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LET’S TALK Tayside Fife and Central Housing Options Hub, 15th June 2012

About the event

About Housing Options

Tayside Fife and Central Housing Options Hub facilitated an event on the 15th June 2012. Funded by the Scottish Government, the focus of the event was to consider the impact of UK wide welfare reforms. The event was chaired by Councillor Brian Goodall, Chair of the Scottish Government /CoSLA 2012 steering group. Delegates represented a range of stakeholder groups (local, regional and national) from across Scotland. Bringing organisations together in this way sets a foundation for greater and more regular collaborations in hub processes.

In June 2010, the Scottish Government announced funding of £500,000 being made available to develop Housing Options approaches. Regional Hubs were set up to deliver the activities (through approved work plans) associated with this funding. The overarching principle behind the hubs was to encourage organisations towards working together i.e. sharing best practice, joint training and commissioning joint research. This was largely seen within the context of homelessness prevention. As well as the Tayside, Fife and Central Hub, there are four other regional Hubs (Ayrshire and South West; Edinburgh, Lothians and Borders; North and Islands; West)

The event in brief Over 100 delegates 35 organisations (local and national) represented 7 presentations 14 World Cafe discussion stalls Interactive E-Vote Talking points Delegates recognised the importance of • Intervention as early as possible • Networking events • Partnership working • Connections between the HUBS • Recognising the work done today • Communications between organisations and to customers • Encouraging/facilitating staff exchanges • Being pro-active in forging links with other agencies and targeting resources to these activities • Collaboration in service deliveries with other housing providers • Using the Hub to share good practice, good working models, training opportunities, information WORKING TOGETHER TO DEAL WITH WELFARE REFORMS AND DELIVER HOUSING OPTIONS

Housing Options approaches are based on the premise of looking at an individual’s options and choices in the widest sense. The provision of housing advice is integral to Housing Options and it can cover general circumstances as well as being housing related e.g. debt advice, mediation and mental health issues. Housing Options are focussed on early intervention and exploring all possible tenure options in council housing, housing associations and the private rented sector. Housing Options and the statutory assessment route work side by side. Housing Options is complementary to the statutory homelessness assessment route. Local authority homelessness services will work together with other services such as employability, mental health, money advice and family mediation services to avert a housing crisis. As such Housing Options practices are strongly embedded in embracing culture change – in organisations and for customers who have traditionally seen LA housing as their only choice.

The E-vote Presentations Presentations were made by

Delegates shared concerns about

The Scottish Government Perth and Kinross Council Dundee City Council Fife Council Angus Council Argyll and Bute Council Clackmannanshire Council Talking points

• Financial implications (for organisations and individuals) • The financial situation creating a wider range of client groups • How to gauge which tenants might be at risk – being about to quantify and qualify • Effects of debt – risks and management • The logistics for delivering Housing Options in diverse and expansive geographical contexts

Delegates recognised the importance of


• Keeping on top of the changes – streamlining processes/system improvements • Collective responsibilities • Recognising the achievements of the Hub and local practice • Actions undertaken by local organisations • Delivering the services and developing new ones • Working with people to alleviate the impact for them ‘income maximisation’ • Putting people at the centre of services • Local approaches thinking about future developments • Talking/trouble shooting with other departments/ colleagues - housing benefits • Performance management/quality assurance frameworks • Excellence/good practice projects • Business planning – strategic and operational • Raising awareness within organisations and wider • Housing Options Hubs able to gain access to SG funding for welfare reform activities - used for events, publicity, awareness raising, training, COSLA and CIoH also received funding

Thinking ahead Delegates were identifying future developments • New IT System with Housing Options a central function • Digital Inclusion • Agreed National Outcomes for Housing Options and measuring these • Early Intervention & Mediation • Use of Credit Unions • Improve information sharing - customer information / awareness • Improve access to appointments • Enable inter-agency learning • Fast Track Money / Benefits Advice • Increased levels of Early Intervention Housing Support • Flat share Projects • Housing Options assisting with better access to advice / support • Access to Private Sector • Prevention • Delivering affordable Housing • Integrated and partnership approach • Staff training and awareness raising

Tayside Fife and Central Hub, 15th June 2012


The E-vote Round Table Talking points Delegates recognised the importance of

applications, Housing Support referrals and people in crisis (risk of homelessness) • Service/resource sustainability coping with higher demands

