Agenda item

Homelessness Update - Everyone In


The report was presented by Ben Tovey.


The Committee queried where the Stifford Clays B&B was as there were no B&Bs in that area. Officers confirmed that the name of the B&B was called Stifford Clays Farmhouse B&B.


Councillor Fletcher commented that the service did not seem to be prepared for people who were about to become homeless. He felt there needed to be better collaboration between the relevant council teams. He asked what improvements had been made in the service and whether the service asked people to find a second job to prevent homelessness. Ben Tovey answered that there were cases where people had to be placed in temporary accommodation before they became homeless. The service supported people at risk if the service was made aware and aimed to help people to stay in their current accommodation. He said that the service had restructured since the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 and that there was a government funded Employment Officer to help people into more secure jobs to prevent them from becoming homeless. He explained that it was part of the Council’s duty to refer a person at risk of homelessness within 56 days to refer the person to the service.


Carol Purser mentioned that there had been cases where families were told to wait for an eviction notice. Ben Tovey explained that the first notice of eviction enabled the Council a few months to start work on the case and that the eviction process was long.


The Committee raised issues of staff training, contacting the homeless service and queried the staff turnover in the service. Ben Tovey explained that when he had joined the team, the majority of the team had been agency staff with a turnover of 40 staff members in 18 months. However, the team in place now was permanent and highly trained but would have more training. He said that there was always a staff member on duty at night.


The Chair sought clarification on whether there were enough funds to support the homelessness issues and if this had put a pressure on the Housing Revenue Account (HRA). Ben Tovey explained that the government had covered the shortfall the previous and current year but would not be covering it in the next year. He said that the service would not be able to afford the high amounts seen during Covid-19 and this was why the service’s ambition was to buy more stock.


The Chair thanked the service for their work during Covid-19 and in finding a home for the homeless. She noted that voluntary groups, community groups, youth officers and individual residents had supported people during the pandemic and thanked them for their hard work as well. She asked how many street homeless were still on the streets and whether this had increased since Covid-19. She said that she was aware that some of the homeless may not wish to be accommodated. Ben Tovey said that the homelessness situation had been worse before the ‘Everyone In’ scheme had launched. There was a period where there was no one on the streets but recently, there was an increase in reports and some were of people sleeping in cars but would move on to another area and of street beggars but not necessarily homeless. At the moment, there were currently five rough sleepers which the service was supporting. He said that there were some people who had presented themselves to a number of authorities to try to get housing as well.




Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee were asked to note and comment on the contents of this update report.


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