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Homelessness Strategy

2007-2010 Year Two Update


Contents

1 Foreward

3

2 Introduction

4

3 Analysis - Year Two (2008/09)

5-7

4 National Indicator 156 and Best Value Performance Indicators

8-9

5 Strategic Actions

2

10-18

6 The Future

19

7 Comments Slip

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Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010 Year Two Update


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Foreward As the Executive Councillor (Communities) I am pleased to introduce this second 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 second year of this strategy has seen further success in reducing homelessness for a consecutive fourth year, and linked to this is the significant increase in households being able to access housing which they would have previously struggled to do so, such as in the private sector. This update provides information on the achievements over the past year and looks ahead to the emerging challenges that we are all facing in the current difficult economic climate, which without continued support and commitment from partner agencies will have an adverse impact on homelessness and the use of temporary accommodation within the Borough. The vast majority of the Action Plan for the second year has been implemented and has brought significant improvements for homeless or potentially homeless households. I would like to express my thanks to partner agencies for their continued commitment and co-operation in helping deliver on this. The final year of the strategy will look to cement this work and further develop and improve opportunities for people who are vulnerable and ensure that a real and lasting impact is made on homelessness in Stockport now and for future generations. In previous years the Audit Commission recognised services to people who are homeless in Stockport as “an area of significant strength”, which has been strengthened by the Supporting People assessments of Stockport Homes’ temporary accommodation schemes all achieving grade A. In delivering this strategy, the Council relies greatly on the further development and strengthening of partnerships and joint working, which I hope will evolve further as needs are met, new challenges emerge and fresh practices arise from our partners.

Councillor Sue Derbyshire Executive Councillor (Communities) & Deputy Leader

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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 Strategies be written every five years, but here in Stockport we have decided to work to a three year cycle as that gives more opportunities to respond to both national and local challenges – as we have seen recently with the economic downturn which is expected to present very distinct challenges, for example around debt and mortgage repossessions. Over the past year Stockport Council, Stockport Homes and many other partners have seen many successes in tackling and addressing homelessness in the Borough which will be described later. In the current economic climate which we find ourselves in as we head into the third year of this homelessness strategy, the Borough will face increasingly difficult challenges as the pressure to reduce homelessness and temporary accommodation use increases. We have spent this year developing our activities around the government’s emerging worklessness and enhanced housing option’s agenda, we will build on the work done already in this area and continue to drive forward this new approach. At the beginning of the second year of the Homelessness Strategy 200710, the Best Value Performance Indicators (BVPI) were disestablished (although kept as local performance measures) and a new National Indicator (NI) set introduced. Of this new set, NI156 relates to the government’s target to reduce the number of households in temporary accommodation by half by 2010 from a starting point in 2004. In reality this means a reduction from 55 to 27 households being accommodated. This target was achieved in September 2008 a year and a half early. We will continue to work towards reducing this number further throughout the remainder of this strategy. On a related legal matter, at the end of the second year of this strategy we are awaiting final clarification from the courts around duties owed by housing authorities to 16 and 17 year olds who are homeless and also to those living in refuges, which could ultimately impact on how we deliver services to these groups and which are included in the NI156 count.

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Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010 Year Two Update


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Analysis - Year Two (2008/09)

In Stockport a total of 128 households were accepted as having a duty owed to them under homelessness legislation in 2008/09. This continues the positive drive on homelessness prevention and promoting alternative housing options, and is echoed throughout the region and nationally (Figure 1).

Figure 1. - Full duty acceptances in Stockport by year

A key focus of work during year two has been 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 has developed with a local third sector provider, The Wellspring, to help engage customers who would otherwise have remained excluded. This aims to refer customers into the services offered by Stockport Homes and our partners and so provide them with temporary accommodation, health, drug and alcohol services (as appropriate). Throughout the year, Stockport Homes has further developed an ‘enhanced housing options’ approach, whereby customers will automatically be linked into services such as health, education, employment, and money advice. Year two of the strategy has seen the receipt of Supporting People funding to develop links with employment and training providers, and engage customers in this process through housing forms and information in reception areas.

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Below in Table 1 you can see the key causes of homelessness for the last five years and some of the intervention measures in place to help address the issues raised.

Table 1. - Key causes of homelessness Main cause of homelessness

Homelessness Acceptances 20042005

20052006

20062007

20072008

2008-09

Asked to leave by parents

150

107

61

39

38 (30% of total)

Domestic violence

87

41

31

32

20 (16% of total)

Loss of private rented accommodation

87

64

25

13

12 (9% of total)

Refugees required to leave accommodation provided by the Home Office

71

30

17

14

9 (7% of total)

Asked to leave by friends or other relatives

71

30

17

32

7 (5% of total)

Helping customers with the above issues, we have the following measures in place: Asked to leave by parents, friends or other relatives

   6

A dedicated Mediation Officer helping people resolve their family dispute and return home, with a total of 401 households successfully mediated back home – twice as many as in 2007/08. A dedicated Social Worker providing additional support and expertise for all 16 / 17 year olds asked to leave by their parents. Supported Lodgings providing longer-term supported accommodation for young people, which better equips them for their future.

Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010 Year Two Update


         

Domestic Abuse A well established Domestic Abuse Forum and Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference. Increased security measures offered, up to a safe room (known as a ‘sanctuary scheme’) across all tenures of accommodation. Campaigns leading to a better awareness of domestic abuse and newly commissioned, increased outreach support by Stockport Women’s Aid and Stockport Homes.

Loss of private rented accommodation A successful Deposit Scheme helping 198 households – a threefold increase on 2007/08. Use of an innovative Prevention Fund, assisting 51 households to access housing of their choice. A Housing Options Outreach Worker dedicated to liaising with private sector landlords, resolving issues threatening the tenancy. Raised awareness of support and assistance provided to landlords via landlords forums and newsletters. Housing Benefit verification training for staff leading to claims being dealt with more speedily, preventing subsequent homelessness.

Refugees required to leave accommodation provided by the Home Office Targeted advice and support helping refugees explore all their options and better planning for leaving NASS accommodation. Improved work with UK Border Agency to monitor refugee cases likely to need housing assistance.

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4

National Indicator 156 and Best Value Performance Indicators (BVPI)

2008-09 saw the discontinuation of BVPIs (which were generally kept on as local indicators) and the introduction of a new range of National Indicators (NI). Performance against these ex-BVPIs have remained strong (see Table two below for details). Since these BVPIs have been discontinued, performance has continued to be monitored.

Table 2. - National Indicator 156 and BVPIs Brief description

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

183(a)

Households in bed and breakfast

0

0

0

183(b)

Households in shared temporary accommodation

14 weeks

9 weeks

2.5 weeks

202

Estimate of rough sleepers

5

1

1

203

Average % change in number of households in temporary accommodation

16%

8%

-9%

213

Cases of homelessness prevention in relation to Borough population

1.6 (194 cases)

2 (252 cases)

2.5 (314 cases)

214

Repeat homeless cases 4.2 (16 cases)

2.6 (6 cases)

1.3 (2 cases)

2008/09 BVPIs discontinued but retained as local indicators. BVPI 203 effectively new NI156

BVPI

0

1.5 weeks

2

See NI156 below

3.9 (485 cases) 0 (0 cases)

NI156 which counts the number of households living in temporary accommodation and formally introduces the government target to half the numbers of households living in temporary accommodation by 2010 – in real terms for Stockport this is a reduction from 55 to 27 households.

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Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010 Year Two Update


As can be seen in Figure 2. below, during 2008/09 Stockport has achieved this 27 household target ahead of the scheduled deadline.

Figure 2. - Numbers in temporary accommodation at the end of each quarter

Working to achieve the national target by 2010 and go beyond this, Stockport has set a year-on-year target to achieve 23 households by March 2010 (a 15% improvement on the national target, with on-going reductions thereafter). Throughout year three of the strategy this work will continue, but it is recognised that it will be more difficult as the economic downturn continues increasing pressures (for example, in terms of debt and mortgage arrears). Achieving targets set against the national indicator and the ex-BVPIs underpins the work to promote social inclusion and support people who are vulnerable. Whilst important in its own right, this work is relevant to a range of strategic objectives, including indicators around reducing re-offending and sustaining employment and accommodation for certain groups.

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Strategic Actions

This strategy spans three years and the planned year two actions (April 2008 – March 2009) are captured in Table 3, over the next few pages, together with those actions outstanding from year one. In addition to this planned work, other opportunities have arisen within the last year and these have been developed where they were aligned with the broad aims of the strategy and emerging agendas. Actions recorded here are set within the three key themes of: • homelessness prevention and housing options; • support; and • strategic working.

The key outstanding issues from year two, for further action are to: • improve homeless households access to Registered Social Landlords (RSL) properties via nominations; • introduce an RSL eviction protocol to further reduce levels of homelessness; and • implement Mental Health Strategy actions – support alert system for Stockport Homes’ tenants and a Greater Manchester-wide Hospital Discharge protocol.

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Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010 Year Two Update


Table 3. - Year two actions (Homelessness Strategy) Description

Progress

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

Additional temporary Mediation Officer in post, funded by Supporting People. Dedicated Social Worker for homeless 16 and 17 year olds.

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

RSL evictions forming very low number of homelessness acceptances. Broad agreement for a protocol with RSL Chief Executives. To be developed and expanded in year three.

