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Homelessness Strategy

2007-2010 Year Three Update


Contents

2

1

Foreword

3

2

Introduction

4

3

Analysis

6

4

National Indicator 156

13

5

Other Achievements

15

6

Strategy Actions

18

7

The Future

29

8

Comments Slip

30

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

Year Three Update


1

Foreword As the Executive Councillor (Communities) I am pleased to introduce this third and final annual update of the Homelessness Strategy 2007-10 for Stockport. Through wide consultation, Stockport Council has developed a vision for the Borough as a place that is ‘cleaner, greener, safer and stronger’. Consistent with this vision, we believe it is very important that homelessness is effectively prevented wherever possible; and for those people who become homeless, it is important that there are sufficient facilities and support to help them, both temporarily and in securing settled accommodation in the longer term.

The third year of this strategy has seen further success in reducing homelessness for a fifth consecutive year; linked to this is a significant increase in homelessness prevention, which has more than doubled in the same period. This update provides information on the achievements over the past year and looks ahead to the forthcoming 2011 Homelessness Strategy, and the emerging challenges that we are all facing in the current difficult economic climate. Without continued support and commitment from partner agencies these challenges will surely have an adverse impact on homelessness and the use of temporary accommodation within the Borough. The vast majority of the Action Plan for all three years of this strategy has now been implemented and has brought significant improvements for homeless or potentially homeless households. Any outstanding actions will be put forward into the 2011 Homelessness Strategy, ensuring they are still relevant and achievable in the new political and economic climate we find ourselves in. I would like to express my thanks to partner agencies for their continued commitment and co-operation in helping deliver on this. In early 2010 the Audit Commission re-inspection once again recognised services to people who are homeless in Stockport as “an area of significant strength”, and named Stockport Homes as an ALMO ‘best performer’ in this area. Stockport Council and Stockport Homes want to continue to deliver strong services, despite the challenges we now face. In delivering the forthcoming 2011 strategy, the Council relies greatly on the further development and strengthening of partnerships and joint working, which I hope will evolve as needs are met, new challenges emerge and fresh practices arise from our partners.

Councillor Helen Foster-Grime

Executive Councillor (Communities) Year Three Update

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

3


2

Introduction

Stockport’s Homelessness Strategy was first written as a direct result of the Homelessness Act 2002, and the then Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) report of the same year, ‘More than a Roof’. Legislation requires that homelessness reviews are conducted, and strategies written, at least every five years. This strategy and its predecessor worked on a three year period, but due to the current economic climate the forthcoming strategy will cover the five year period from 2011-2016. Reviewing the last three years customers, partner agencies, Stockport Homes and Stockport Council working together have seen many successes in tackling and addressing homelessness in the Borough. Updates from the last three years have been incorporated in this document to highlight the range of developments implemented by the strategy. In the current economic climate the Borough will face increasingly difficult challenges as the pressure to reduce homelessness and temporary accommodation use increases. This past year has been spent focussing on tackling ‘complex needs’ and responding to the recession; for example: • continuing to identify and support entrenched rough sleepers; • dedicating Housing Options Officers to provide advice and support to prevent

mortgage repossessions; and • working with offenders to reduce crime and the fear of crime within the Borough.

As budget cuts and service limitations seem increasingly likely in the coming years, Stockport Homes and Stockport Council will need to develop even more innovative and cost effective ways of working with stakeholders and partner agencies to continue to provide a comprehensive service to a diverse range of customers. As noted in previous updates, the government’s Best Value Performance Indicators were removed in 2007 and replaced by the National Indicator set in 2008. A particular target relevant to homeless services now is National Indicator 156, introduced to compliment the government’s target to reduce the number of ‘priority need’ households (including children and pregnant women amongst others) in temporary accommodation by half by 2010 from a starting point in

4

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

Year Three Update


2004. In reality this means a reduction from 55 to 27 of relevant households being accommodated. This target was achieved in September 2008 a year and a half early, and the 2009/10 financial year was spent working towards maintaining this and also meeting the locally improved target of 23 households. At the end of the second year of this strategy we were awaiting confirmation on certain legal issues via case law which will impact on the duties and provision available. This included the status of those accommodated in women’s refuges and Social Services responsibility for accommodating lone, homeless 16-17 year olds. These have now been clarified: • in Moran v Manchester City Council it was determined that a refuge cannot

be classed as settled accommodation, therefore those occupying such accommodation will continue to be assessed under homelessness legislation; and • in R(G) v Southwark and subsequent statutory guidance, it has been determined that all lone, homeless 16-17 year olds should be assessed by Social Services under the Children’s Act to determine whether they are deemed vulnerable enough to become ‘looked after’ by the state. This case law and guidance indicates that in all but a few exceptional cases, homeless 16-17 year olds would automatically satisfy the criteria for becoming a looked after child. Evidently this has implications for the joint working protocol between housing and Children’s Services, and potentially huge cost implications for the Council. There have also been decisions made about the eligibility of European Union members under homelessness legislation, with Teixeira v Lambeth Local Borough Council and Harrow Local Borough Council v Ibrahim finding that the primary carer of a child will continue to be eligible for assistance whilst that child remains in education in the United Kingdom, regardless of the parent’s worker status. At the end of the third year of this strategy clarification is still awaited on other issues, including what powers can be used to remove perpetrators of domestic violence from social housing tenancies. Given that domestic violence has become the main cause of homelessness in Stockport, this clarification will be of particular importance. We are also awaiting indication of what priority tackling homelessness will be afforded by the new government; early indications have demonstrated the new Housing Minister’s keen interest in tackling rough sleeping and multi-agency working, but as yet there has been little time to translate this into statutory guidance or link to fiscal policy. Developments in case law throughout the lifetime of these strategy updates and forthcoming determinations will have an influence on content of the 2011 Homelessness Strategy. Any outstanding actions identified from this update will also have potential to be carried over to the action plan for the next five years. Year Three Update

