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					                                                                     AGENDA ITEM

        STAFFORDSHIRE MOORLANDS DISTRICT COUNCIL

                               Report to Cabinet

                                 13th May 2008


              TITLE:        Homelessness Strategy

              PORTFOLIO:    Housing & Regeneration

              OFFICER:      Corporate Director and Chief Finance
                            Officer

              WARD:         Non-Specific



1.    Recommendations

1.1   That Cabinet notes the progress on delivering the Homelessness Strategy
      and recent trends in homelessness in the district.

1.2   That Cabinet approves the revised Homelessness Strategy as attached at
      Appendix A

Reason for Recommendations: In order to monitor progress on delivering the
Homelessness Strategy action plan and to establish actions to ensure that the
Council is effective in the prevention of and dealing with homelessness


2.    Executive Summary

2.1   The Council produced its first Homelessness Strategy in 2003. Since then the
      Strategy has been reviewed and updated to reflect changing needs and the
      progress made in tackling homelessness in the district. The Strategy includes
      an action plan which aims to reduce homelessness and to provide support to
      those who are homeless. Partnership with other agencies is a key feature of
      the Strategy.

2.2   The Council has achieved a significant reduction in homelessness through its
      homelessness strategy, and continues to develop and improve services to
      deal with the problem, which still affects a significant number of people in the
      district. The impact of the current Strategy on homelessness in the district is
      outlined in Section 6 of this report.




                                         1
2.3    In order to ensure that the Council continues to make progress in this
       important area of activity the strategy has been revised following a detailed
       analysis of the progress to date and the gaps identified. The revised
       Homelessness Strategy and Action Plan are set out at Appendix A.


3      Evaluation of Options / Risk analysis

3.1    There are no options to consider as the report is for information. The risks of
       not tackling homelessness effectively are a failure of the Council in its legal
       and moral duties to the homeless.


4      Implications

4.1    Community Safety:           None

4.2    Employees:                  None

4.3    Equalities:                 This report has been prepared in accordance with
                                   the Council‟s Equal Opportunities policy.

4.4    Financial:                  The Strategy includes spending plans for the
                                   Homelessness Grant that the Council receives
                                   from Government.

4.5    Legal:                      None

4.6    Sustainability:             None


                                ANDREW P. STOKES
                     Corporate Director and Chief Finance Officer


Background Papers                   Location                  Contact

Homeless Strategy                   Moorlands House, Leek     Ian Young
Cabinet Report June 2006                                      Head of Housing Services
                                                              Tele: 01538 395426



Decision:


Reason:


Interests Declared:




                                           2
5.    Background and Introduction

5.1   The Homelessness Act 2002 requires local authorities to produce a
      Homelessness Strategy. It must be based on a strategic review of
      homelessness in the area and should be developed in consultation with other
      agencies involved with homelessness. The strategy sets out how the local
      authority and its partners will prevent and reduce homelessness, and how
      support will be provided to those affected by homelessness.

5.2   The Council first produced a Homelessness Strategy in 2003. Since then the
      Strategy has been reviewed and updated to reflect changing needs and the
      progress made in tackling homelessness in the district. The Strategy includes
      an action plan which aims to reduce homelessness and to provide a „safety
      net‟ of housing and support to those who are homeless. Partnership with other
      agencies is a feature of the Strategy, with other agencies playing a key role in
      meeting the housing and support needs identified by the Council.

5.3   The Government‟s Homelessness Directorate have evaluated the strategy
      and advised on the implementation of the action plan, and closely monitor our
      performance in key areas such as use of temporary accommodation, and
      prevention of homelessness. The most recent assessment by the
      Homelessness Directorate resulted in an increase in the level grant for
      delivery of our homelessness strategy, which has gone from £23,000 in
      2005/6 to £40,000 for 2008/9.

5.4   Addressing the problem of homelessness contributes directly to the Council‟s
      Priority outcomes of Decent and Affordable Housing and Improved Health.

5.5   The purpose of this report is to update members on progress and the impact
      of the strategy and to seek approval for a revised strategy and action plan.


6     Homelessness Trends and the Impact of the Strategy

6.1   In 2004/5, 353 households presented to the Council as homeless and 200
      were accepted as homeless (and owed a legal duty to secure accommodation
      by the Council). By 2007/8 this had fallen to 146 presented, and 91 accepted
      as homeless. This trend is illustrated in the table below:

                                          2005/6          2006/7           2007/8

Presented as homeless                        374            129             141
Accepted as homeless                         184             59             91



6.2   The reduction has been the result of a strategic approach to the problem,
      including measures to:




                                         3
            Respond more quickly to those who may be threatened with
             homelessness
            Ensure provision of specialist advice and support for those in financial
             difficulty
            Revise the Council‟s Housing Register & Nomination Policy so that
             homelessness is not seen as the only „route‟ into affordable housing
            Improve access to the private rented sector, and promote high standards
             and good practice among landlords
            Agree arrangements to intervene in cases where someone is threatened
             with eviction by a social landlord
            Ensure provision of mediation and specialist support for young people
             threatened with parental eviction
            Develop support services to prevent tenancy failure among vulnerable
             residents
            Tackle other key causes of homelessness e.g. domestic violence

  6.3    The main causes of homeless in the district reflect the national pattern, and
         the strategy has sought to focus service development and resources in these
         areas. The table below illustrates the main causes of homelessness.

        Cause of Homelessness                   2005/6       2006/7         2007/8

Asked to leave by relatives                      17%          32%            20%
Relationship breakdown involving violence        34%          16%            13%
Relationship breakdown (non-violent)             13%          5%             16%
End of assured short hold tenancy                18%          29%            19%
Other reason                                     18%          18%            32%



  6.4    The emphasis on the prevention of homelessness is a theme throughout the
         strategy, and 28% of those who presented as homeless during 2007/8 were
         given advice and successfully prevented from becoming homeless.

  6.5    In addition, Best Value Performance Indicators (BVPI‟s) have also measured
         the Council‟s performance on use of temporary accommodation, where the
         Council has managed to maintain minimal use of hostel and bed and
         breakfast accommodation. From 2008/9 a new National Indicator is in place to
         measure overall use of temporary accommodation. The following table shows
         performance against all relevant BVPI‟s.




                                            4
 Performance Indicator                Description                  Performance    Performance
                                                                     2006/07         2007/8

Former BVPI 183(a)       Average stay in bed and breakfast          3.25 days      12.6 days
number of families       accommodation of households which
in bed and breakfast     include dependent children or a
                         pregnant woman who are
                         unintentionally homeless and in
                         priority need


BVPI 183(b) number of    Average length of stay in shared               0                0
families in temporary    hostel accommodation of households
accommodation            which include dependent children or
                         a pregnant woman and who are
                         unintentionally homeless and in
                         priority need


Rough sleepers           The number of people sleeping rough            0                0
                         on a single night within the area of
                         the local authority


BVPI 213                 Number of households who                       40               39
homelessness             considered themselves to be
prevention               homeless, who have approached the
                         housing options service and whose
                         situation was resolved by housing
                         advice casework


BVPI 214 repeat          Proportion of households who were              0                0
homelessness             accepted as legally homeless by the
                         same local authority within the last
                         two years.




  7      Revised Strategy and Action Plan

  7.1    In order to ensure that the Council continues to make progress in this
         important area of activity the strategy has been revised following a detailed
         analysis of the progress to date and the gaps identified. The revised
         Homelessness Strategy and Action Plan are set out at Appendix A.




                                           5
7.2   The Audit Commission‟s “Core Area areas for Service Delivery” have been
      used as Key Objectives in the Strategy. The Strategy sets out an audit of
      service provision against each of the Key Objectives:

         Preventing Homelessness
         Providing a Safety Net
         Minimising Homelessness

7.3   The „gaps‟ in service provision are then translated into the Action Plan which
      is detailed at Annex A. In 2006 Government issued homelessness prevention
      guidance in the form of a „Strategy Health Check‟. This self assessment tool
      has been used to ensure the Strategy is informed by best practice.

7.4   In addition, the Strategy measures the Council and its partner‟s services
      against the Audit Commission‟s Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOE‟s). The main
      KLOE‟s informing this strategy are:

         KLOE 2: Strategic Approach to Housing and
         KLOE 8: Homelessness and Housing Needs.

      The following have also been considered.

         KLOE 7: Allocation & Lettings;
         KLOE 11: Supported Housing; and
         KLOE 30: Access and Customer care




                                         6
                    APPENDIX A




HOMELESSNESS STRATEGY
       2008/09




          7
STAFFORDSHIRE MOORLANDS DISTRICT COUNCIL HOMELESSNESS STRATEGY 2008/09

Contents:

1.     Introduction

1.1    The purpose of the Homelessness Strategy

1.2.   The three core areas for service delivery explained

1.3    Homelessness in the Staffordshire Moorlands


2.     Key Objective One: Preventing Homelessness - Audit of services: What
       is available in the District and what are the gaps?

2.1    Audit of Homelessness Prevention

2.2    Audit of Service Accessibility

2.3    Audit of the Provision of Quality Advice and Information

3.     Key Objective Two: Providing a Safety Net – Audit of Services: what is
       available in the District and what are the gaps?

3.1    Audit of the provision of thorough consistent and efficient assessment and
       decision making on homelessness applications

3.2    Audit of the Availability of Suitable Temporary Accommodation

3.3    Audit of the provision of suitable long term housing

3.4    Audit of available support to homeless people


4.     Key Objective Three: Minimising Homelessness

4.1    Using data on local needs to identify gaps and set priorities

4.2    Managing resources and performance effectively to deliver services better

4.3    Working with partners strategically and operationally to ensure that roles and
       responsibilities are defined and that each contributes to the strategy

5.     Links with District, Sub-Regional, Regional and National Priorities

Annex

Annex A: Homelessness Strategy Action Plan


                                           8
1.        INTRODUCTION

1.1       The purpose of the Homelessness Strategy

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council published its first Homelessness Strategy in
July 2003 in response to the requirements of the Homelessness Act 2002. Local
authorities were required to:

      1. Conduct a review of homelessness services
      2. Publish this review
      3. Produce and publish a strategy to address the areas identified in the review
         as needing development

There is a duty to carry out future reviews and strategies every five years as a
minimum. The guidance does note however that this may be too long a period, and
that local authorities may do this more often.

The Strategy sets out an assessment of homelessness in the district, and how the
Council and its partners will aim to address the problem.

1.2       Core areas for service delivery

In the report „Homelessness-Responding to the New Agenda‟ (2003), the Audit
Commission identified three core areas for service delivery:

Preventing Homelessness

This is the most important theme for service providers, which should:

         Ensure that services are accessible to people who need help
         Understandable quality advice and information should be provided on housing
          and related issues
         Assistance and support to help people remain in their own homes should be
          provided by the use of flexible and co-ordinated services

Providing a Safety Net

If homelessness cannot be prevented, then service providers should offer a high
quality cost effective service which:

         Provides thorough consistent and efficient assessment and decision making
          on homelessness applications
         Offers suitable temporary accommodation
         Provides access to suitable long term housing
         Offers support to homeless families
         Offers support to single homeless

Minimising Homelessness



                                            9
Service providers must work in partnership with other providers to minimise the root
causes of homelessness in the longer term. They must develop homelessness
strategies which should ensure that they

         Make use of data on local needs to identify gaps and set priorities
         Manage resources and performance effectively to deliver services better
         Work with partners strategically and operationally to ensure that roles and
          responsibilities are defined and that each contributes to the strategy


1.3       Homelessness in the Staffordshire Moorlands

1.3.1 Causes

There are many factors that can cause or precipitate homelessness:


         Disputes with parents or step parents, and leaving home after arguments
          without proper planning
         Having been in the care of the local authority, and leaving care without
          adequate support
         Having a learning disability, or basic literacy skills and lacking qualifications
         Poor school attendance record or exclusion
         Being unemployed
         Being a young parent
         Experiencing physical, sexual, psychological or emotional abuse – including
          domestic abuse and violence
         Mental health problems or alcohol /drug abuse- or a combination of the two.
         Marital or relationship breakdown
         Financial problems such as mounting debts, including rent or mortgage
          arrears which can lead to eviction
         Having been homeless before – maybe unable to cope due to lack of support
         Limited or no social support network
         Discharge from HM Armed Forces- there are high levels of homelessness
          among ex service personnel
         Anti-social behaviour, including problems with neighbours
         Former asylum seekers who have to leave their supported accommodation
          when they are granted leave to remain
         Contact with the criminal justice system, including leaving prison
         Discharge from hospital with no suitable accommodation to return to


Homelessness trends in the Staffordshire Moorlands are typical of the national
picture, although significant progress has been made in preventing and reducing
homelessness since the first Homelessness Strategy in 2003.

The main causes of homelessness remain:

         Breakdown of relationship with partner( often involving domestic abuse)

                                              10
      Parental eviction:

      Loss of rented accommodation

1.3.2 The number of people presenting as homeless has reduced by more than half
      since 2005/2006, as has the number for whom the Council has a duty to
      secure accommodation. This reduction has been a result of the Council‟s
      Homelessness Strategy, which has focused on prevention and early
      intervention, and directing resources towards the main causes of
      homelessness.

1.3.2 Temporary accommodation is available for households who have nowhere to
      stay while the Council assists them in finding settled housing. The Council
      strives to avoid use of bed and breakfast, particularly for families with children,
      or for young single homeless people. This is only used as a last resort, where
      the Council has a legal duty to provide emergency accommodation, and
      where there are no hostel places available. Supported, self contained hostel
      accommodation provided by Moorlands Housing is the Council‟s main form of
      temporary housing.

1.3.3 The outcomes of those who are accepted as homeless in the district varies,
      with around half being offered housing association housing, and the
      remainder either finding privately rented housing or making other
      arrangements. Floating Support is offered to vulnerable households upon
      being rehoused, to prevent repeat homelessness.




                                           11
1.4   Structure of the Homelessness Strategy

The Audit Commission‟s “Core Area areas for Service Delivery” have been used as
Key Objectives in the Strategy.

The Strategy sets out an audit of service provision against each of the Key
Objectives:

         Preventing Homelessness

         Providing a Safety Net

         Minimising Homelessness

The „gaps‟ in service provision are then translated into the Action Plan at Appendix A

In addition, the Strategy measures the Council and its partner‟s services against the
Audit Commission‟s Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOE‟s). The main KLOE‟s informing this
strategy are:

         KLOE 2: Strategic Approach to Housing and
         KLOE 8: Homelessness and Housing Needs.

The following have also been considered.

         KLOE 7: Allocation & Lettings;
         KLOE 11: Supported Housing; and
         KLOE 30: Access and Customer care

In 2006 Government issued homelessness prevention guidance in the form of a
„Strategy Health Check‟. This self assessment tool has been used to ensure the
Strategy is informed by best practice.




                                         12
2.       KEY OBJECTIVE ONE: PREVENTING HOMELESSNESS

2.1 Audit of Homelessness Prevention

Identified Good Practice in the District:

        Update of housing register policy: Housing register policy has been revised to
         make sure housing need is recognised so that homelessness is not the only
         route into social housing.

        Housing Advice Service: Expansion of the housing advice team has enabled
         earlier response and more proactive approach to homelessness. The capacity
         to negotiate with landlords and relatives/friends when eviction is threatened;
         to carry out home visits; and liaise with other agencies has led to a reduction
         in number of people who actually have to present as homeless, and an
         increase in the level of preventative work possible. All applicants receive a full
         housing options interview so that every homelessness prevention measure
         can be explored and early referrals made to other relevant agencies.

        Increased availability of good quality privately rented accommodation: the
         successful promotion of the landlord accreditation scheme and its links with
         the rest of North Staffordshire continues to drive up standards in the privately
         rented sector and increase availability and choice in the sector. Work with
         landlords to raise awareness of tenants rights is central to this.

        Development of a Sanctuary Scheme: Security improvements to the homes of
         people suffering domestic abuse has allowed many women to remain in their
         homes. This joint initiative with Staffordshire Police through the Community
         Safety Partnership reduces the need for families to present as homeless and
         minimise their disruption.

        Moorlands Housing: There is now closer working between the Housing Advice
         Team and the main social housing provider, Moorlands Housing. Examples
         include a Relationship Breakdown Protocol, and an Information Sharing
         Protocol to enable early notification of potential evictions so that
         homelessness prevention measures can be initiated.

        Tenancy Support: ensuring that „floating support‟ is available to all vulnerable
         tenants is key to preventing tenancy failure and repeat homelessness.
         Through the Supporting People Strategy the Council has successfully
         developed the range and amount of support services in the district, including
         specialist schemes for young people and those excluded from social housing.

        Mediation Service: a pilot project with Stoke on Trent YMCA to provide
         mediation services for young people facing parental eviction has been
         established

        Debt Advice: a pilot scheme has been developed with the three Staffordshire
         Moorlands Citizen‟s Advice Bureaux (CAB), to provide „fast track‟ referrals for
         those threatened with homelessness because of housing related debt.

                                             13
Identified Gaps in Provision in the District

      Supply of affordable housing: low supply of affordable housing is a feature of
       the local housing market, with very high demand and low turnover. The
       proportion of social housing dwellings within the overall housing stock is one
       of the lowest in the West Midlands, and limited new development in recent
       years has exacerbated this. The Council has a Corporate Priority to develop
       more affordable housing.

      Moorlands Housing do not have tenancy support officers. The floating support
       service can only help a limited number of tenants. A high standard of tenancy
       induction and follow up with support for vulnerable tenants is very effective in
       the prevention of tenancy breakdown.

      Increased levels of alcohol abuse in the District have not been matched with
       increased support funding levels. This lack of support could lead to increased
       homelessness amongst this client group

      There is a need to develop operational multi-agency working. Older
       vulnerable people, those being discharged from hospital , young homeless
       people, and ex-offenders all require formal protocols to be agreed.

      There is a need for an education programme for young people about
       homelessness in the district.

      The Housing Advice team has limited capacity to address illegal eviction, and
       police response is often unsatisfactory.

      The Council‟s tenancy bond scheme does not include improved tenancy
       conditions or links with housing benefit processing.



2.2 Audit of Service Accessibility

Identified Good Practice in the District

      The Council Connect One Stop Shop in each of the three main towns, Leek,
       Cheadle and Biddulph offer accessibility. They are accessible for people with
       disabilities. Internet access is available. Expansion of the Housing Advice
       Team gives increased potential for interviewing clients in the Cheadle and
       Biddulph offices.

      There is a range of up to date and comprehensive information and advice
       leaflets available. These can be supplied in alternative formats for all client
       groups. They cover a range of housing issues including advice on the
       prevention of homelessness.