• Alleviating the impact • Delivering the right customer experience – being Individuals less process driven • coping with reduction in finances/higher costs of • Getting communications right – within and living ‘in work poverty’ between organisations • stresses placed on relationships • Being pro-active in information giving, speaking • taking responsibility for paying their rent risk of directly with tenants – to reduce lack of awareness losing their home • ‘Developing community resilience’ AND • Giving a clear, simple and consistent message to individuals and organisations • Lack of information from UK government • Smarter working – strong leadership, streamline • Low public awareness, of what is coming, people services to free staff time, breakdown work silos thinking ‘it won’t affect me’ • Staff training in and learning about the detail of the reforms, involve operational staff The impacts of reforms are already being felt • Joint working/organisational collaborations to - Full to partial benefit cuts; provide services - Increasing debt; • Sharing resources to bring about practical benefits - Housing affordability (PRS not an option for some); (consistent advice and information effective - Lack of recourse to funds if appealing decisions; resource management in the current climate) - More queries from individuals and organisations • Developing IT/digital inclusion frameworks (including private landlords, charities) about what is • UK Government raising awareness about welfare happening reforms • Working with people to incentivise direct debits Delegates identified activities and/or timely payment • Robust analysis of changing homelessness trends, • Service models: feedback on good practice examples, – family mediation • Shared risk indicators around welfare reform to – flat share ensure consistency – information leaflets about housing costs etc as • Evidencing achievements part of tenants’ sign up − New funding – “Ask the expert” HB expertise − Better communications/relationships, new – Hazard Alert System cultures of working/approaches emerging – crisis route – 5 night placement − Targeted services, more knowledgeable staff – Tenancy sustainment financial health checks − Homelessness prevented • Landlord fayres, Private Landlord forum, events • Organisational structures: Delegates discssued their concerns for − corporate working group Organisations − short life working group (data analysis) • reduced income and resources/increasing rent − policy reviews arrears and pressure on services and resources − IT systems • increasing numbers of section 11, DHP/LHA


Tayside Fife and Central Hub, 15th June 2012

The E-vote World Cafe Stalls

The World Cafe stalls were run by: • ABRITAS: Housing Options and Homelessness IT packages • Angus Council: Young Persons’ Housing Options and Mediation • Argyll and Bute: delivering Housing Options in a stock transfer Authority • Clackmannanshire Council: Developing a Common Housing Register • Dundee City Council: Homeless Prevention • Hillcrest Housing Association: The use of financial inclusion activities in homelessness prevention • Fife Council: Prevention First - using early interventions & advice to prevent homelessness

Talking points Welfare reforms • Who is vulnerable? • Increasing workloads • Rents not being paid • Lots of re-structures • Past systems haven’t worked • Myth – ‘not me’ • Property availability • Not wanting to bombard people with information

• Glasgow Homelessness Network: Training and Housing Options • Perth and Kinross Council and Cyrenians: Flat Share - An accommodation solution for mitigating welfare reforms? • Chartered Institute of Housing, Scotland: Working with the private rented sector around Housing Benefit and Welfare Reform • Rock Trust: How much do relationships matter? Social networks in homelessness prevention • Scottish Homelessness and Employability Network: “Universal Credit, the Key Threats – Less Talk More Action?” • Scottish Housing Best Value Network: Measuring up – benchmarking the impact of welfare reforms and Housing Options • Shelter Scotland: Housing Options, personcentred solution based advice

• Corporate level activity • Changing existing policies • How can councils make the shortfall (who takes the hit) • Embracing a person centred focus in advice giving • Giving staff the tools they need to be confident – training, local up to date housing information • Different systems and structures critical - CHR • More info on PRS • Know tenants and their needs/work out who will be affected, tenant visits to discuss welfare reform

Tayside Fife and Central Hub, 15th June 2012


The E-vote World Cafe Stalls Talking Points Working with partners • Building good relationships to ensure better delivery • Know partners business/services (for making referrals) • Inconsistent information is a challenge • Different relations and different cultures • Make connections on how policy is carried out to ensure outcomes that suit people • Feedback on joint processes • All agencies update information and communicate changes

Challenges to delivering Housing Options • Funding • Consistency • Welfare reforms • More people from different backgrounds needing advice • Knowledge of services and keeping information up to date • Awareness of what information leaflets available from partner agencies/local agencies

Consistency of advice • Using technology, investment • Up to date information/partnering with LA through CHR • Use techniques to check knowledge before advice training

Ideas • Have Housing Option ambassadors • Get good practice information out there - have an easily accessed common central web information point for all stakeholders • Plain English fact sheet (housing related) • Application pack includes HO welfare reform information leaflets (partner information as well) • Practical advice on occupancy/bank accounts


Tayside Fife and Central Hub, 15th June 2012

The E-vote E-Voting is recognised as innovative (and fun) way to engage with people about issues. Delegates were provided with votong handsets to respond to various questions about Housing Options/Welfare Reform. The main results, provided over the next two pages, will be used in Hub discussions about taking work forward. Who do you think are most likely to be affected by Welfare Reform? • A. • B. • C. • D. • E. • F.

People under occupying Single people under 35 Elderly/Disabled Families Long term unemployed All of the above

What is the most effective way to communicate changes due to Welfare Reform? • A. • B. • C. • D. • E. • F.

Email Press Training Letters Meetings Other

What area do you think Housing Options could be most effective to help with the impact of Welfare Reform? • A. • B. • C. • D. • E. • F.