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

5


3

Analysis

Acceptances In Stockport, a total of 123 households were accepted as having a full duty (in other words, to be rehoused) owed to them under homelessness legislation in 2009/10. For the fifth consecutive year this continues the positive drive on homelessness prevention and promoting alternative housing options and lifestyle choices, and is echoed throughout the region and nationally. Additionally to these cases, there were also 183 cases who were homeless but to whom the authority had a power, but not a duty, to rehouse. This serves as a reminder that although great progress has been made in preventing homelessness amongst groups such as families, pregnant women and people who are considered to be especially vulnerable, there is still a significant group of other people experiencing homelessness. Full Duty Acceptances in Stockport by year

Number of households

600 500 400

378

300 229

200

152

128

100 0

6

561

2004/05

2005/06

2006/07 Year

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

2007/08

2008/09

Year Three Update

123

2009/10


Full Duty Acceptances in Greater Manchester by year

Stockport

1500

Wigan * Trafford

Acceptances

1200

Tameside 900

Salford Rochdale *

600

Oldham Manchester *

300

Bury * 0

2006/07

2007/08

2008/09

2009/10

Bolton

Year

Full Duty Acceptances nationally by year

70000 Acceptances

63170

60000

53430

50000 40020

40000 30000

2007/08

2008/09 Year

2009/10

Despite being the third largest Borough in terms of number of households within Greater Manchester, Stockport historically has one of the lowest levels of homelessness acceptances in comparison to its population size, currently at approximately one acceptance per 1,000 households, and has reduced homelessness by 46% over the lifetime of the 2007-2010 Homelessness Strategy. However, the rate of decline has now slowed and does not reflect the continued downward trend in acceptances nationally. What can be gathered is that demand for the service and efforts to relieve homelessness have intensified, which is reflected in a rise from 252 to 515 instances of prevention cases per year over the lifetime of the strategy. Stockport is clearly now being affected by issues such as the economic downturn and increased demand for affordable housing in the Borough, which needs to be addressed if homelessness is to continue to reduce under the 2011 strategy. Year Three Update

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

7


3

Analysis

Themes: 2009-10 A key focus of work during 2009-10 has been to continue developing the ‘enhanced housing options’ approach and to reduce barriers or exclusion from the service, including efforts directed at offenders and those with low to medium level health issues. Although relatively few applicants are found to be ‘vulnerable’ and thus in priority need as a result of time spent in prison or low level health issues, these all present an ongoing source of concern in Stockport when trying to address complex needs and homelessness. A dedicated Housing Options Officer for Offenders has been funded via Probation, Supporting People and Stockport Homes to provide a link between prisons, offender management services and housing to ensure that offenders are prevented from being released to, or becoming, of no fixed abode. This in turn has a complementary effect of reducing re-offending rates in the Borough and contributing to other National Indicators and the Stockport Local Area Agreement. This officer has been tasked with maintaining the Stockport Housing Offender Service, which has exceeded actions set out in the Homelessness Strategy and will be outlined later in this update. With regards to health, a Greater Manchester Hospital Discharge Protocol has been developed to prevent hospitals discharging patients on short notice with unaddressed housing issues, and further work is being planned to publicise this. Stockport Homes and the Community Mental Health Team have also established a joint working protocol to help reduce instances of tenancy breakdown amongst Stockport Homes’ tenants with recognised mental health issues. 2009-10 has seen the establishment of the Employment Support Officer post, following the development of an ‘enhanced housing options’ approach in 2008-09. This Officer assists customers in finding employment, education, training and volunteering opportunities as well as disseminating a worklessness toolkit to other agencies and stakeholders. Further details on the impact of this are included later in this update. The Housing Options Team has also strengthened links with agencies such as Debt Advice, Welfare Rights and the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) to provide customers with free financial, legal and benefit advice to help prevent homelessness and encourage them to maximise employment opportunities and a range of housing options. Linked to this a Housing Options Officer dedicated to preventing repossessions was also recruited. Furthermore, ‘Skills for Life’ training has continued to be made available to customers at Stockport Homes’ Temporary Accommodation Schemes. 8

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

Year Three Update


Themes: 2008-09 A key focus of work during 2008-09 was to provide greater access to the service and developing support for those people who are particularly vulnerable / socially excluded who would previously not have engaged with traditional services and have preferred to sleep rough. A protocol was developed with a local charity to help engage customers who would otherwise have remained excluded to link them into services such as temporary accommodation, health and drug and alcohol services. Throughout the year the Housing Options Team expanded it’s ‘enhanced housing options’ approach, the programme outlined by the government to help customers who access housing options services to automatically be linked into a number of other services depending on their needs such as health, education and employment, and money advice. 2008-09 of the strategy saw us receive funding from Supporting People to help us develop links with employment and training providers, and engage customers in this process through housing forms and information in our reception area.

Themes: 2007-08 In 2007-08 the service became increasingly accessible and the new customer friendly reception aided this, together with outreach services offered by the team which aim to provide housing options and advice at the earliest opportunity so that customers can make informed choices. 2007-08 saw a significant increase in floating support and tenancy support services commissioned by Supporting People, which make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable clients and enable them to remain in their own accommodation. This included a Family Intervention Project which worked with ‘challenging’ families to maintain their accommodation. Additionally, this year saw a concentrated focus on improving access to and the quality of temporary accommodation. The Temporary Accommodation Strategy was launched, and ensuing initiatives included wheelchair accessible flats at all schemes, increased customer involvement and customer training courses. The improvements made contributed greatly to the schemes all achieving ‘Grade A’ at Supporting People inspection in 2008; the first in Stockport to do so.