                                           14
      There is a CAB in each of the three towns – these offer independent Quality
       Mark advice

      The appointment system for housing advice was not popular with clients or
       referring agencies due to the waiting time involved to see an advisor. In
       response to these concerns there is now a drop in service increasing
       accessibility.

      There are computer terminal access points in some remote locations in the
       District, allowing access to the council web-site

      Customer feedback forms are available, and are sent out to clients. Feedback
       from clients in temporary accommodation is recorded by Moorlands Housing.
       Housing advisers give a feedback form to client following each housing
       options interview.

      Housing Advice Customer Service Charter sets out the standards of the
       service- on web site and booklet version

      There is now a texting facility for young people & hearing impaired clients.


Identified Gaps in Provision in the District

      Customer Consultation processes need to be embedded, making them more
       systematic. More consultation needed with clients – need to explore better
       ways of communication, and obtaining client input in the development of our
       services.

      Staffordshire Moorlands has a large rural area so we need to consider
       accessibility for isolated service users, who may be elderly or disabled. Public
       transport links need to be examined. There is a need to engage with rural
       communities

      Consideration needs to be given on accessibility of the service by „hard to
       reach‟ groups, such as people with a learning disability, or a sensory
       deprivation.

      A single housing register would make it easier for people to understand and
       negotiate their way around, rather than the situation at present where several
       application forms have to be completed.


2.3    Provision of Quality Advice and Information


Identified Good Practice in the District




                                           15
      Every client approaching the service receives comprehensive housing options
       interview based on their need

      There is a range of up to date and comprehensive information and advice
       leaflets available. These can be supplied in alternative formats for all client
       groups, and are on the council web site. They cover a range of housing issues
       including advice on preventing homelessness.

      There is also a Customer Services Charter freely available, so clients are
       aware of what standards of service to expect.

      Homelessness procedure manuals for use by housing advisors have been
       produced and are regularly updated – to ensure consistency. There is regular
       supervision by the manager of the housing advisors to monitor quality of
       service.

      A pilot scheme has been developed with the three Staffordshire Moorlands
       Citizen‟s Advice Bureaux (CAB), to provide „fast track‟ referrals for those
       threatened with homelessness because of housing related debt.



Identified Gaps in provision in the District

      Limited independent advice agencies in the District – CAB provides Quality
       Mark Advice, and also offers some independent housing advice. Age Concern
       is funded by the PCT to provide advice surgery & home visits. No other
       independent advice services available in the District.

      There is a need to raise awareness among other agencies of the role of the
       Housing Advice.

      Agencies would like a directory of the services that are available in the
       Moorlands which shows clearly which organisation does what. This will make
       referrals of clients more straightforward and would help to ensure that clients
       have a better chance of actually receiving practical help.

      No recent independent testing of the advice service, need to consider a
       mystery shopping exercise to test the service.

      More consultation with service users is needed, in order to investigate the
       best methods of service delivery.

      Court advocacy service: it is currently unclear what level of service is
       available at the County Court

      Speed of response of Housing Standards services needs to improve in order
       to prevent homelessness because of serious disrepair



                                           16
3.       KEY OBJECTIVE TWO: PROVIDING A SAFETY NET

There will be clients where it will not be possible to prevent homelessness despite
the best efforts of the housing advice service and other agencies. It is important that
high quality, cost-effective services are available for these clients to provide both
temporary accommodation and support

3.1 Audit of the provision of thorough consistent and efficient assessment and
decision making on homelessness applications

Identified Good Practice in the District

        There is regular supervision of housing advisors by the manager to ensure
         consistency

        There is a Homelessness and Housing Advice procedures manual for each
         housing advisor to follow.

        Housing advisors receive training so they can keep up to date with changes in
         legislation and current best practise.

        Clients are offered advice on their housing options at an early stage, where
         possible prior to becoming homeless

Identified Gaps in the District

        Updates on housing case law need to be incorporated in staff training.

        Best Value Performance Indicators no longer include a monitor of decision
         making time, although the 33 day target is still used a maximum.

        Use of home visits by housing advice team is inconsistent.

3.2 Audit of the Availability of Suitable Temporary Accommodation

The Council continually monitors the local provision of temporary accommodation
and its availability, to ensure the current provision meets demand.

Identified Good Practice in the District

        Stepping-Stones, Leek provided by Moorlands Housing is the main temporary
         accommodation for homeless clients. This has been upgraded and now
         provides good quality self contained accommodation

        Additional „satellite‟ Moorlands Housing properties with support are now
         available, in Leek, Biddulph and Cheadle for homeless families. The number
         of properties required and available is reviewed through close joint working
         between the Council and Moorlands Housing.



                                           17
      Bed and Breakfast is used for emergencies only when there are no places at
       any alternative temporary accommodation.

