Report 12 The Housing and Advice Services Team (Planning,

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					The Housing and Advice Services Team

Background

The primary aims of the team is to prevent homelessness wherever possible,
averting personal crisis, reducing stress and managing upheaval for our
customers.

The team is responsible for providing early advice and intervention through a
full housing options service, liaising with other statutory and support agencies
to co-ordinate services and keeping the needs and wishes of our customers at
the heart of the service. This includes addressing the issues that are the main
causes of homelessness: domestic violence, drug and alcohol misuse,
relationship breakdown, unemployment, mental health problems, physical
health problems, high levels of debt etc.

The team is also responsible for the legal administration of the Housing
Register (Home Options) in partnership with 15 housing associations and our
sub-regional housing authority partners. It also has the legal duty to
investigate any cases of homelessness and make statutory decisions
regarding re-housing.

What we plan to achieve

Our service aims to maintain the low incidences of homelessness that it has
achieved over recent years, while maintaining a high standard of customer
care and ensuring that customers are living in suitable and affordable homes,
receiving any support that they might need to sustain this. Specifically, the
service aims to:

   •   Provide high quality advice and assistance;
   •   Provide timely advice and assistance, with maximum impact;
   •   Retain the excellent reputation of the service amongst peers and
       partner organisations;
   •   Retain and improve existing partnerships and working arrangements,
       internally and externally;
   •   Increase the awareness and understanding of the service corporately,
       to ensure timely and appropriate referrals from other teams;
   •   Process housing register applications with speed and accuracy;
   •   Keep the incidence of review requests at a minimum;
   •   Provide a service that is value for money.

How we will achieve this

We will achieve these aims by:

   •   Retaining and recruiting motivated and solution-focussed team
       members;
   •   Ensuring team members are fully trained on all issues that cause
       homelessness;
   •   Empowering team members to address homelessness prevention in
       creative ways;
   •   Reviewing existing partnership arrangements and building new
       partnerships and relationships;
   •   Training members and other internal teams on the service;
   •   Maximising potential income from external funders;
   •   Benchmarking costs, outputs and outcomes with similar authorities
       providing the same or similar services;
   •   Ensuring close working within the team through regular, informed and
       open team meetings.

How we will measure success

We will do this by:

   •   Measuring time taken to process applications against partnership set
       targets;
   •   Measuring efficiencies using the MIEtool;
   •   using an objective and accurate data and financial comparison tool to
       Benchmark costs and services;
   •   Monitoring staff turnover and sickness levels;
   •   Working towards (and within) national indicator and locally set targets,
       including areas such as temporary accommodation use, successful
       homelessness prevention and homelessness decision making times.
   •   Measuring customer satisfaction regularly;
   •   Monitoring partner opinions of the service.