Issue - meetings

Draft Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Prevention Strategy

Meeting: 13/06/2019 - Overview Scrutiny Committee (Item 112)

112 Call in: Cabinet Item 7. Draft Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Prevention Strategy pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Item called in from the Cabinet meeting of 3 June 2019 by the Chair of the Overview Scrutiny Committee:

 

Item 7. Draft Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Prevention Strategy                       

Reason:          To explore further how the implementation of the strategy will be managed.

                        To understand the cost implications for the Council.

                        To evaluate the effectiveness of the consultation period. 

                        To determine if the strategy will provide adequate scope for the borough to fulfil its duty to protect Gravesham's most vulnerable.

Officers:         Director responsible for this area

Members:       Cabinet Member responsible for this area

 

 

 

(Please ensure you have access to the Cabinet agenda for 3 June 2019, previously circulated to Members).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair explained that in calling in this item; he had no intention of criticising the strategy and the good work that had been done. The item had been called in to look at the following:

·         To explore further how the implementation of the strategy will be managed.

·         To understand the cost implications for the Council.

·         To evaluate the effectiveness of the consultation period.

·         To determine if the strategy will provide adequate scope for the borough to fulfil its duty to protect Gravesham's most vulnerable.

The Director (Housing and Regeneration) presented the Committee with the council’s draft homelessness and rough sleeping prevention strategy, which has been circulated widely for consultation with stakeholders. The aim of this strategy is to set out the Council’s approach for tackling homelessness in the district and how, over the lifetime of this strategy, the council will achieve this working with key partners.

The Director (Housing and Regeneration) drew Members attention to Appendix 2: Draft Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Prevention Strategy 2019 – 2024 and Appendix 3: Action plan for the Homelessness Prevention Strategy 2019 – 2024.

Cllr Jenny Wallace (Cabinet Member for Housing Services) highlighted the following areas:

·         Following a motion at Annual Council on 6 March 2018 a cross-party working group was established to tackle homelessness in the Borough.

·         The cross-party working group met around twenty outside agencies who deal with homelessness and all had a great input into the homelessness strategy.

·         Sanctuary have gone for charity registration and are now ‘Gravesham Sanctuary’.

·         The communal room linked to the Council owned sheltered accommodation at Longferry Court is now going to be used by Gravesham Sanctuary.

·         £1,700 worth of equipment is being donated for kitchen and shower facilities

·         Gravesham Sanctuary can be the spearhead to show the Council as a leading light in Local Authorities for helping homeless people.

·         House of Mercy have launched a fourth house this week in Pelham Road with 13 rooms. Since 2004 the House of Mercy have helped over 500 homeless people.

Following questions from the Committee, the Director (Housing and Regeneration) and Assistant Director (Housing) highlighted the following:

·         The Gravesham Homelessness strategy does sit alongside our neighbouring Boroughs strategies. All authorities have a strategy that has to be aligned with the Homelessness Reduction Act, etc.

·         The format of the Strategy will be tidied up and made more concise

·         Budgets have been increased in recent years in order to comply with the Homelessness Reduction Act. The Council also went through a bidding process and successfully secured £150,000 for rough sleeping initiatives in 2019/20. 

·         The Council has alerted outside agencies to the Public Health England fund that is available for mental health issues.

·         Homelessness was identified as a ‘red’ issue in the Audit and Counter Fraud report because of the delay in bringing forward the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Prevention Strategy. The four audit recommendations are being dealt with and will therefore no longer be ‘red’.

·         The action plan at Appendix 3 mentions there is an intention to create a local  ...  view the full minutes text for item 112


Meeting: 03/06/2019 - Cabinet (Item 6)

6 Draft Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Prevention Strategy pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

1.      That the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Prevention Strategy be adopted and published;

2.      That the Action Plan be endorsed and implemented; and

3.      That the evidence base be published alongside the Strategy.

Minutes:

The Cabinet was presented with the Council’s draft homelessness and rough sleeping prevention strategy which had been circulated widely for consultation with stakeholders.

 

The Council’s current homelessness strategy had expired and the production of a new strategy was delayed to allow for the Homeless Reduction Act to receive Royal Assent during 2017 and for subsequent guidance to be issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government in the form of a revised Code of Guidance which would contain key information around Government expectations for Homelessness Strategies and their production. The revised Code of Guidance was issued in November 2017 and the Government consulted on this early in 2018.

 

Therefore, a new strategy had now been produced setting out the Council’s approach for tackling homelessness in the district and how, over the lifetime of the strategy, the Council will achieve this working with key partners. Preventing homelessness and rough sleeping continues to be a priority for the Council and the Council will remain committed to preventing homelessness, helping people find housing that meets their needs and providing the support needed to prevent them from going back into homelessness.

 

In response to the consultation exercise, the Cabinet was informed that two comments had been received from the YMCA Thames Gateway and a Kent-based Housing Association and were detailed at paragraph 1.4 and 1.5 of the report.

 

Members were informed that those areas highlighted in yellow in the strategy and associated appendices would be updated prior to publication.

 

The Director (Housing and Regeneration) sought the Cabinet’s approval for:-

 

1.    the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Prevention Strategy to be adopted and published;

2.    the Action Plan to be endorsed and implemented; and

3.    the evidence base to be published alongside the Strategy.

 

The Leader stated that the foreword would be from Councillor Jenny Wallace as the Portfolio Holder for Housing.

 

With regard to the action plan, it was suggested that the information and advice that will be placed on the website, be supplemented by plain English guides.

 

The Cabinet thanked officers for the support that had been provided to assist with the setting up of the new facility at Longferry, Gravesend. The facility will be managed by Gravesham Sanctuary offering help to the homeless.

 

Resolved that:-

 

1.    the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Prevention Strategy be adopted and published;

2.    the Action Plan be endorsed and implemented; and

3.    the evidence base be published alongside the Strategy.