A report from the Executive Director Place, Sarah Cary is attached. (Report No:156) (Key Decision Reference Number: KD: 4809)
Councillor Needs (Cabinet Member for Council Housing) introduced the report of the Executive Director Place (No: 156) on the Preventing Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy.
1. Since 2011 there had been a 246% increase in the number of homeless in Enfield. Enfield has the second highest number of households in temporary accommodation nationally.
2. This strategy sets out the Council’s ambitions to end homelessness in Enfield.
3. The most common reason for people becoming homeless is through evictions in the private rented sector. Welfare reforms have also had a significant impact on these tenants.
4. The strategy sets out 5 ambitions for the Council, with prevention at the heart.
5. These were to make homelessness prevention a priority for everyone, to treat people with empathy, dignity and respect, to support people to access the right accommodation, to support people to plan for their lifetime housing needs and to end rough sleeping in Enfield.
6. The proposed Homelessness Prevention Partnership Board would oversee the delivery of the strategy.
7. Members welcomed the strategy to help those most in need and congratulated officers for their work.
8. The strategy aimed to proactively target those who are most likely to become homeless using special software, to enable the Council to intervene at an early stage.
9. This strategy was part of a wider Housing and Growth Strategy which would be bought to Cabinet in January 2020.
10. The new policy acknowledged that the private rented sector had a role to play and to enable the Council engage with landlords to help prevent evictions. To be able to offer help before people become homeless which was a change from previous policy where people had to actually be homeless before the Council could offer to help.
11. Rough sleeping was a particular problem. There had been some success with reducing the numbers of rough sleepers. Out of 78 people found earlier in the year 31 had now found homes. The winter shelter would provide much needed support.
12. The consultation had found that the Council needed to be better at communicating with the community about the help was available.
13. Preventing homelessness saves lives and money.
14. London was underfunded and the Council had been lobbying the government for more money for more early intervention.
15. The current service model was a reflection of funding arrangements.
16. Poor housing had a major impact on health and wellbeing.
Alternative Options Considered:
An alternative option considered was to not renew the 2013 Preventing Homelessness strategy. However, under the Homelessness Act 2002, local authorities are required to have a Homelessness Strategy that is updated at least every five years and that includes plans for; preventing homelessness, ensuring sufficient accommodation and satisfactory support services for people who are, or who may become, homeless. If we decided to not renew our Preventing Homelessness strategy, we would not meet our statutory duty. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has advised that our new Preventing Homelessness strategy must be approved and implemented by December 2019.
With the introduction of the Homeless Reduction Act 2017 (HRA), the Council has a duty to focus on prevention and early intervention, requiring an emphasis on joined-up, partnership working. Without the renewed strategy, it would be unlikely that we could achieve these aims, homelessness would continue to rise and costs to the Council would increase.
1. To approve the strategy for adoption and implementation
2. To note the establishment of a multi-agency Homelessness Prevention Partnership Board to take forward delivery of the strategy.
Reasons for Recommendations:
Increasing homelessness; a growing private rented sector which in many cases is offering sub-standard accommodation; a growing population and ambitious new housing targets mean that we require a bold new approach to deliver more and better homes and prevent homelessness in Enfield.
Homelessness in Enfield has increased significantly in recent years, with a 250% increase since 2011/12. We have seen a 74% rise in temporary accommodation rates since 2012 and rough sleeping has increased from 7 in 2017/18 to 78 in 2018/19. The human cost of homelessness and households spending years in temporary accommodation is enormous. At the same time the financial cost to the Council of an ever-increasing number of households in temporary accommodation is growing.
As such, we require a radically different approach to preventing and ultimately ending homelessness. This strategy sets out our approach for preventing homelessness, giving an overarching vision and guiding principles that will ensure consistency across relevant Council departments and set out how we will work in partnership to achieve our vision. The new strategy provides the opportunity to design and develop our services to intervene as early as possible to prevent homelessness and to facilitate partnership working across the Council, with partners and with the community to prevent homelessness. The strategy aims to prevent and reduce homelessness which will improve outcomes for residents and reduce costs to the Council.
This strategy takes a ‘Health in all Policies’ (HiAPT) approach in how we propose to work together to prevent and address homelessness.
The strategy will significantly contribute to the Council’s Corporate Plan, addressing all key priorities; Good Homes in Well-Connected Neighbourhoods, Sustain Strong and Healthy Communities & Build our Local Economy to Create a Thriving Place.