Agenda item - Homeless Reduction Act 2017 and Trailblazer Prevention

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Agenda item

Homeless Reduction Act 2017 and Trailblazer Prevention

Presentation by from the Head of Temporary Accommodation & Allocation (copy of slides attached).


51.1   The Committee received a presentation from the Head of Temporary Accommodation & Allocation which stated that the Homeless Reduction Act 2017 was the biggest change in Housing legislation since 1996. The presentation set out the current legislation which provided limited duties to homeless households. The Homeless Reduction Act was summarised and there was an explanation of how new duties extended to a much wider group of people.  The Trailblazer Prevention/Early Intervention Service was explained including details of funding/spending and outcomes. The presentation concluded by setting out opportunities and risks.


51.2   In response to a question from Councillor Druitt, it was confirmed that there was no age limit for NightStop. Councillor Druitt asked for examples, in a high cost housing environment, of reasonable steps taken in preventing homelessness. With regard to outcomes, how were those targets created and what were the reasons they were not met.  It was explained that some targets were set from the previous year. Total prevention was 338. The reason the target had not been reached was it took longer to recruit staff, provide training and make connections with the pathways. The duty to take reasonable steps was part of the new relief duties. The code of guidance had only just been issued and the few examples provided by the guidance were having workshops to enable people to understand what they need in order to access the private rented sector; working with people to look at how they can save money; and helping people to access shared housing. Some councils provided deposit guarantees but this depended on the funding received by the council concerned.


51.3   Councillor Atkinson was concerned to read that a group of London Councils were only receiving £11m to implement the act, when they would actually need £132m. He asked how confident officers were that the council could reach the target of 402 homelessness preventions. He further asked how many homeless people were from the city and how many were from other areas. It was confirmed that officers were confident that targets would be reached by the end of the year. Information on rough sleeping could be sought from Adult Social Care. In terms of London, the feedback had been that they needed a third more staff. Brighton & Hove were fortunate in that it had extra staff through Trailblazer. There were 12 additional staff for three years.


51.4   Councillor Mears commented that the fact that this work was prevention and work far in advance was excellent and would greatly benefit families. She commended the Homeless Reduction Act and the Trailblazer Prevention.


51.5   In response to questions put by Councillor Hill it was explained that currently the council had a duty for people being made homeless within 28 days and many people did not come to the council until it was too late. Officers were working with a range of organisations who would let officers know when people were starting to get into difficulties. Work was being carried out to engage with health and with GPs. There was a whole plethora of other people speaking to the council. Work was carried out with private landlords, officers were putting out publicity and there was working with schools. The deposit guarantee scheme had been considered but it would need to be funded. There were some issues with an insurance scheme and officers could come back to Councillor Hill on that. Landlords were joining in with workshop. 


51.6   Councillor Bell referred to page 267 and asked where the 1.3m was being spent. He asked the Chair if she had authority to open SWEP. It was explained that the Chair did have the power to ask officers to open SWEP but there needed to be the resources available. It would not be possible to open SWEP in non SWEP times. It was further explained that £160K was being spent over two years by Adult Social Care & Children’s Services, which would fund two social workers.  £614k was allocated to funded services. £153k had been spent so far. £415k was for BHCC based Trailblazer posts. £88k had been spent to date. £25k had been spent to enhance the discretionary housing payment provision.


51.7   Councillor Gibson referred to Tenancy Access Planning and asked how the council could help people financially stressed. He was very pleased about the enhanced NightStop for over 25s. He would welcome an update circulated to Committee members (not necessarily a committee report). He referred to risks on page 269 relating to Universal Credit. He had concerns regarding landlords being put off renting.  He was interested in any sense of the likely consequence of landlords pulling out. Officers explained that there were Tenancy Access Planning Workshops, where anyone could drop in. NightStop was 87 nights in accommodation. So far it had worked well. NightStop was hoping to receive host families. Officers were happy to provide performance data updates. With regard to Universal Credit and the potential impact, there were still many good relationships with landlords.   


51.8   Councillor Moonan asked for any further information to be circulated to all committee members. She stressed that the council would be ahead of the game with Trailblazer. She urged the council not only to work to target but to exceed targets. One of the major concerns was what would happen when funding ran out. In two years’ time a decision would have to be made as to how to progress with the scheme.


51.9   The Chair thanked the Head of Temporary Accommodation & Allocation for her presentation and looked forward to receiving further updates.


51.10  RESOLVED:-


(1)            That the presentation be noted.


Supporting documents:


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