To receive a report from the Housing Needs and Resource Manager on the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping - Review and Strategy.
Executive Councillor: R Fuller.
Contact: J Collen - (01480) 388220
Cabinet approved the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Review and Strategy 2020 as a consultation document and has given delegated authority to the Chief Operating Officer, in consultation with the Executive Leader to adopt the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Review and Strategy 2020 after reviewing consultation responses.
A report by the Housing Needs and Resources Manager was submitted (a copy of which is appended in the Minute Book) seeking approval to consult widely on the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping – Review and Strategy prior to its formal adoption.
By way of background, the Chairman reported that it was a statutory requirement for all housing authorities to publish a Homelessness Strategy every 5 years. However, owing to recent changes within the national policy context and having reflected on emerging local issues and pressures, a decision had been made to update the Strategy rather than to wait until 2022 when the review was originally due. Having had their attention drawn to the four priority areas and having been encouraged to note that the use of temporary and bed and breakfast accommodation was significantly down when compared to previous years, the Cabinet noted the views of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel (Performance and Growth). Whereupon, it was
(a) that the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Review and Strategy 2020 be approved as a consultation document; and
(b) that delegated authority be given to the Chief Operating Officer, in consultation with the Executive Leader, to adopt the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Review and Strategy 2020 after reviewing consultation responses.
The Panel are to receive the Homelessness Review and Strategy.
Contact: J Collen 01480 388220
With the aid of report by the Housing Needs and Resources Manager (a copy of which has been appended in the Minute Book) the Homelessness Review and Strategy was presented to the Panel. The Executive Councillor for Housing and Economic Development introduced the report and in doing so informed Members that the Homelessness Strategy was not due to be updated until 2022 but as the area had evolved it was thought to be beneficial to update it before then.
The Panel was informed that what had happened in Huntingdonshire was what had happened nationally in that there had been an increase in homelessness since 2010 but the number of homelessness cases had plateaued since 2015/16.
Members were acquainted with the provisions of the Homelessness Reduction Act and were informed that during the first year of the Act 2 out of 3 potential homelessness situations were successfully prevented. Also, over half of the successful preventions allowed the household to remain in their current home. Subsequently there had been a downward trend of households placed in temporary accommodation.
It was clarified that the Council’s strategy was to intervene at an early stage in order to prevent households from becoming homeless but also to ensure that there was a supply of affordable housing solutions for households. The Executive Councillor confirmed that the Council was attempting to move away from using temporary accommodation.
Councillor Davies enquired about the advice Members should give their residents if they are facing homelessness and was informed that if Members are approached then they should advise residents to approach the Council as Officers might be able to prevent them from becoming homeless. The Panel was informed that the prevention work included engagement with landlords because frequent causes of homelessness were their decisions to raise rents, terminate tenancies or sell their properties. It was noted that another aspect of preventing homelessness was the loan or bond scheme to help homeless households pay upfront rental costs for a home in the private rented sector.
Concern was expressed, by Councillor Mrs Smith, that the rough sleeping estimate had failed to capture the true number of rough sleepers in Huntingdonshire. However, the Panel was informed that the evidence gathered for the estimates came from many different agencies, which worked with, or were aware of, rough sleepers in Huntingdonshire. Members were assured that the Council was aware of the individuals who rough sleep, but engagement was challenging as some individuals had complex needs or choose to sleep rough. The Panel was informed that the launch of a street outreach service in December 2019 would allow more intensive work with rough sleepers to address a range of issues such as health and benefits issues as well as attempting to assist them off the streets.
A question was raised by Councillor Mrs Smith regarding sofa surfers and how the Council identifies them. Members were informed that individuals, including sofa surfers, had to self-identify as homeless with the Council or another agency to be registered as such, ... view the full minutes text for item 56