planned provision and avoid the problems associated with ad hoc or unauthorised provision. A comprehensive accommodation assessment (required under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014) and strategy to meet the need which is identified will greatly strengthen the ability of Local Authorities to respond swiftly and firmly to inappropriate unauthorised developments and encampments and help to avoid future unauthorised camping and development.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

14.    The development of the GTAA is supportive of the Council's Equal Opportunities ethos as it identifies the mechanisms needed to increase access to quality homes for many people throughout the County.

 

15.    The Council's Local Housing Strategy 2015-20 includes an aim which focuses on promoting equality of access to housing and housing services:

Aim 4: To promote equality of access to housing and housing services. This aim includes a number of objectives focused on equality issues:

- Understand and recognise the needs of people falling within the eight strands of equality and who use the Welsh language.

- Eliminating discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

- Respond to the diverse housing needs of people in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Corporate/Service Objectives


16.    The development of a new GTAA is consistent with the Housing Outcomes identified in the Corporate Plan 2013-17:

Housing - Vale of Glamorgan residents have access to affordable, good quality suitable housing and housing advice and support.

17.    The development of a new GTAA is consistent with the Service Outcome of the Housing and Building Services Service Plan 2014/18:

- Everyone has a home that they can afford that meets their needs

Policy Framework and Budget

18.    This report is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

19.    As this is a Vale wide issue no specific Ward Member consultation has been undertaken.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

20.    Housing and Public Protection

Background Papers

Undertaking Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessments Guidance, Questionnaire and Interview Log, Welsh Government, May 2015

Contact Officer

Elisa Faulkner, Affordable Enabling Officer, Housing Strategy and Supporting People

Officers Consulted

Pam Toms, Housing Solutions and Supporting People Team Leader, Housing

Committee Reports, Legal Services

Lori Bigglestone, Accountant, Financial Services

Tim Greaves, Equality Coordinator, Equalities Team

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter, Director of Visible Services and Housing

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