      The YMCA mediation service commissioned by the Council also provides
       access for young people to the Stoke YMCA Foyer.

Identified Gaps in Provision in the District

      There is limited temporary accommodation in the district, and the Council
       uses services in Stoke-on- Trent. In the cases where Bed and Breakfast
       accommodation is necessary, this is often out of the district

      There is no safe house for women fleeing Domestic Abuse, although this has
       been identified as a priority in the County Supporting People Strategy and a
       development partner is currently being sought.

      There is limited provision for people with multiple needs such as mental health
       problems, substance misuse, personality disorders, offending behaviour,
       learning difficulties, physical health problems, challenging behaviour,
       vulnerability because of age.

      Joint working is required to obtain specialised support for young parents.
       There is no „mother and baby unit‟ in the District and no clear link with the
       Teenage Pregnancy Strategy.

      There is no temporary accommodation for people with alcohol problems- no
       „wet house‟. This client group is very difficult to place.


3.3 Audit of the provision of suitable long term housing

Identified Good Practice in the District

      The excluded families project provides intensive support which helps the most
       vulnerable and difficult to rehouse clients into longer term accommodation

      The revised housing register policy includes provision to ensure that
       genuinely homeless clients are given access to social housing by nominations
       to Registered Social Landlords.

      Increased availability of good quality privately rented accommodation: the
       successful promotion of the landlord accreditation scheme means better
       access to this sector.

      The Tenancy Bond Scheme increases the options for people on benefits or
       low incomes and helps them to access the privately rented sector.

Identified Gaps in Provision in the District



                                           18
      There is a lack of furnished move on accommodation for particularly
       vulnerable clients. There is currently no furniture scheme for tenants of
       Moorlands Housing.

      Supply of affordable housing: low supply of affordable housing is a feature of
       the local housing market, with very demand and low turnover. The proportion
       of social housing dwellings within the overall housing stock is one of the
       lowest in the West Midlands, and limited new development in recent years
       has exacerbated this. The Council has a Corporate Priority to develop more
       affordable housing.

3.4 Audit of support available to homeless people

Identified Good Practice in the District

      There is support at the Stepping Stones hostel and associated
       accommodation- Moorlands Housing employ a temporary accommodation
       support worker.

      Tenancy Support: ensuring that „floating support‟ is available to all vulnerable
       tenants is key to preventing tenancy failure and repeat homelessness.
       Through the Supporting People Strategy the Council has successfully
       developed the range and amount of support services in the district, including
       specialist schemes for young people.

      The Excluded Families Project provides intensive support for families and
       vulnerable individuals, who have been excluded from social housing. This
       intensive support regime which is based on the Dundee Project, enables a
       successful transition to a normal tenancy which is more likely to succeed, thus
       preventing repeat homelessness

      Domestic Abuse Support: Moorlands Housing employ a Domestic Abuse
       support worker, to provide support to women survivors of domestic abuse.
       Housing Options make referrals to this service.

      Female Advisor: Any woman who has been the victim of male violence will be
       offered the choice of a female advisor.

      Building links to help vulnerable clients: the housing advice team have closer
       links with other agencies such as the mental health team, and learning
       disability team.


      Connexions: The Council have signed a joint working protocol with
       Connexions so any young person who becomes homeless (alone or as part of
       a homeless family) does not lose out on training or employment opportunities.
       Any young person in this situation will be referred to Connexions and
       allocated a Personal Adviser who will make contact to offer support.



                                           19
      Drug and alcohol abuse: The Council is building links with drug and alcohol
       service at Turning Point Russell Street

Identified Gaps in Provision in the District

      There is still a lack of co-ordinated joint working with social services in the
       district. The Homelessness Act 2002 requires social services to comply with
       all reasonable requests for assistance from housing authorities and to take
       the Homelessness Strategy into account when exercising its functions.

      Training & employment opportunities: there is a need for work with agencies
       such as job centre plus to increase access & options for those wanting to
       study or gain skills as part of moving out of homelessness and or
       unemployment.

      Lack of supported accommodation for young people locally. Need to explore
       alternatives such as Nightstop.




                                          20
4.       KEY OBJECTIVE THREE: MINIMISING HOMELESSNESS TO HELP THE
         MOVE AWAY FROM HOMELESSNESS

4.1 Using data on local needs to identify gaps and set priorities

        The Council collects a range of data on homelessness through its Housing
         Advice Service, which it reports on quarterly to Government. This provides a
         continuous analysis of numbers of homeless presentations, decisions, causes
         of homelessness, prevention, use of temporary accommodation, as well as
         outcomes for homeless people.

        This Strategy uses this information, as well the detailed audit of services in
         each „Key Objective‟ area, to identify gaps.

