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‘Technically homeless’

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LH270516_Page_05_Image_0005SHE MAY not be the only one in Llanelli or Carmarthenshire who describes themselves this way.

The truth is that nobody really knows how many people are homeless in the county. While there are figures for people in temporary accommodation and figures for those waiting for housing. the figures for ‘homelessness’ are less well-defined.

A person can be homeless while sofa-surfing or staying with mates from night to night with no permanent address of their own.

Sitting in the graveyard of Llanelli Parish church Daisy begins by telling us how she became homeless. She admits that some of it was of her own doing but also says that the issues with the authorities played a part in her current plight: “I was doing well for myself, keeping out of trouble for about sixteen years.

“A neighbour moved in and I couldn’t cope with it. He was getting aggressive and banging doors in the early hours of the morning. He wasn’t dealt with by anyone.

“I saved up some money to move but it wasn’t enough. I started shop lifting. I went through some bad stuff and I made a complaint to the police.”

Daisy showed us some of the documents relating to her complaint. She said she only wanted to get away from a bad neighbour but she was told to go back to the property but was eventually evicted. Daisy has made a complaint to the group, Civil Liberties regarding her arrest.

She told us: “I came back to this area because I had nowhere else to go. I thought I might be able to see my children. I have lost everything. All my possessions including my ID have gone. I have asked for them back and I have asked my probation officer to help me get them back.”

As we were speaking to Daisy another man passed by and said hello to Daisy. I asked her if he was also homeless. She confirmed that he was sleeping rough but would not speak to us. She said some of the causes of homelessness include high rents and a lack of opportunities for getting out of a rut.

Speaking about her own situation Daisy told us: “My prospects are really bad. I have temporary accommodation now and they gave me some tins of food from the food bank, but I don’t have any saucepans.

“There are quite a few homeless people in Llanelli. You see them with their rucksacks around town. There is a place down Station Road that gives them food.

“I am not entitled to social housing because I am in arrears. It was under £500 but I still got evicted. They never gave me a form with an option to pay those arrears. They told me they were not going through with an eviction.

“My rent jumped from £435 to £900. I have asked for the paper work to look at. I could not afford that. I have been sitting in town and I do get hassled. I would get charged with a public order offence.

“I have to try and find private housing. I can claim £317 per month. I can’t find anywhere affordable to live for £317 per month. The lowest priced property I have seen is £425 per month. I haven’t got any money now.

Basically I have nothing. Some of it was of my own doing. I suffered because they put me in a place next to a terrible neighbour. Nobody wanted to listen. I had an abusive husband. The last thing I needed was an abusive neighbour.”

The Herald contacted The Big Issue and Shelter Cymru.

Jenny Bibbings is the campaigns manager for Shelter Cymru. We asked Jenny if she had any accurate figures for the number of homeless people in Wales and specifically in Carmarthenshire.

“I am not entirely sure of the figures in Carmarthenshire. There is a mobile worker who covers the Carmarthenshire area. The law on homelessness changed in April last year. All the stats have changed as well. It now considers households found homeless, roofless, sofa surfing and suffering from over crowding.”

We asked Jenny what the current position is on the definition of homelessness.

“It used to be that you had to be threatened with homelessness within 28 days, now that has doubled to 56 days. In England, the Department for Communities and Local Government is currently considering adopting the Welsh system.

Before the law changed in Wales, homelessness prevention was not within the law. There were no rights attached to it. It is now statutory for councils to do what they reasonably can to prevent a person becoming homeless through prevention work. In the past if you didn’t fit into the priority need criteria you didn’t get the help, which meant that single homeless people were most at risk of falling through the safety net.

Speaking about what support is available to people like Daisy she said: “Everybody should be getting a decent level of assistance for somewhere to live. The numbers are going up. There is monitoring but it isn’t brilliant. You have seen more than that by walking around Llanelli.

“We have seen a lot of welfare reforms making it more difficult for people to stay housed. Benefits don’t cover minimum rent and bedroom tax. A lot of homelessness is caused by simple life events.

“When you lose your home it is difficult to get it back. There is nowhere near enough social housing to go around. Private sector accommodation is all that is available. Landlords don’t want to let to people on benefits. We see people from all walks of life.

