Agenda item

Preventing Homelessness in Warwickshire Report - a multi-agency approach

The Board is asked to note and support the content of the report and endorse the ongoing review of the action plan.


The Board received a report and presentation from Isher Kehal (xx), and Angela Coates (Director of Housing at North Warwickshire Borough Council), which updated them on key actions for each workstream of the action plan developed to reduce homelessness in Warwickshire. 


Angela Coates addressed the meeting and outlined how far authorities had come by working together to tackle difficult housing issues.  She explained that the presentation would outline the progress made on the strategy that was signed off previously.  She also welcomed feedback on how the Board would like this to connect into future workstreams.


The presentation entitled Preventing Homelessness in Warwickshire: a multi-agency approach, 2021-2023’ included:


·       Background from the first conference in October 2018 to the Preventing Homelessness in Warwickshire Strategy endorsed in March 2021;

·       The Partners Involved;

·       An overview of Homelessness and Health services including support for the physical and emotional health of rough sleepers;

·       Work being undertaken to assist with Financial Inclusion including support to maximise income, managing debt and energy bills across the District and Borough Councils;

·       Homelessness and Young People;

·       Homelessness and Domestic Abuse;

·       Homelessness and Offenders; and

·       Next Steps including the approach to deliver strategic priorities and future refreshes of the Strategy and Action Plans.


Angela Coates explained that partners had pulled together to deliver services on the ground with much better collaboration with a real focus around prisons and rehabilitation.  She advised that the use of temporary accommodation had reduced in Warwickshire but there were still a number of challenges to be faced with rents increasing in the private sector and residents struggling on lower incomes.


Angela Coates expressed that a good relationship had been built with the resettlement board in relation to citizens fleeing Ukraine and those seeking asylum but stressed that this was an additional group that wanted to access the private rented sector and social housing.  She went on to outline the potential difficulties if Housing Related Support was lost which was a threat to supported housing and the current mechanism.  Angela concluded by commending her colleagues and as the Chair of the Strategy Group, requested the Board’s support to continue with the focus outlined.


The Chair applauded this work as a wonderful example of partnership working which was very encouraging.


Councillor Roodhouse recognised the issues relating to domestic abuse and highlighted that male suffering was more visible on the public radar than before.  He recognised the importance of joined up working with the use of clear data and referred to the level of positive work being carried out in his own constituency in Rugby, which was well appreciated.


Councillor Judy Falp thanked the officers for including case studies in their report which clearly showed how these issues impacted on residents.  She queried what else local authorities could do to work with private landlords and provided examples of residents desperate for help with poor living conditions or unaffordable rent.  Councillor Falp asked for confirmation as to whether officers were working with social landlords and raised a concern about the demand for a month’s rent in advance, which many could not afford.


Councillor Jo Barker spoke in her capacity as Stratford District Council representative and advised that there had been no reports of rough sleepers in Stratford last month.  She referred to the Fred Winter centre which was doing a great job and recognised that there could be a bigger problem in this area of the County if funding had not been secured through the County Council. 


Russell Hardy (SWFT and George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust) fully supported the work being done and thanked the officers for bringing to life the difficulties being endured by residents.  He felt that the multi-agency examples demonstrated were powerful and the ICS had made a real impact. 


The Chair reminded the meeting that access to GP’s for homeless people was being worked on.


Angela Coates explained that many cases were complex whilst some solutions were simpler with people needed less support.  She highlighted the national focus on private landlords but recognised that whilst it was difficult to control rent increases, officers could assist with regard to living conditions.  In response to Councillor Falp’s query, Angela Coates advised that whilst social landlords were not mentioned directly, officers would be working with them and expected them to stand alongside authorities to address issues.  In relation to the demand for a month’s rent in advance, it was noted that this was a difficult issue but there should always be flexibility and this came back to strong case management and the work of support officers.


With regard to the comments made about Housing Related Support, Angela Coates agreed that sustaining people in their own homes was critical and, whilst the pressure on budgets was understood, noted that it would be difficult to sustain tenancies without it.


The Chair thanked the officers for their presentation and commended the work undertaken so far.  She asked that they keep going with this importance area of work and update the Board again at an appropriate future point.


Resolved that


1)    the content of the report is supported and noted; and

the ongoing review of the action plan is endorsed.

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