Homeless Prevention Help people stay in their current home Access to Private Rented Sector Obtaining realistic advice on options available Access to supported/sheltered accommodation Enabling people to make their own choices

What activities are your organisation planning or undertaking in relation to Welfare Reform? • A. • B. • C. • D. • E. • F.

Staff training Raising customer awareness Impact assessment Service review All of the above None

80 40 0 A - 8%

C - 0%

E - 3%

B - 14%

D - 1%

F - 68%

A - 4%

C - 35%

E - 15%

B - 26%

D - 4%

F - 5%

A - 22%

C - 1%

E - 0%

B - 7%

D - 43%

F - 19%

A - 20%

C - 3%

E - 51%

B - 5%

D - 4%

F - 5%

80 40 0

80 40 0

80 40 0

Tayside Fife and Central Hub, 15th June 2012


The E-vote How would YOU like to be involved in hub activities? • A. • B. • C. • D. • E. • F.

Newsletter More events like this Website Email updates Milestone meetings Link officer

How could we best share good practice and work together better? • A. • B. • C. • D. • E. • F.

Job shadowing Training Better communication Use of internet/forums All of the above Other

What challenges do you think we will encounter with the Housing Options approach? • A. • B. • C. • D. • E. • F.

Preventing gate keeping Increase in workload for staff delivering Housing Options Monitoring its effectiveness Delivering the approach alongside restricted/ cut budgets Changing the culture in the way we deal with homeless presentations Suitability of the approach for some local authorities such as rural areas

Do you feel that you have gained anything from today’s event to increase your awareness of Welfare Reform? • A. Yes • B. No • C. Unsure


Tayside Fife and Central Hub, 15th June 2012

80 40 0 A - 4%

C - 5%

E - 15%

B - 38%

D - 12%

F - 14%

A - 3%

C - 5%

E - 73%

B - 3%

D - 4%

F - 3%

A - 5%

C - 11%

E - 28%

B - 12%

D - 32%

F - 0%

A - 78%

C - 8%

E - 0%

B - 9%

D - 0%

F - 0%

80 40 0

80 40 0

80 40 0

Final Talking Points The E-vote Panel Discussion Q


How can we increase communication between advice services and ourselves? We want to develop training for more specific roles.

What understanding is there about what Welfare Reforms likely to be

A’s Doing learning needs analysis and developing training programme/sessions, e-learning Keeping in touch with advice and voluntary centres Wider involvement with other organisations, advice partnerships etc. Look at accreditation for Housing Option standards - through partnership working. Councils can’t do this on their own. Use existing national standards with stronger focus on delivery. And finally There was recognition that The HUB has now become real for some people – and today is an important step for taking the work from meeting rooms in Perth and progressing even further • There is energy, commitment and enthusiasm for taking this work forward • People should contact and ask HUB members questions • There are common links within different contexts • Very relaxed day good discussion sessions and getting the different views • Has been good to have managers along • Questions from Private Landlords • Many housing benefits mitigation activities: • HUBS working brilliantly – and the positive feeling of being part of that transition • There are positive impacts from service changes

A’s Up to us to get the message out widely, writing letters out etc. Give clear advice, need to make sure all professionals are aware of welfare reforms to avoid giving out different kinds of advice and information. Develop risk indicators/some sort of assessment we can do for people to find out what their risk is. What resolution advice can we give? HUB potentially to work on developing indicators advice.

THERE IS STILL MORE TO DO – WE ARE HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION People are committed to • Keeping going and following through on initial activities • Stating the Scottish position about the extent of welfare reforms • Urging the UK government to take responsibility – and making people aware of how they are going to be affected. • Giving people opportunity to prepare and mitigate • Getting RSLs and other people involved • National outcome framework – statisticians looking at this • Pulling together what each HUB is doing around mitigation and getting it around other HUBS

Tayside Fife and Central Hub, 15th June 2012


About Tayside Fife and Central Housing Options Hub The Hub has been meeting regularly since the end of 2010 and has developed a strong commitment to collaborative working. This shared focus has been crucial in taking forward various work strands: benchmarking indicators, development of self serve web information point, learning needs assessment and training and, off course, delivering this event! The Hub has also discussed how it will progress other work strands in the future: wider collaboration with other Hubs and local partnering organisations; measuring the customer experience, embedding a culture change that best supports delivering Housing Options. The Tayside Fife and Central Hub looks forward to furthering Housing Options approaches across their local areas.

Hub Contacts If you would like more information about Housing Options in your area, please contact Angus Council, Gary McKenzie: Argyll and Bute Council, Douglas Whyte: Clackmannanshire Council, Francine Abercrombie: Dundee City Council, Brian Shaw: Fife Council, Paul Short: Perth and Kinross Council, Clare Mailer: The Scottish Housing Best Value Network provides admin support to this Hub:

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