Agenda item

Homelessness Strategy

The Homelessness Strategy is submitted for the Board’s consideration and approval – Emily Fernandez


It was reported that in 2019, the Board approved formation of a Homelessness Strategic Group which commenced work on a countywide strategy on tackling and reducing homelessness.


An update was provided, which included a presentation from Lisa Barker Head of Housing at Warwick District Council and Emily Fernandez from WCC Public Health. The presentation covered the following areas:


  • Countywide homelessness conference
  • The approvals given previously by the Board
  • Partners involved
  • Engagement and collaboration
  • Chapter themes
  • Homeless strategy strategic vision and priorities
  • Homelessness and health – what the evidence tells us
  • Health recommendations
  • Challenges for delivery
  • Next steps


The Warwickshire Homeless Strategic Group had been working collaboratively across a wide range of partners, writing a countywide strategy on preventing homelessness. Development of the strategy had been delayed for several months due to Covid-19. A concerted effort had been made to bring it to fruition. The completed strategy had been taken through district and borough council governance processes, ahead of this report being submitted.


A section of the report focussed on the development of the strategy, including the strategic priorities of health, financial inclusion, young people, domestic abuse and offending. Countywide strategy engagement was undertaken. The recommendations and content had been refined following this engagement, to ensure relevant comments were reflected within the strategy. An appendix to the report provided a detailed analysis of the feedback. The covering report highlighted this feedback and the support for proposed priorities / recommendations either in total, or to some extent. Qualitative feedback from the engagement had resulted in further changes to the strategy.


In terms of next steps, the homelessness strategic group would continue to work collaboratively and to develop an action plan to underpin the strategic recommendations. This would result in the development of workstreams, to achieve the strategic vision and periodic updates would be provided.


The Chair thanked the officers for the presentation. Questions and comments were invited, with responses provided as indicated:


  • Councillor Falp welcomed the strategy and particularly the section on tackling domestic abuse. A question on the arrangements for refuge provision and how the strategy would align if those placements were out of County. Reference also to the Government Bill on domestic abuse and the duty of care for authorities to assist people from any area balanced against the limits on available accommodation.
  • Emily Fernandez spoke of the plans for a working group on safe accommodation. This would look at the issues referenced, such as cross border arrangements. The Bill provided a good opportunity to look at the challenges from domestic abuse and homelessness across partnerships and organisational boundaries.
  • Lisa Barker added that the vast majority of abuse was against women and at times relocation out of county, even temporarily, may be appropriate, especially if cases involved stalking. Not all people needed refuge accommodation, but it was crucial to provide help and support. It was correct that people could approach any council to receive support to escape domestic abuse.
  • Becky Hale updated on the recommissioning of domestic abuse support services, including accommodation-based support. Additional financial support had been received and it was timely in response to the Bill, to consider how best to use the resources to support people. Further engagement on this would take place in the months ahead.
  • The pathway project presented an opportunity to assess the wider needs of homeless people when they were in hospital. However, pressures on acute hospitals required an early discharge. It was questioned if there was a ‘step down’ care solution.
  • The pathway needs assessment sought to quantify the number of people considered to be homeless, who accessed acute services. There were real challenges. A hospital liaison service was working across acute trusts and housing, providing an intermediary service to tackle the challenges which may prevent discharge and building support for those individuals.
  • Councillor Bell asked if people could be discharged to a setting, rather than returning to the streets. There were step down care facilities, but there still needed to be longer term options. Districts and boroughs did all they could to accommodate individuals, but people could have additional challenges. There were excellent partnership arrangements, including with the community and voluntary sector.
  • Councillor Beaumont spoke about future resource challenges associated with WCC cuts of £1m to housing related support, which would impact on homelessness prevention. He quoted from a report on the redesign of the support offer and sought a detailed response on how this cut would be overcome by other means. The Chair responded that a review would take place of this service and enable reassessment of the funding required for it. A pause had been included in the budget for two years. He added that there would be wide involvement in the review, that it was not a statutory service and the service needed to align with the other work referred to in this item.
  • There was pride in the collaborative work across authorities, to address homelessness. The budget provision needed to be monitored closely to ensure services could be delivered in the future.
  • Via the meeting chat dialogue, Dianne Whitfield of CWPT recognised the true partnership approach, thanking officers for the clear and moving presentation.
  • Chris Bain advised that Healthwatch’s final report on its Rights Access Project (rights of homeless people to access primary care) was available on its website.




That the Health and Wellbeing Board:


  1. Notes the contents of the report.


  1. Agrees to the strategic vision and recommendations within the strategy; Preventing Homelessness in Warwickshire: a multiagency approach.


Supports the Homelessness Strategic Group to develop the action plan underpinning these recommendations and continues to work towards preventing homelessness in 2021/22.

Supporting documents: