A report from the Executive Director – Place is attached. (Key decision – reference number 4959)
(7.40 – 7.45 pm)
Councillor Gina Needs (Cabinet Member for Social Housing) introduced the report of the Executive Director – Place (No.73) outlining the Council’s response to homelessness in Enfield.
1. That the report of the Smith Institute was appended to the report. The report made it clear that the solutions to the rise of homelessness in the borough lie in the private rented sector. The scale of the challenge identified required a radical change of direction in how the Council addresses the needs of households in crisis.
2. That the Council was currently consulting on its draft Homelessness Prevention Strategy. This report focused on the Council’s proposed response to the recommendations of the Smith Institute, alongside a vision for preventing and reducing homelessness with the aim of eliminating the use of temporary accommodation. Detailed proposals on a new service model for homelessness and temporary accommodation, an ethical lettings agency, and a revised allocation scheme would be brought to Cabinet following public consultation.
3. The high number of poorer households living in the private rented sector in Enfield, as set out in the report together with the number in temporary accommodation.
4. The key areas of focus as set out in section 4 of the report including homelessness prevention; scheme of allocation; cost effective supply; joining capital letters; establishing an ethical lettings and property management agency; engaging with landlords and agents to enhance and promote the supply of private rented homes; and, the establishment of additional and selective licensing to drive up the quality of homes.
5. In response to questions raised, the role and purpose of Capital Letters (the Pan London Housing procurement agency) was explained in detail. The need for effective cross-borough working was highlighted. Councillors asked the questions on the appended sheet which also contains a note of the responses.
6. That preventing homelessness was the key driver. The shortage of supply in suitable housing provision was acknowledged.
7. The development of the Council’s Housing and Growth Strategy and Homelessness Prevention Strategy which would seek to prevent crisis points by getting involved at an early stage. The importance of prioritising homelessness prevention was highlighted.
8. Members noted the revisions required to the scheme of allocation for social housing, a report would be presented to Cabinet in due course following a period of public consultation, as outlined in the report. The current and proposed points allocation was explained together with the impact on those residents in the private rented sector.
9. The need to intervene and review the current model of social housing provision in the Borough to meet identified needs and effectively address the areas of concern as set out in the report. The role of Housing Gateway was outlined to Members.
10. The importance of good quality housing on the health and wellbeing of residents. This would have long-term benefits on future service provision.
11. Members praised the work of the Smith Institute and the clarity which had been provided by their report. The findings of the study were highlighted, in particular, the role of the private rented sector and, the main causes for homelessness in the Borough. The need for intervention was explained in detail. A range of housing provision would continue to be required to meet the demand for housing.
Alternative Options Considered: The primary option considered was to continue with the current approach. This was focused on prevention and relief of homelessness through the provision of temporary accommodation. Our projections suggest that if the number of requests for assistance remain at their current level the number of households in temporary accommodation and the associated costs would continue to rise.
DECISION: The Cabinet agreed to
1. Endorse the direction of travel outlined in the report to put greater emphasis on homelessness prevention.
2. Authorise the following actions prior to bringing back further reports to Cabinet:
2.1 Negotiate terms to join Capital Letters (the Pan London Housing procurement agency) to access Government funding for the procurement of private rented accommodation.
2.2 Develop a business case for a lettings and property management agency.
2.3 Delegate to the Director of Housing and Regeneration, after consultation with the Cabinet Member for Social Housing, to go to public consultation on a revised scheme of allocation for social housing.
Reason: The human cost of homelessness and households spending years in temporary accommodation was enormous. At the same time the financial cost to the council of an ever-increasing number of households in temporary accommodation was growing. The proposals outlined in the report represented a shift in focus and investment in the prevention of homelessness and support for residents to proactively reduce the number of households reaching crisis point.
(Key decision – reference number 4959)