        Consultation and joint working arrangements with partner agencies are
         another key source of intelligence for the Strategy.

        The Council‟s housing needs studies and the North Staffordshire Housing
         Market Assessment provide important information on housing supply and
         demand. The links with the Housing Strategy and other local, sub-regional,
         regional and national strategies are shown at section 5.


4.2 Managing resources and performance effectively to deliver services better

        Through the Housing Strategy, the Councils capital resources are prioritised
         towards affordable housing and services for vulnerable people.

        The Homelessness Grant received by the Council is targeted towards
         prevention and reducing the main causes of homelessness in the district. Pilot
         projects commissioned with CAB and YMCA are tied to service level
         agreements with measurable outcomes.

        The Supporting People Strategy has identified and begun to address
         supported housing priorities in the district, including young people and
         domestic violence.

        The Council has a rigorous performance management culture, and processes
         in place to measure performance against outcomes.

        The National Indicator for temporary accommodation is being considered as
         part of the current Local Area Agreement for Staffordshire. The Council
         reported a very low baseline figure for use of temporary accommodation in
         2004, which is difficult to reduce on further. However, there is a clear
         commitment by the Council, set out in this Strategy, to minimise use of Bed
         and Breakfast and other temporary accommodation.

4.3. Working with partners strategically and operationally to ensure that roles
and responsibilities are defined and that each contributes to the strategy


                                             21
   Joint work with partner agencies is crucial to the success of the Strategy. The
    role of the Homelessness Forum was reviewed in 2006 and members agreed
    to remain involved through regular briefings on the delivery of the Strategy
    and through involvement is specific projects.

   A Strategy Review Group is being established in 2008 to oversee delivery of
    the Strategy and stakeholder involvement.

   The Council is engaged the development and delivery of the sub-regional
    Homelessness Strategy, and ensure that other local and sub-regional
    strategies are informed by the Homelessness Strategy.

   A programme of training for all partner agencies involved in homelessness is
    being delivered by the Council in 2008/2009.

   There is a need to develop strategic multi-agency working. Older vulnerable
    people, those being discharged from hospital, young homeless people, and
    ex-offenders all require formal protocols to be agreed.

   The Housing Advice Team has provides a named link worker with various
    partner organisations on an operational level to reinforce good working
    relationships for the benefit of clients.

   The Council will contribute to the development of the Children‟s agenda
    through the Children‟s Trust, and operationally through the Common
    Assessment Framework and child protection protocols.

   The Housing Advice Team is closely involved with the Staffordshire
    Moorlands Domestic Abuse Forum. This multi agency group is concerned,
    among other priorities, to ensure that survivors of domestic abuse receive a
    co-ordinated response from agencies.

   There is a need for improved joint working with police to tackle illegal eviction.




                                        22
        5       Links with District, Sub-Regional, Regional and National Priorities


                         NATIONAL CONTEXT                                                             REGIONAL CONTEXT
Central government:
Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities                            West Midlands Regional Homelessness Strategy
More than a roof: a report into tackling homelessness                          West Midlands Housing Strategy
Homelessness Strategies: a good practice handbook                              West Midlands Economic Strategy
Homelessness Act 2002                                                          Regional Planning Guidance
Housing Act 2004
Homelessness Strategies: Moving Forward
Local Authorities‟ Homelessness Strategies : Evaluation and Good Practice

Association of London Government:
Homelessness Strategies and Good Practice
                                                                   Staffordshire Moorlands
Audit Commission:                                                  Homelessness Strategy
Homelessness: Responding to the New Agenda
KLOE ( Key Lines of Enquiry) 2,7,8,30
Best Value Performance Indicators

                      SUB-REGIONAL CONTEXT                                                              LOCAL CONTEXT

North Housing Market Area Sub-regional Homelessness Strategy Action            SMDC Corporate Plan
Plan                                                                           SMDC Housing Strategy 2007-11
Staffordshire Supporting People Strategy 2005-2010                             Staffordshire Moorlands Community Strategy 2003-2010
Staffordshire Supporting People Strategic Reviews                              Health Improvement Plan
Peak District Rural Development Partnership                                    Community Safety Strategy
North Staffordshire Gypsy and Traveller interagency group                      Staffordshire Moorlands Local Strategic Partnership (LSP)
                                                                               LSP Social Inclusion Strategy 2006-2010
                                                                               LSP Older People’s Groups
                                                                               SMDC Performance Indicators and Targets
                                                                               Domestic Abuse Forum
                                                                               Housing Needs Surveys




                                                                                  23
                                                                                                                                                   ANNEX A
                                                                           Action Plan
         Objective /                           Description                     Complete     Officer               Outcomes/Measures
     Key Line of Enquiry                                                         By        leading

Develop early intervention and   Joint working/information sharing            March 2009    HNO       Agreement in to be in place with County
advice for young people          arrangement to be developed.                                         Council ensuring full joint assessment for all
                                                                                                      homeless young people

           KLOE 2                Explore ways to deliver early options &       September   HPSM       Programme started, outcomes to be agreed
           KLOE 8                homelessness advice via education               2008                 with provider
                                 programmes/Youth workers /
                                 Connexions/ peer groups/YMCA


Reduce homelessness among        Review and evaluate YMCA mediation            May 2008    HPSM       Service Level Agreement in place with
young people                     service.                                                             provider including target to intervene with at
                                                                                                      least 30 cases.