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

All three Stockport Homes’ Temporary Accommodation (TA) Schemes were the 1st in Stockport to achieve the top Level A award during Supporting People assessments in 2008. Play and Development Workers introduced at the family scheme. Many new kitchens and bathrooms installed in TA schemes in consultation with customers. GM Procure to part-fund new garden at women’s scheme.

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

BVPI disestablished – homelessness prevention continues to increase. Prevention Fund assisted 51 households from becoming homeless in 2008/09. Supporting People fund additional Deposit Scheme, mediation and domestic abuse work. Prevention target exceeded by 150% with 485 households assisted.

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Description

Progress

Implement relevant recommendations of the forthcoming Housing and Mental Health Strategy.

Mental Health and Housing Strategy delayed but work underway with an alerter and intervention protocol and a Greater Manchester Hospital Discharge Protocol.

Review data around youth homelessness and housing needs.

Data review completed. Age Restriction Strategy to be finalised as key action addressing housing needs.

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

Family Intervention Project (FIP) is operational. Educational worker attending schools to provide sessions on Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) and homelessness from April 2009. ASB system amended to ensure escalation process includes pre-eviction support.

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

RSL evictions forming very low number of homelessness acceptances. Broad agreement for a protocol with RSL Chief Executives. To be developed and expanded in year three. Whilst nominations for all households have increased by 150% from 2007/08 to 2008/09 up to 984 nominations – rehousing of homeless cases remains at around 12% of acceptances (15 cases in 2008/09).

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

BVPI disestablished, now a local indicator. No bed and breakfast used in 2008/09 and alternative provision and planning in place to meet needs.

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Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010 Year Two Update


Description

Progress

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

All three Stockport Homes TA Schemes were the 1st in Stockport to achieve the top Level A award during Supporting People assessments in 2008. Play and Development Workers introduced at the family scheme. Many new kitchens and bathrooms installed in TA Schemes in consultation with customers.

Introduce accredited landlord scheme with a potential link with the Deposit Scheme.

A limited accredited landlord scheme has been approved by the Council, work to establish this is planned for 2009/10.

Due to the loss of the PPO Develop the engagement of housing providers in the Priority co-ordinator, this action has Prolific Offenders (PPO) protocol been re-set for year three. to support crime reduction strategies. Explore regional choice based lettings across Greater Manchester to increase choice / options.

Pinpoint the Regional Choice-Based Lettings scheme across Greater Manchester has been established, with Stockport being a key stakeholder.

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In addition to the planned actions, a number of ad hoc opportunities have arisen throughout year two, these have been realised and are summarised below. Prevention Fund introduced helping 51 households either remain in their current accommodation or into alternative accommodation. Housing Support Point established within the Housing Options Team, to co-ordinate all short-term funded Supporting People accommodationbased and floating support services across Stockport, via a common referral form. Worklessness initiatives such as a touch-screen kiosk sited at the Housing Information Centre with access to job-search sites, and amendments to application forms enabling customers to indicate their request for assistance with seeking employment, education or training. Improved access to tenancy sustainment initiatives with the introduction of three additional Supporting People funded posts with additional workers focussing on the Deposit Scheme and Mediation Service, and a floating support worker for those suffering or at risk of domestic abuse. Residents at Temporary Accommodation Schemes designing Christmas cards to develop their skills and confidence and raise funds to support additional activities. Further development of an outreach protocol to target rough sleepers, helping engage socially excluded individuals back into main stream services.

The year one 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. Table 4 shown over the next few pages details the progress achieved in the actions against year two of this strategy, and those outstanding from year one.

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Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010 Year Two Update


Table 4. - Year two actions (Temporary Accommodation Strategy). Description

Progress

Promote customer and stakeholder involvement.

Temporary Accommodation Expert Panel further embedded and customers developed “Streets to Home” board game to promote awareness of support available. Customers engaged in H&S inspections, designing new signage, etc.

Consult with customers and stakeholders on a revised support plan.

Completed ahead of schedule in year one to support Supporting People assessments.

Work to promote excellent inter-agency collaboration to provide wraparound / holistic services.

Work with PCT to introduce peer health trainers. Domestic violence outreach introduced. ESOL classes introduced. Big Lottery funds children’s play and development workers.

Review national outcomes monitoring to support service developments.

Range of service developments introduced aligned with national outcomes, including: “wellbeing” - CAB debt advice surgeries at families scheme supporting economic “be healthy” - PCT Health Trainers working at schemes “stay safe” – evictions reducing “enjoy and achieve” – skills for life and other schemes promoted, Work Solutions and others supporting residents into training, employment, etc. “make a positive contribution” – customer engagement improving and dedicated group (TAEP) developing further.

