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Agenda item

Homelessness Strategic Update 2022

(An update from the Portfolio Holder for Homelessness Prevention and Social Housing, Officers and a representative from the Heart of Tamworth Community Project)


The Chair introduced the Portfolio Holder for Homelessness Prevention & Social Housing, Councillor Alex Farrell, the Assistant Director, Neighbourhoods, Tina Mustafa, the Head of Homelessness and Housing Solutions, Sarah Finnegan and Terry O’Brien, a representative of the Heart of Tamworth Community Project who were at the Committee to provide the Homelessness Strategic Update.


Councillor J Jones joined the meeting at 6.08pm.


The presentation covered the following areas:

1.    The national context, including the relevant governmental departments.

2.    Definitions of homelessness, including rough sleeping

3.    Data regarding homelessness, including the rough sleeper count on 3 November 2022, as well as data on the reasons identified in Tamworth for approaches to the Council. The top five reasons for approaches to the Council were as a result of being asked to leave by friends and family, the end of private rented tenancy, relationship break-ups, domestic abuse and the end of social housing tenancies.

4.    Achievements of the homelessness strategy, including the successful delivery of the rough sleeping initiative (July 2021 to June 2022) where 23 clients were assisted.  Since the start of the pandemic 143 people were moved into settled and supported accommodation.

5.    Winter relief project, in collaboration with the Heart of Tamworth Community Project, which would be supporting the homeless this winter by providing a floating support offering befriending services, weekly surgeries, sign posting, supporting day to day activities, providing places of warmth and linking with other service providers such as Everyone Health, local branch of MIND and the Sacred Heart.

6.    Homelessness Hub initiative which would be proposed to Cabinet in February 2023.  This would involve the development of housing first to enable tenancies to be sustained, with the outcome being settled accommodation. This was expected to involve partners and stakeholders to provide a tailored service to prevent homelessness. 


The Committee sought and received the following clarifications:

1.    The reasons for clients refusing help, where it was reported that at times this could be because whilst they present as rough sleeping, this may not be the case or because they want to remain where they are although where this was the case the Council would engage with partner organisations to seek to provide support.

2.    Whether the full £100,000 Government funding provided to the Council for the Rough Sleeping Initiative (RSI) in July 2021 was spent as expected, where it was confirmed that this had been the case.  It was spent on neighbourhood coaching, mental health worker and a specialist nurse to provide out of hours outreach and included a personal budget to provide specific support to rough sleepers.  For their work on this RSI the Council was identified as best practice by Homelessness Advice and Support Team (HAST).  An impact assessment was required by the Government and the Council had produced metrics and case studies to complete that.

3.    Whether the Council was ready for the coming winter and the expected financial difficulties and the possibility of homelessness figures rising, and how the Council was prepared for this. It was reported that the Council’s homelessness work was data driven and this enabled the Council to tailor their strategies accordingly and provide the right resources to tackle the issues which could arise. It was further reported that the Council was expecting an increase in presentations, in line with national figures, and was analysing why people were presenting as homeless, and resources would be kept under review.  It was further reported that there was a housing support worker provided by the mental health team as it was recognised that mental health was a factor, and this was in place to help prevent issues from a vulnerability perspective.

4.    The Committee noted the Council’s website resources and factsheets which were available and praised their accessibility.

5.    On how the local connection rules applied related to hospital stays, where the Head of Homelessness Prevention reported provided assurance that the team worked with local hospitals at the point of discharge to support such clients on a case by case basis whether clients were council tenants or in private rented accommodation.

6.    On how the rules regarding reasonable living conditions were applied, where the test for homelessness would be where it was if it was unreasonable for that person to remain in that property, and in such cases the Council would look to work with landlords to make the housing reasonable and officers would look at the situation on a case by case basis

7.    Whether the Council had a strategy in place to address the tragic case in Rochdale of Awaab Ishak, where the two year old died as a result of a sever respiratory condition caused by prolonged exposure to mould in his home.  It was reported that the Council’s Chief Executive had received a letter from the Minister (Michael Gove) and the Council would be responding to that prior to Christmas explaining the Council’s strategy and in addition a review was also underway as to how the Council approached any issues in the private rented sector. 

8.    How the standards applied to private sector landlords, where it was reported that standards were being developed by Government which would be likely to apply to the private sector (similar to decent homes standards) and that whilst initially it would normally be for the tenant to contact their landlord about maintenance or other issues, the private sector team could intervene and work with the landlord and tenant and  the private sector team could take enforcement action against private landlords including issuing advisory notices and condemning properties.

9.    Whether the evaluation figures to show the successes in preventing homelessness could be shared with the Committee where it was confirmed that these were recorded and could be shared.

10.Whether the funding was in place for the proposals to create a homelessness hub, which it was noted was planned to be broader than current provision.  The Assistant Director, Neighbourhoods reported that a two year funding package from Government for homelessness prevention was in place.  It was agreed that the broader proposals would be brought to this Committee in January for further consideration prior to a Cabinet decision in February 2023.  It was agreed that the success figures would also be provided at that meeting.


The Committee thanked the Portfolio Holder, Officers and the guest from the Heart of Tamworth Community Project (Mr Terry O’Brien) for their work and attendance at this meeting.


The Portfolio Holder, Head of Homelessness Prevention and Mr Terry O’Brien left the meeting.

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