Year Three Update

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

9


3

Analysis

Causes of homelessness The following table gives the key causes of homelessness where a full duty to rehouse has been accepted for the last three years and some of the intervention measures in place to help address the issues raised. Main cause of homelessness Domestic violence

2007-08 2008-09 32 20

Asked to leave by parents

39

38

Loss of private rented accommodation

13

12

Asked to leave by friends or other relatives

14

7

Refugees required to leave accommodation provided by the Home Office

18

9

2009-10 24 (20% of acceptances) 21 (17% of acceptances) 12 (10% of acceptances) 10 (8% of acceptances) 7 (6% of acceptances)

Domestic violence ¸ A full ‘sanctuary scheme’ is in operation supported by Stockport Council, Stockport Homes and local Registered Social Landlords. This potentially includes the provision of a ‘safe room’ and target hardening measures such as locks and fire-proof letterboxes, to enable victims of abuse to remain in their homes. This scheme is offered regardless of whether the victim is a tenant or owner;

¸

Stockport Homes’ Anti-Social Behaviour Team have developed a Domestic Abuse Policy and Procedure for current tenants;

¸ Stockport has a well established Domestic Abuse Forum and Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences; and

¸

10

Various campaigns and training exercises have led to a better awareness of the issues and support available such as outreach and the women’s centre run by Stockport Women’s Aid.

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

Year Three Update


Asked to leave by parents, friends or other relatives ¸

The service offers a dedicated Mediation Officer to all those asked to leave by their parents to try and resolve issues and return children home;

¸

All 16/17 year olds are interviewed by the Special Needs Housing Officer before being jointly assessed by housing and Children’s Services;

¸

Social Care have continued to fund ‘Nightstop’, which offers young people accommodation within a household on a night by night basis;

¸

Supported Lodgings are providing longer-term supported accommodation for young people, which equips them better when they are ready for their own accommodation; and

¸

The Housing Support Point offers a single point of access to all supported accommodation and floating support which can be utilised to prevent homelessness amongst young people.

Loss of private rented accommodation ¸

A Housing Options Outreach Worker is dedicated to liaising with landlords who have asked their tenants to leave and seeks to resolve any issues there might be in the tenancy;

¸

The Resettlement Team are now providing tenancy support to Deposit Scheme tenants on the basis of need;

¸

All Deposit Scheme tenants are now ‘safeguarded’ so that rent is paid directly to landlords to prevent arrears building;

¸

Awareness of support and assistance that can be offered to tenants who are causing landlords problems has been raised in the landlords forum and landlords newsletter;

¸

The Government’s national Deposit Registration Scheme has been in place since April 2008, and the Housing Options Team have worked to raise awareness and compliance with this;

¸

Officers at Housing Options are Housing Benefit verification and discretionary housing payment trained which has led to claims being dealt with speedily and ensuring tenants are able to remain in their accommodation; and

¸ An exceptional payment fund and repossessions prevention fund are in place to assist those affected by the economic downturn.

Year Three Update

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

11


3

Analysis

Refugees required to leave accommodation provided by the Home Office ¸ The Housing Options Team work closely with Strategic Housing and Stockport Asylum Team, to help refugees explore all their options and avoid them from becoming homeless at the earliest opportunity;

¸

The Housing Options Team meet with the UK Border Agency to monitor cases which are likely to receive a decision;

¸

Funding was agreed in year three to help prevent homelessness amongst ‘legacy’ asylum cases dealt with by Stockport’s Asylum Team; and

¸

The Housing Options Team will be exploring with private providers the possibility of refugees remaining in their accommodation rather than having to move into temporary accommodation.

The above initiatives have had a significant impact on reducing homelessness across Stockport and other prevention options and housing advice have supported the reduction in homelessness acceptances offering customers increased housing options, before having to resort to homelessness provision.

¸

In 2009-10 a total of 119 households were able to successfully enter into the private rented sector with the assistance of the Rent Bond Scheme. This was a slight decline on the previous year due to the tightening of criteria, but has ensured that the scheme is able to provide comprehensive support to the most vulnerable applicants. Claims against the scheme when tenancies fail have also reduced by 12% in the past year, demonstrating its viability as a housing option and homelessness prevention ‘tool’;

¸

In 2009-10 a total of 353 households were successfully mediated back home to family and friends with the addition of support to help with longer term planned moves. This represents a success rate of 88%, which equals that achieved in the previous year, and exceeds 2007-08’s rate of 83%. This is despite demand for the service increasing by 38% over the three years;

¸

75 customers have benefited from an Exceptional Payment Fund since 2008-09 to prevent homelessness by either enabling them to stay in their current home, or by assisting them into alternative accommodation; and

¸ Since the beginning of 2010 four customers have been assisted by the Mortgage Repossessions Prevention Fund to help them reduce arrears and the threat of repossession, or to secure new accommodation before being made homeless. 12

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

Year Three Update


National Indicator 156

4

October 2007 saw the introduction of a new range of National Indicators replacing previous Best Value Performance Indicators, which became effective in April 2008. Directly concerning homeless services was National Indicator 156 which counts the number of households in ‘priority need’ living in temporary accommodation and compliments the government target to halve the numbers of households living in temporary accommodation by 2010 – in real terms this means a reduction from 55 to 27 households. As can be seen below during 2008-09 Stockport achieved its target a year and a half early, and by 2009-10 had met its locally determined target of 23. This represented an overall reduction in the number of households in temporary accommodation of 58%, or 62% per 1,000 households in the Stockport Borough. The reduction in the National Indicator 156 has positive implications for the ability of the service to provide for single, non-priority homeless applicants. These include those aforementioned groups with often complex needs, such as offenders and rough sleepers. With the drive to house less ‘priority need’ households in temporary accommodation, support can be focussed on providing an enhanced housing options approach to the many other homeless people who may previously have had difficulty accessing the service and been placed out of the Borough. This in turn helped to address other social issues such as offending, health, worklessness and social inclusion.

70 60 50 40 CLG Target

30

Year Three Update

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

Mar 10

Dec 09

Sep 09

Jun 09

Mar 09

Dec 08

Sep 08

Jun 08

Mar 08

Dec 07

Sep 07

Jun 07

Mar 07

Dec 06

Sep 06

Jun 06

Mar 06

Dec 05

Sep 05

Jun 05

Mar 05

20 Dec 04

Numbers in temporary accommodation at the end of each quarter

80

13


National Indicator 156

4

A key factor in the reduction of ‘priority need’ households living in temporary accommodation throughout the lifetime of the strategy can be attributed to the increase in prevention work through the assistance of the Mediation Service and Stockport Homes’ Deposit Scheme, as well as the introduction of the exceptional payment and repossession prevention funds. Obviously the new economic climate presents a risk to the ongoing decline in numbers of acceptances and placements in temporary accommodation, and therefore the 2011 strategy will need to find new and innovative ways of preventing homelessness. Early initiatives already include attempting to recuperate monies loaned out from the two funds, and expanding the use of the voluntary sector. Although the BVPIs are no longer monitored at a national level, Stockport has kept them as a local performance indicator. This year has shown continued improvement:

183b 202 203

213

214

14

Description Households in bed-and-breakfast Households in shared temporary accommodation Estimate of rough sleepers Average % change in number of households in temporary accommodation Cases of homelessness prevention in relation to Borough population Repeat homelessness cases (priority need)

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

2007/08 0 2.5 weeks 1 -9%

2.5 (314 cases) 1.3 (2 cases)

BVPI Discontinued now monitored as local indicators

BVPI 183a

2008/09 2009/10 0 0 1.5 weeks 2 See NI156

0 0 See NI156

3.9 (485 4.2 (515 cases) cases) 0 (0 cases)

Year Three Update

0 (0 cases)


5

Other Achievements

The Homelessness Strategy 2007-10 has seen a great impetus on striving forward whilst continuing to respond to the changing economic, political and social environment. Listed below are some of the planned and ad-hoc successes that help improve services in Stockport. In addition, on the following pages is more detailed information about all of the action plan targets.

2009-10: • The dedicated Housing Options Officer for offenders has been jointly funded by Probation, Supporting People and Stockport Homes to operate the Stockport Housing Offender Service, with the aim of preventing homelessness, acquiring suitable accommodation and contributing to an overall reduction in crime rates in the Borough. Additionally Probation has supplied £13,000 to assist ex-offenders in obtaining accommodation through the Deposit Scheme. Funding has been approved for another year, but within the first 12 months of delivery 80 offenders were housed in a variety of accommodation, including Stockport Homes’ Temporary Accommodation Schemes, social housing tenancies, with private landlords and in supported accommodation via the Housing Support Point. Prior to Stockport Homes’ involvement the scheme under a different practitioner rehoused only one offender in a year; • A Housing Options Officer dealing with mortgage repossessions and notices served upon social and private sector tenants, funded by the CLG until December 2010. As well as creating the post, the CLG also provided £123,500 for a ‘repossessions prevention fund’, specifically to prevent homelessness amongst people affected by the economic downturn. Since this officer came into post (January 2010) over 50 homeowners have been provided with comprehensive advice and support; this has included undertaking referrals to the government’s mortgage rescue schemes, advice on support for mortgage interest payments and as part of negotiations with lenders, utilising the fund to prevent homelessness; • Creating the post of Employment Support Officer to help customers find employment, training, education and volunteering opportunities. 125 customers have been helped by this officer since they came into post in August 2009, and based on a snapshot of the service in March 2010, 28 customers had been successful in securing some kind of employment or training activity; Year Three Update

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

15


5

Other Achievements

• Re-launching the Temporary Accommodation Expert Panel as H3 ‘Helping the Homeless into Housing’, a fully constituted customer group with an elected committee. In the remainder of this year and the 2011 Homelessness Strategy this group will look at sourcing and bidding for a range of funding to make improvements to the Temporary Accommodation Schemes and opportunities for people who are homeless; • Continuation of the Christmas card initiative to raise money for facilities for residents in temporary accommodation through selling cards designed by current and former service-users. The proceeds from these cards have been used to provide welcome and move on packs for residents including essential household items such as kettles, toasters and towels. The H3 will look to expand upon this initiative into others areas of social enterprise and fundraising to further benefit current and future service-users; • The Housing Options Team introduced video advice interviews and enhanced website content to make the service more accessible for a wider range of customers; • A £3,000 Homelessness Grant was received from the Department of Communities and Local Government to support more intensive work to engage and support entrenched rough sleepers. A finalised protocol for a ‘virtual group’ of agencies enlisted to assist in this will be produced this year; and • A multi-agency procedure for reducing evictions or abandonment of accommodation amongst Stockport Homes’ tenants due to mental ill health was developed.

2008-09: • Prevention Fund introduced helping 51 households to either remain in their current accommodation or into alternative accommodation without having to move into temporary accommodation; • Housing Support Point introduced based within the Housing Options Team, which now co-ordinates all short-term funded Supporting People accommodation-based and floating support services across Stockport; • Housing Options continue to work towards providing enhanced housing options linking customers to employment and education services after being identified from Housing Options and Homechoice application forms. A touch-screen kiosk has also been introduced in the Housing Information Centre with access to job-search sites and also enables customers to make bids on their Homechoice application; 16

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

Year Three Update


• Improved access to tenancy sustainment initiatives with the introduction of three additional Supporting People funded posts within Stockport Homes, with additional workers within Stockport Homes’ Deposit Scheme and Mediation Service, and a floating support worker for those suffering or at risk of domestic abuse; • A competition was run involving residents of Stockport Homes’ Temporary Accommodation Schemes to design Christmas cards – these were then sold at a variety of locations and the £580 raised was used by the schemes to help residents sustain accommodation when they moved into their new homes; and • The Housing Options Team have developed a protocol to help engage socially excluded individuals / rough sleepers back into main stream services.

2007-08: • Big Lottery Funding secured for two dedicated Play and Development Workers at the families temporary accommodation scheme to work with children and their families; • Reduction in the amount of time homeless families have to spend in shared temporary accommodation down from nine weeks to around one week; • Continuing to avoid the use of bed and breakfast accommodation for homeless families and 16 and 17 year olds (in keeping with government targets); • Family Intervention Project (FIP) introduced working with ‘challenging’ families to address their behaviour and maintain their accommodation; • Improved access to tenancy sustainment initiatives across all sectors and the provision of an enhanced sanctuary scheme; • Increased service-user involvement and consultation. Temporary Accommodation Strategy launched. Temporary Accommodation Expert Panel (TAEP) set-up with residents (now H3, Helping the Homeless into Housing); • Completion of high quality wheelchair standard extension and residents’ kitchen at Buxton Road Centre; • New kitchen and bathrooms provided at Strathclyde House; • Customer training courses tailored to the needs of those in temporary accommodation offered; and • Work towards achieving grade A in Supporting People assessments of Stockport Homes’ Temporary Accommodation Schemes in spring 2008.

Year Three Update

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

17


6

Strategy Actions

Actions for the Homelessness Strategy were set to achieve outcomes against the broad themes within it: • homelessness prevention and housing options; • support; and • strategic working.

The actions set have been challenging in nature, whilst also leaving scope to take advantage of opportunities that may occur throughout the lifetime of this strategy. This in part has supported the reduction in homelessness acceptances throughout 2009-10 for the fifth consecutive year, and has driven up customer satisfaction with the service. Service standards were agreed with customers in 2009-10 and are reported back in the bi-annual Housing Need and Support Service Newsletter, ‘Going Places’. They are: Standard Customers approaching reception at the Housing Information Centre to be seen within five minutes Customers with appointments to see a Housing Options Officer to be seen within 10 minutes or less Customers who approach the Housing Information Centre to be fairly or very satisfied with their visit overall Provide written confirmation of housing options advice interview within 72 hours 10% of housing advice cases to be quality assurance checked by a manager and to ensure they are in line with best practice

Target 90%

Homeless decisions to be made within 33 working days (where all required information is available) All homeless decisions to be checked by a manager to ensure they are in line with legislation, best practice and case law Visit rough sleepers within 24 hours of notification

85%

10 mins 80% 100% 10%

100% 100%

The following table details the actions demanded by the Homelessness Strategy and the progress achieved in these, with the vast majority now being completed at the end of 2009-10.

18

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

Year Three Update


2009-10 Status • S TA • CO M • CO M • CO M • CO M

PL ETE

PL ETE

P L ET E

Year Three Update

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

• CO M

Further develop link-work Probation, Supporting People and Stockport with feeder prisons Homes funding housing post within Housing Options to work with Offenders.

• CO M

NI155 three year cumulative target achieved. Work commenced on new Stockport Homes properties at Mendip / Marlhill sites. Further bid submitted as part of Greater Manchester-wide collaboration.

• CO M

Work with Housing Strategy to increase the amount of social and affordable housing within the Borough

PL ETE • CO M

Work to achieve 50% Target achieved a year and a half early. reduction in number of National target (27) and local target (23) both families in temporary met by end of first quarter of 2010. accommodation by 2010

PL ETE

P L ET E

Range of mortgage initiatives explored, including the recruitment of a Housing Options Officer dealing with repossessions. Housing Options Surgeries extended to Probation, Stonham and the Wellspring. H3 (formerly TAEP) launched as a fully constituted group, now seeking funding opportunities.

P L ET E

Investigate and take advantage of opportunities that arise throughout the lifetime of this strategy

PL ETE

P L ET E

An unannounced day count was undertaken by the Community Drugs Team and Rangers in July 2009, which found no rough sleepers. A rough sleeper count was undertaken in November 2009 in line with Government guidance, which found no rough sleepers on that particular night. The Housing Options Team met with the CLG’s specialist advisor on rough sleepers in December 2009, which led to the further development of joint working and intensive support. In April 2010 £3,000 was received from the CLG to assist with addressing the complex needs of rough sleepers.

P L ET E

Further develop rough sleeping outreach and support work to achieve reductions in rough sleeping BVPI 202

E RT D

E RT D

Alcohol Reference Group disbanded and Alcohol Treatment Group completed after end of 2008-09. Following an Alcohol Care Pathways Conference an area action plan was created with view to establishing a multi-agency ‘virtual group’.