“The homeless figure is around 16,000 people across Wales. The cost of housing is a major factor. Rent arrears is the biggest issue because we have the most expensive housing in Europe. Increases in evictions from social housing coupled with court costs have doubled debt for people.”

Jenny Bibbings singled out Carmarthenshire County Council as having a very good team dealing with homelessness but she said that she was worried about the impending cuts to services within the authority, which she said would impact on the most vulnerable.”

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Llanelli: Stop notice issued for school planning application

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A CONTROVERSIAL planning application for a new 480-spaced school in Llanelli has been issued a stop notice by the Welsh Government.
Carmarthenshire County Council is proposing to build a new £9.1m school on Llanerch Fields in Llanelli and were looking to determine the planning application in the coming weeks. Welsh Government will now decide whether to call in the application or not.
The new school would accommodate 420 primary and 60 nursery pupils, set over two floors with larger classrooms with integrated IT facilities, a multi-purpose hall and specialist provision for pupils with additional learning needs.
Over recent years there has been much debate in the area on the choice of site for the new school with campaigners arguing that they support a new school, but object against Llanerch fields being built upon. Last year an attempt to get the land designated as a village green was turned down.
In 2017, Ysgol Dewi Sant as the first Welsh medium primary school to be provided by a local authority celebrated its 70th birthday.
Councillor Rob James, local member for Lliedi, stated “From day one I have raised concerns that the Council’s site choice and planning process opened the Council up to the possibility of the Welsh Government calling in the planning application. It is clear that these concerns were not misplaced and there is now a really chance that it will be. 

“As a local Councillor, a school governor and a parent, I am passionate about the need for a new school for the pupils of Ysgol Dewi Sant and it is important that local pupils get the benefits of a 21st century school.
“I will now be working with Council Officers to ensure that contingency plans are prepared in case the Welsh Government state that the planning application does not comply with national planning policy.
“I will also work with parents, pupils, residents and interested parties are able to engage with the Welsh Government during this process.”

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Third annual Burry Port Raft Race is eagerly awaited

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THE THIRD ANNUAL BURRY PORT RAFT RACE, organised by Burry Port couple, Craig and Isabel Goodman, will be held on Saturday (July 27).

The event which is held in Burry Port Harbour, raises much needed funds for both Burry Port RNLI and a children’s football academy and primary school the couple support in The Gambia.

The day launches at 12pm with stands, food stalls and children’s inflatable games and rides and these will be available until 5pm. You’ll also have a chance to meet the crews, who’ll be busy putting the final touches to their rafts.

Rafts launch at 3pm, followed by a presentation ceremony, including prizes for first raft over the line, first raft to sink and best dressed raft.

Craig said: ” A huge thank you goes to all our sponsors, including overall sponsor Dawsons, along with continued sponsorship from Celtic Couriers, Parker Plant Hire, Burns Pet Nutrition, Burry Port Co-Op, Llanelli Star, LBS Builders Merchants, Burry Port Marina, First Choice Flooring and Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council.

For any further information about the event, please contact 07825 842981.

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Compensation offered after FSCS declares Llanelli firm in default

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CONSUMERS could get back money they have lost as a result of their dealings with a failed regulated firm in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire. The firm is Hayden Williams Independent Financial Services Limited formerly Assura Protect, Room 1, 7 Meadows Bridge, Parc Menter, Cross Hands, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales SA14 6RA.

The firm was declared in default in June 2019 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

FSCS is the UK’s statutory compensation scheme that protects customers of authorised financial services firms that carry out certain regulated activities. A declaration of default means FSCS is satisfied a firm is unable to pay claims for compensation made against it. This paves the way for customers of that firm to make a claim for compensation with FSCS.

Alex Kuczynski, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at FSCS, said: “FSCS steps in to protect consumers around the UK when authorised financial services firms go bust. This vital service, which is free to consumers, protects deposits, insurance, investments, home finance and debt management. We want anyone who believes they may be owed money as a result of their dealings with this firm to get in touch, as we may be able to help you.”

Since it began in 2001, FSCS has helped more than 4.5m people, paying out more than £26bn in compensation.

If you wish to make a claim with FSCS against Hayden Williams Independent Financial Services Limited, you may be able to do so using FSCS’s online claims service at https://claims.fscs.org.uk Or you can contact its Customer Services Team on 0800 678 1100 or 020 7741 4100

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