           KLOE 2                Review use of home visits to maximise         September   HPSM       New procedural guidance in place
           KLOE 8                effectiveness in prevention &                   2008
                                 investigation


Improve access to private        Publicise & promote rent bond scheme.        March 2009   HPSM       25 tenancy bonds issued
rented sector

                                 Develop bond scheme to include                September    HNO       Enhanced scheme in place
                                 improvements for tenants and landlords          2008
           KLOE 2
           KLOE 8                Increase membership of Landlord              March 2009   HPSM       Target : 60 members
                                 Accreditation Scheme.

                                 Promote good practice among landlords         September    HNO       Website improved
                                 and good tenancy relations                      2008                 Landlord open evening held




                                                                               24
         Objective /                           Description                 Complete      Officer              Outcomes/Measures
     Key Line of Enquiry                                                     By         leading

Reduce homelessness from         Promote good practise among RSL‟s to      September     HNO       Relationship Breakdown policy adopted by all
relationship breakdown           deal with relationship breakdown as an      2008                  RSL‟s
                                 alternative to homelessness and to make
           KLOE 2                best use of existing housing stock.
           KLOE 8


Early intervention for clients   Review and evaluate CAB service            April/May   HPSM       SLA in place including targets for case
with financial difficulties      including Court advocacy                     2008                 number and outcomes.
                                                                                                   40 referrals for money advice in 2008/2009
                                                                                                   Court advocacy service available
          KLOE 2
          KLOE 8



Increase options for people      Review of Sanctuary Scheme, agreement     May 2008     HPSM       Re-launch of scheme
subject to Domestic Violence     with new contractor

                                 Development of refuge / safe house.       March 2009    HHS       Development partners and site identified
         KLOE 2
         KLOE 8


Help vulnerable clients to       Promote take up of floating support to    March 2009    HNO       All vulnerable RSL or private tenant offered
maintain tenancies by linking    prevent tenancy breakdown and repeat                              FS
in to support services           homelessness.

                                 Extend excluded families project to 6     December      HNO       Supporting People funding secured and
                                 units                                       2008                  service extended
           KLOE 2                And seek funding to link to family
           KLOE 8                intervention service
           KLOE 11




                                                                           25
         Objective /                          Description                   Complete      Officer              Outcomes/Measures
     Key Line of Enquiry                                                      By         leading

Help to support furniture      Establish local scheme in partnership with   May 2008      HNO       20 referrals completed by Mach 2009
scheme                         Moorlands Housing


          KLOE 8



Working with partners to       Establish multi-agency Homeless              September     HNO       Group to meet quarterly and oversee delivery
deliver the Homelessness       Strategy Review Group                          2008                  of the Strategy
Strategy

          KLOE 2
          KLOE 8


Raise awareness and            Deliver training programme for all           March 2009   HPSM       Training programme complete
understanding of               operational staff in partner agencies
homelessness and housing       involved in homelessness
advice service with partners


         KLOE 2


Reduce homelessness among      Agree joint working and information          March 2009    HNO       Formal protocols in place with relevant
vulnerable adults              sharing protocols with partner agencies                              agencies
                               for ex-offenders, older vulnerable people,
        KLOE 2                 those being discharged from hospital
        KLOE 8
        KLOE 11




                                                                            26
         Objective /                        Description                  Complete     Officer              Outcomes/Measures
     Key Line of Enquiry                                                   By        leading

Reduce homelessness among     Improve working practices to respond to    May 2008    HPSM       Housing Standards same day response to
private tenants               illegal eviction and serious disrepair.                           serious disrepair (causing homelessness) in
                                                                                                place
        KLOE 8
                                                                         September   HPSM
                                                                           2008                 Agreement in place with police


                                                                         May 2008    HPSM       Prosecution considered, and where possible,
                                                                                                pursued for all reported illegal evictions


Provide high quality advice   Assess quality of Housing Advice Service   September   HPSM       Evaluation report produced, any
and information               through customer consultation and            2008                 improvements identified fed into
                              „mystery shopping‟                                                homelessness Strategy review group
     KLOE 30




   KEY: HHS = Head of Housing Services
        HPSM = Housing Policy & Standards Manager
        HNO = Housing Needs Officer




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