• CO M

Work to introduce relevant recommendations made from Alcohol Strategy / Alcohol Reference Group

• CO M

Progress

• S TA

Description

19


2008-09

Year Three Update

• CO M • CO M

Throughout spring 2008 all three Temporary Accommodation Schemes managed by Stockport Homes went from Level C to Level A during Supporting People assessments – the first services in Stockport to receive this recognition. Play and Development Workers are now employed at the families scheme to provide support and motivation to children resident at the scheme. Skills for Life courses made available to all residents, as well as additional training and skills delivered within the schemes. New kitchens and bathrooms have been fitted at the families’ scheme in consultation with residents. Money secured from Strategic Housing to improve the roof at Brindale House and will be looking to secure match funding from Renewable Energy funds.

• CO M

Continue to improve the standard of temporary accommodation and support for homeless families

PL ETE

PL ETE

P L ET E

Throughout spring 2008 all three Temporary Accommodation Schemes managed by Stockport Homes went from Level C to Level A during Supporting People assessments – the first services in Stockport to receive this recognition. New kitchens and bathrooms fitted at both the families’ and men’s scheme in consultation with residents. New fully adapted flat built at the men’s scheme. Skills for Life courses made available to all residents, as well as additional training and skills delivered within the schemes. Work started on a new food and sensory garden at the female scheme after consultation with residents, completed in 2009.

P L ET E

Continue to improve the standard of temporary accommodation and the range of facilities / support for single men and women

PL ETE

P L ET E

An additional Mediation Officer has been employed through funding secured from Supporting People to transform the service. Social Care have provided a dedicated Social Worker who is present during all 16 and 17 year old homelessness interviews so that a complete assessment of their needs can be made.

• CO M

Expand mediation services – for example, teenage parents, specialist providers, ward specific initiatives

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

Status

• CO M

Progress

• CO M

20

Description


2008-09

Year Three Update

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

• CO M • CO M • CO M

A Family Intervention Project is in operation currently delivered by Stockport Homes’ Resettlement Service. Funding secured from Stockport Homes to employ a part-time education worker to go into schools and provide educational sessions on Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) and homelessness from 2009. The ASB Team have also added an additional stage to their eviction process to ensure evictions do not go ahead unless the households support needs have been considered.

PL ETE • CO M

Introduce comprehensive practices with regard to the Respect Agenda to prevent homelessness – for example, parenting / support schemes

PL ETE • CO M

Review data around Report into youth homelessness produced. youth homelessness and Following on from this the Housing Options housing needs Team will investigate this further to see if any actions are needed.

PL ETE

P L ET E

The Housing Options Team have spent 2008-09 working with Mental Health Services to implement recommendations from the Housing and Mental Health Strategy, including starting the process of establishing an alerter and intervention protocol to prevent those with mental ill-health losing their Stockport Homes accommodation. Additionally, the Allocations Policy was amended to include additional priority for applicants leaving supported accommodation for those with mental ill-health. Work also began on piloting the Greater Manchester Hospital Discharge Protocol.

P L ET E

Implement relevant recommendations of the forthcoming Housing and Mental Health Strategy

PL ETE

P L ET E

Although the BVPI is no longer a national indicator it has remained a local one. 2008 saw the introduction of a Homelessness Prevention Fund helping 51 households from having to become homeless throughout 2008-09. Additional funding secured from Supporting People to increase and expand Rent Bond, Mediation and Domestic Abuse services and take-up. The homelessness prevention target for 2008-09 was exceeded by 150% with 485 households being prevented from becoming homeless.

P L ET E

Increase and improve delivery of housing options and homelessness prevention work to meet / achieve improved outcomes against BVPI 213 homelessness prevention

• CO M

Status

• CO M

Progress

• CO M

Description

21


2008-09

Year Three Update

• S TA • S TA

Although the BVPI is no longer a national indicator it has remained a local one. Bed-and-breakfast accommodation has not been used in Stockport for homeless households for the best part of two decades.

• CO M

Continue to resist the use of bed-and-breakfast accommodation for homeless families which achieves top quartile performance against BVPI 183(a)

E RT D

PL ETE

P L ET E

Throughout 2008-09, Housing Options and Strategic Housing have met with RSL Chief Executives and Homelessness Champions to discuss number of evictions and level of nominations to homeless applicants. The number of evictions for rent arrears are low, whilst nominations have increased by 150% from 2007-08 figures to 984, and the number of lettings going to households accepted as homeless increased to nearly three times previous years – however to just 15, so more work is required here.

E RT D

Work with RSLs to ensure best practice against Housing Corporations’ Homelessness Strategy guidance – for example, reduce evictions, appropriate levels of nominations to homeless applicants

E RT D

E RT D

Throughout 2008-09, Housing Options and Strategic Housing have met with Registered Social Landlord (RSL) Chief Executives and Homelessness Champions to discuss number of evictions. A protocol was developed with Stockport Homes’ Customer Finance Team to create an early warning protocol for those facing eviction. The number of evictions for rent arrears was low, but throughout 2009-10, Housing Options have looked to expand the protocol with Stockport Homes’ Customer Finance Team to other Social Landlords. During 2009-10 two RSLs signed up to the protocol; work on increasing co-operation is ongoing.

• CO M

Work with social housing providers to reduce evictions for rent arrears by early interventions linked to support

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

Status

• S TA

Progress

• S TA

22

Description


2007-08

• CO M

• S TA • CO M • CO M

P L ET E

PL ETE

P L ET E

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

PL ETE

• CO M

Year Three Update

E RT D

• CO M

Improved access to tenancy sustainment initiatives

An Accredited Landlord Scheme has been piloted in the Shaw Heath area. Following this pilot a decision has been made to adopt a Greater Manchester-wide ‘AGMA’ accredited landlord scheme; further developments are awaited. The County Court Duty Rota is now re-operational providing those at court with advice and assistance. Information has been produced in the customer newsletter for those considering Right-to-Buy, and sent out to existing leaseholders. Debt literature is widely available and a referral procedure has been established with Housing Options. A Housing Options Officer for repossessions now also in post, exploring the full range of mortgage rescue initiatives and administering repossessions prevention fund. Rent Arrears Protocol developed with Stockport Homes’ Customer Finance Team and Resettlement Services help prevent homelessness from Stockport Homes’ accommodation. Family Intervention Project piloted working with families with multiple needs at risk of homelessness. Mediation provided in-house supporting 16/17 year olds primarily. Housing Support Point established providing central point of referral for floating support.

PL ETE

E RT D

Joint working with Housing Options and Housing Benefit has led to Housing Benefit claims being sped up, and outreach work has led to the numbers being homeless due to losing private rented accommodation being halved.

P L ET E

Improve homelessness prevention in the private rented sector through the early Housing Benefit identification and the prevention of illegal evictions Introduce Accredited Landlord Scheme with a potential link with the Rent Bond Scheme

Work to minimise the risk of increased homelessness from the owner-occupier sector, for example, debt and mortgage advice campaigns

Status

• S TA

Progress

• CO M

Description

23


2007-08

• CO M

P L ET E

Floating support service provided by Creative Support.

• CO M

P L ET E

PL ETE

• CO M

P L ET E

PL ETE

• CO M

P L ET E

PL ETE

P L ET E • CO M

Floating support service provided by NACRO.

PL ETE

Year Three Update

PL ETE

P L ET E

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

• CO M

P L ET E

Floating support service provided by Threshold. Stockport Offender Housing Service taken over by Stockport Homes in April 2009.

• CO M

Introduce floating support service to encourage tenancy sustainment (mental ill-health) Introduce a floating support service to encourage tenancy sustainment (vulnerable young people) Introduce a floating support service to assist with access to housing and result in subsequent reductions in offending behaviour

An enhanced ‘Sanctuary’ Scheme has been introduced. Stockport Homes have committed £20k and RSLs have signed up to a cross-tenure scheme.

• CO M

Information has been collected about the need for additional support services and passed to Supporting People.

PL ETE

• CO M

Explore need for additional support service for domestic abuse

The Housing Options Manager attends case conferences.

PL ETE

• CO M

Multi-agency data gathering system operational, which understands the numbers of people subject to domestic abuse. Subsequently discontinued.

• CO M

Establish data gathering systems and analysis to better understand demand around domestic abuse referrals Work to support comprehensive responses to domestic abuse cases – for example, Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARAC) Introduce a ‘Sanctuary’ Scheme

• CO M

Status

• CO M

Progress

• CO M

24

Description


2007-08

• CO M • CO M • CO M

Links to above – young people leaving care are now able to use the Choice-Based Lettings (CBL) system for a property of their choice, as well as receiving support from the Special Needs Housing Officer. Stockport Homes is engaging with Spotlight and Probation via the Housing Options Officer for offenders; further work is needed however on engaging other RSL providers.

All recommendations have been implemented.

PL ETE

P L ET E

Review mechanisms to improve access and choices for young people leaving care

Johnnie Johnson Housing Trust, one of the Stockport Partner RSLs has provided an additional unit. Later accepted that this indicator is at odds with NI156 to reduce number of units.

PL ETE

P L ET E

Rent arrears protocol introduced between Housing Options, Customer Finance Team and Resettlement Service at Stockport Homes – supporting those at risk of homelessness due to rent arrears.

PL ETE • CO M

Introduce identification systems linked to multi-agency support service to reduce the number of tenancy failures Increase the number of units of dedicated temporary accommodation for women in fear of violence to meet Community Safety BVPI 225 target Implement recommendations from Allocations Policy Review

• CO M

P L ET E P L ET E • S TA • CO M

E RT D

P L ET E

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

PL ETE • CO M

Year Three Update

E RT D

• S TA

Changes made in Allocations Policy Review to maximise use of Supporting People funded Temporary Accommodation Schemes. Move on Strategy Produced by the Council with recommendations made.

PL ETE • CO M

Develop the engagement of housing providers in the Priority Prolific Offenders (PPO) protocol to support crime reduction strategies Improve re-housing systems to encourage maximum use of Supporting People funded Temporary Accommodation Schemes

Status

• CO M

Progress

• CO M

Description

25


2007-08

‘Pinpoint’ the Regional Choice-Based Lettings Scheme across Greater Manchester has been established, with Stockport being a partner agency.

• CO M

Explore regional choice based lettings across Greater Manchester to increase choice / options

EIA and HIA have both been produced with action plan and recommendations.

PL ETE

P L ET E

All of Stockport Homes’ Temporary Accommodation Schemes meet DDA requirements – this includes ramps instead of stairs and lowered kitchen surfaces.

