Your Councillors

COMMUNITIES, HOUSING & ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE

19th March 2019

 

Draft Homelessness and Rough Sleeper Strategy 2019 - 2024

 

Final Decision-Maker

Council

Lead Head of Service/Lead Director

William Cornall

Director of Regeneration and Place

Lead Officer and Report Author

John Littlemore

Head of Housing & Community Services

Classification

Public

 

Wards affected

All

 

Executive Summary

 

The Council is under a statutory obligation to publish a strategy every five years setting out how it will tackle the issues of homelessness and rough sleeping within their area. The Committee is asked to approve the draft Strategy to enable a period of consultation to take place.

 

 

This report makes the following recommendations to Communities, Housing & Environment Committee

 

That:

 

1.   The draft Homelessness and Rough Sleeper Strategy is approved for consultation with key partners and stakeholders.

 

2.   The final Homelessness and Rough Sleeper Strategy is submitted to an appropriate Communities, Housing and Environment Committee for approval.

 

 

 

Timetable

Meeting

Date

Communities, Housing & Environment Committee

19 March 2019

Communities, Housing & Environment Committee

Summer 2019

Council

Summer 2019



Draft Homelessness and Rough Sleeper Strategy 2019 - 2024

 

 

 

1.††††† INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

 

1.1     The Homelessness Act 2002 (as amended) requires local housing authorities in England to formulate and publish a strategy in response to an assessment of homelessness within their area. The introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act in April 2018 brought about significant change in the duties and powers available to a local housing authority and it is therefore timely for the Council to reconsider its Strategy in the light of the new legislation.

 

1.2     The Homelessness Review was received by the Communities, Housing & Environment Committee on 15th January 2019 and the Strategy has been developed using the information collated in the Review.

 

1.3     Four themes have been developed from the Review in order to address the issues of homelessness within the borough. These are:

 

                i.          Prevent homelessness

               ii.          Provide accommodation

              iii.          Supporting vulnerable people

             iv.          Tackling rough sleeping

 

1.4     The Strategy includes a number of new initiatives that will be implemented, or explored over the period of the Strategy. These includes:

 

                    Using data analytics to inform how and when services are delivered;

                    reviewing how we support families that are found to be intentionally homeless;

                    investigating whether a change to the Councilís Allocation Scheme would help reduce the need for temporary accommodation;

                    developing a sustainable solution to rough sleeping

 

1.5     The Housing Service has been particularly successful in lobbying for grant from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in order to deliver a range of new services to both rough sleepers and families that find themselves homeless or threatened with homelessness. This means that the majority of the ambitions expressed in the Strategy can be delivered without the need for an increased budget funded from the Councilís general fund.

 

 

2.        AVAILABLE OPTIONS

 

2.1     In order to remain compliant with the Councilís statutory duties and to ensure best practice, the Committee is recommended to agree the draft Strategy for consultation.†

 

2.2     A failure to adopt an up to date Homelessness & Rough Sleeper Strategy leaves the Council open to challenge and disadvantages the Council when making bids for government grants to help tackle homelessness, as and when they become available.

 

 

3.        PREFERRED OPTION AND REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATIONS

 

3.1     The recommendation at paragraph 2.1 is preferred, as this provides the best possible direction when tackling the issue of homelessness, which remains a key priority for the Council in its Strategic Plan.

 

 

 

4.       RISK

4.1    The risks associated with this proposal, including the risks if the Council does not act as recommended, have been considered in line with the Councilís Risk Management Framework. We are satisfied that the risks associated are within the Councilís risk appetite and will be managed as per the Policy.

 

 

5.       CONSULTATION RESULTS AND PREVIOUS COMMITTEE FEEDBACK

 

5.1     The legislation requires that key stakeholders, in particular social services, are consulted as part of developing the Strategy. A period of 30 days minimum consultation will take place following approval of the draft Strategy and the results of any amendments will be reported to a subsequent meeting of the Committee.

 

 

 

6.       CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES AND IMPLICATIONS

 

 

Issue

Implications

Sign-off

Impact on Corporate Priorities

Accepting the recommendations will materially improve the Councilís ability to achieve the priorities set out in the Councilís Strategic Plan

Head of Housing & Community Services

Risk Management

Already covered in the risk section Ė if your risk section is more than just a paragraph in this box then you can state Ďrefer to paragraph Ö of the reportí

Head of Housing & Community Services

Financial

The initiatives required to implement the Strategy are funded by a combination of central government grant and MBC revenue and capital funding.  Whilst service pressures have been reflected as far as possible in setting the budget for 2019/20, housing services are demand led and so there remains a risk that funding will not be adequate.

Section 151 Officer

Staffing

We will deliver the recommendations with our current staffing.

Head of Housing & Community Services

Legal

1. The report and attached draft strategy correctly outlines the current obligations under the Homelessness Act 2002 (the 2002 Act) which imposes a duty on the Council to take reasonable steps to prevent homelessness. This duty is further reinforced by the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 which enables the Council to engage with groups who fall outside of any priority status of

the Housing Act 1996

 

2. In formulating or modifying its homelessness strategy the Council is required to have due

regard to the statutory guidance published by Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local

Government (MHCLG). The Council should also have regard to its allocation scheme and its

tenancy strategy.

 

3. The homelessness strategy should set out the Councilís strategy for preventing homelessness in their Borough, securing that sufficient accommodation is and will be available for people in their

Borough who are or may become homeless and securing the satisfactory provision of support for people in their Borough who are or may become homeless or who have been homeless and need support to prevent them becoming homeless again.

4. There is no formal consultation required by the 2002 Act but before adopting or modifying its

homelessness strategy the Council should consult such public authorities, voluntary

organisations or other persons as it considers appropriate. The MHCLG guidance provides that

housing authorities will wish to consult with service users and specialist agencies that provide

support to homeless people in the Borough.

 

Accepting the recommendations will fulfil the Councilís duties under the homelessness legislation.  Failure to accept the recommendations without agreeing suitable alternatives may place the Council in breach of the various homelessness legislation.

Principal Solicitor

Privacy and Data Protection

Accepting the recommendations will increase the volume of data held by the Council.  We will hold that data in line with the relevant policies.

Head of Housing & Community Services

Equalities

It is recognised that the recommendations will have varying impacts on different communities within Maidstone. These will be considered as part of the development of the Strategy via the EqIA process.

Equalities and Corporate Policy Officer

Public Health

We recognise that the recommendations will have a positive impact on population health or that of individuals.

 

Head of Housing & Community Services

Crime and Disorder

The recommendation will have a positive impact on the community.

Head of Housing & Community Services

Procurement

None immediately identified

Head of Housing & Community Services

 

7.        REPORT APPENDICES

 

Appendix 1: Draft Homelessness and Rough Sleeper Strategy 2019 - 2024

 

 

 

8.        BACKGROUND PAPERS

 

Report to the Communities, Housing and Environment Committee January 2019

ďHomelessness and Rough Sleeper ReviewĒ.