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Description

Progress

Continue to conduct VFM exercises.

Wide range of initiatives resulting in VFM, including: -incentives and property checking system resulting in better maintained accommodation needing less cleaning and repair, -sourcing of donations from local businesses

Sourcing cheaper suppliers for Temporary Accommodation services (for example, furniture).

Broad range of exercises conducted with quotes, etc.

Review support plans and outcomes to ensure service development, including actions to reduce evictions.

Completed in year one, leading to multi-agency work to gain commitment and support to further reduce evictions.

Continue to assess suitability of accommodation.

Done on a continual basis, with a broad range of facilities provided for people with additional support needs, including for people who are disabled. A revised report will be produced in advance of a future Supporting People validation visit (date not yet known). Health and safety and feedback and suggestion systems include involvement of customers to help inform and improve suitability of accommodation.

Reflect corporate target on Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) applicants accessing services.

Percentage of service-users accommodated in temporary accommodation exceeds corporate target.

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Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010 Year Two Update


Description

Progress

Rough sleeper targets.

Supported performance against rough sleeper targets by accommodating rough sleepers, including non-priority and challenging cases. Outturn estimate was two rough sleepers for Stockport.

Meeting the needs of vulnerable people – within direct access accommodation staff should be appropriately skilled to enable people with the widest range of vulnerabilities to be accommodated.

Thorough induction and training plans developed covering key issues, including mental health, drug mis-use, safeguarding, etc. Schemes achieved grade A at Supporting People assessments with commendations for staff.

Consolidate and develop emergency access for the out of hours service.

Scheme Managers on-call system introduced to aid management of and access to schemes out of hours. Each scheme now able to accommodate out of hours referrals.

Preparing Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Temporary Accommodation Strategy.

EIA of the Temporary Accommodation Strategy completed.

Reduce exclusions – exclusions should be avoided except in the most serious of cases.

Ongoing focus and introduction of Housing Support Point helps exclusions to remain very rare and only in the most challenging of cases where there is unmanageable risk to other service users, the scheme, or staff.

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Description

Progress

Work to improve services by achieving grade A of Supporting People.

Throughout Spring 2008, all three of Stockport Homes’ temporary accommodation schemes achieved Grade A individually in the Supporting People assessments – becoming the first in Stockport to achieve this recognition.

Work to promote and continue the physical development of the temporary accommodation schemes.

During 2008/09, improvements to the temporary accommodation schemes have continued to take place. Developments include the installation of a parameter fence around the families’ scheme and funding secured for a new roof; new kitchens, bathrooms and flooring at the males scheme in consultation with residents; and work on a sensory garden started at the females’ scheme.

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Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010 Year Two Update


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The Future

The last year of the Homelessness Strategy will see a considerable focus on maintaining and making further reductions within the 2010 temporary accommodation target. The end of 2008/09 saw 24 relevant households living in temporary accommodation across Stockport, which exceeds the target of 27 set by the government for the end of 2009/10. Maintaining this target will be increasingly challenging in light of the current economic climate and the increased pressures associated with debt and mortgage repossession. However, work is planned to improve the multi-agency support to customers where this is most needed – such as with the excellent work done by the Citizens Advice Bureau and Welfare Rights. Throughout the lifetime of this strategy new initiatives have been and will continue to be 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. Year one saw an increase in the range and availability of floating support services for vulnerable people. Year two 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. Year three will see activities including: • increased joint-working specifically with agencies that can assist in addressing worklessness; • expanding the ethos and practice of enhanced housing options; • supporting refugees so that they can avoid becoming homeless and needing temporary accommodation; • further develop rough sleeping outreach and support work to achieve reductions in rough sleeping and achieve the governments target of no rough sleepers by 2012; and • further develop link work with feeder prisons and other offender management services to support service-users from becoming homeless and reducing offending lifestyles.

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Comments Slip

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 Joanne Claridge. Joanne Claridge, Homelessness Strategy Development Officer, Housing Options Team, Stockport Homes, 1 St. Peter’s Square, Stockport SK1 1NZ. Telephone: 0161 474 3716 Fax: 0161 474 1934 Email: joanne.claridge@stockporthomes.org The full Homelessness Strategy and Temporary Accommodation Strategy is available via the Council’s or Stockport Homes’ websites: www.stockport.gov.uk or www.stockporthomes.org

Name........................................................................................................... Address........................................................................................................ ..................................................................................................................... Postcode...................................................................................................... Tel................................................................................................................. Email............................................................................................................. Comments.................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................... .....................................................................................................................

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Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010 Year Two Update


Accessing our services

Ref: 623 January 2010

This leaflet gives you information about the Homelessness Strategy 2007-2010 Year Two 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

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homeless_strategy_year2_pdf