PL ETE

P L ET E

Year Three Update

• CO M

P L ET E

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

PL ETE • CO M

Work to ensure that all providers delivering services within this area meet requirements from Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and best practice, and meet recommendations from Black Minority Ethnic (BME) Housing Strategy Produce Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) and Health Impact Assessment (HIA), with an action plan for the strategy

• CO M

Status

• CO M

Progress

• CO M

26

Description


6

Strategy Actions

The Homelessness Strategy Update 2007-10 saw the production of the first ‘Temporary Accommodation Strategy’ for the property managed by Stockport Homes on behalf of the Council. All actions within this strategy were achieved by the end of the second year, 12 months ahead of schedule for some points and work to continue to meet these is ongoing. Service standards were also agreed with customers in temporary accommodation and reported back in the Going Places newsletter, which are: Target

Provide accommodation that is clean, safe and meets the Temporary Accommodation Re-let Standards Ensure that the reception and communal areas are clean, tidy and safe Maintain appropriate standards of safety and security throughout the accommodation Make an appointment with each new resident to explain the services available to them within the scheme Provide all residents with a needs assessment interview within two weeks of entering the scheme Hold regular resident meetings, at least every six weeks and more often if necessary and provide feedback to service users from each meeting Inspect repairs at Temporary Accommodation Schemes (ensuring job satisfactory, area clean and safe) Provide appropriate information, guidance and signposting in relation to other services liaise and make referrals where required in relation to service-users individual needs

Year Three Update

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%

100% 100%

27


6

Strategy Actions

The table below provides an update on the actions which have not yet been completed, but were commenced in the years 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10: Status

Introduce Accredited Landlord Scheme with a potential link with the Rent Bond Scheme

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council has agreed to adopt an AGMA scheme; development of this is currently ongoing.

Develop the engagement of housing providers in the Priority Prolific Offenders (PPO) protocol to support crime reduction strategies Work with social housing providers to reduce evictions for rent arrears by early interventions linked to support Work to introduce relevant recommendations made from Alcohol Strategy / Alcohol Reference Group

Stockport Homes is engaging with Spotlight and Probation via the Housing Options Officer for offenders; further work is needed however on engaging other RSL providers.

E RT D

• S TA

Progress

• S TA

E RT D

• S TA

E RT D

• S TA

E RT D

• S TA

Protocols have been developed with Mossbank and Manchester and District; work with other providers is ongoing.

E RT D

• S TA

E RT D

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

Year Three Update

• S TA

E RT D

E RT D

Alcohol Reference Group disbanded and Alcohol Treatment Group completed after end of year two. However, following an Alcohol Care Pathways Conference an area action plan was created with view to establishing a multi-agency ‘virtual group’.

• S TA

28

Description


7

The Future

The Stockport Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010 has achieved 32 of its original action points, leaving four currently being progressed with potential for inclusion in the 2011 strategy depending on their relevance: • Introduce Accredited Landlord Scheme with a potential link with the Deposit (Rent Bond) Scheme. • Develop the engagement of housing providers in the Priority Prolific Offenders (PPO) Protocol to support crime reduction strategies. • Work with social housing providers to reduce evictions for rent arrears by early interventions linked to support. • Work to introduce relevant recommendations made from Alcohol Strategy / Alcohol Reference Group. Throughout the lifetime of this strategy new initiatives have been introduced to keep pace with the changing homelessness agenda. This includes increasing the range of preventative measures to help people avoid homelessness and increase access to settled accommodation and lifestyles. 2007-08 saw an increase in the range and availability of floating support services for vulnerable people, whilst 2008-09 has focused on the introduction of a successful homelessness prevention fund and increasing the standard of temporary accommodation and the support provided within the schemes. 2009-10, as has just been explored, has focussed on addressing complex needs, exclusion and responding to the recession. Work has now commenced on the Homelessness Review 2010, and scoping reports have been produced for the forthcoming Homelessness Strategy. Emerging findings and early recommendations include: • responding to the government’s agenda for conducting rough sleeper counts to a new form of guidance, and responding to the needs of this group; • furthering worklessness initiatives, including social enterprise; • successfully bidding for funding via the H3 (Helping the Homeless into Housing); • tackling domestic abuse, including establishing links to Stockport’s new domestic violence court and independent advocates; • enhancing outreach and expanding on housing options for BME groups, refugees and EU nationals; • increased partnership working and use of the voluntary sector; • contributing to and implementing the results of the Stockport Allocations Policy Review; and • undertaking value for money reviews and business planning to ensure the future viability of the Housing Options service.

Year Three Update

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

29


8

Comments Slip

The forthcoming Homelessness Strategy is due to be presented to the Council Executive in early 2011. Any comments or suggestions for development can be included on the slip at the end of this document, or directed towards the contact details provided. We welcome comments from our customers and other stakeholders. If you would like to make a comment about the Homelessness Strategy or our service in general, please complete and return this form to the address below. You can get a copy of the full Homelessness Strategy or Temporary Accommodation Strategy by contacting Fiona Carr. Fiona Carr, Homelessness Strategy Development Officer, Housing Options Team, Stockport Homes, 1 St. Peter’s Square, Stockport SK1 1NZ. Telephone: 0161 474 3726 Fax: 0161 474 1934 Email: fiona.carr@stockporthomes.org The full Homelessness Strategy and Temporary Accommodation Strategy is available on our website: www.stockporthomes.org

Name…………………………………………………………………………………... Address……………………………………………………………………………...... …………………………………………………………………………………………. Postcode………………………………………………………………………………. Tel………………………………………………………………………………………. Email……………………………………………………………………………………

30

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

Year Three Update


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Year Three Update

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010

31


Accessing our services

Ref: 623 / Janurary 2010

This leaflet gives you information about the Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010 Year Three achievements. If you would like a copy in large print, Braille, on audio tape or CD, please contact the Social Inclusion Team on 0161 474 2860 or email: inclusion@stockporthomes.org


Homeless_Strategy_2007_2010___Year_3_update_pdf