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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection): 7th September 2011

 

Report of the Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services

 

Homelessness Leasing Scheme

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To update and inform Members on the progress and success of the Homelessness Leasing Scheme and to expand the scheme in excess of the original 10 properties identified within the pilot.

Recommendations

1.             That Scrutiny note the progress being made with the Homelessness Leasing Scheme

2.             That Scrutiny refers the report to Cabinet supporting an increase to the number of properties on the Scheme from 10 to 30, with the flexibility to add additional properties in the future should the Scheme continue its success and demand continues.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             So that Scrutiny is informed of the current success of the Homelessness Leasing Scheme.

2.             For Executive decision and to ensure that the Scheme can expand to meet identified needs.  

Background

2.             Over recent years there has been an increase in the pressures on the temporary accommodation options available in the Vale of Glamorgan. This comes mainly from single people aged under 25 years old who are adversely affected by the current Housing Benefit restrictions and for whom the statutory homelessness route is the most appropriate.

3.             The temporary accommodation options are limited to the hostel (Ty Iolo) which has 21 rooms - 5 of which are dedicated for young people aged 16/17 years old, 1 specifically for disabled clients and the rest prioritised for households with children, 2 shared houses for single people, spot purchase of Bed and Breakfast placements and Homelessness Leasing. The majority of this accommodation is permanently used due to the limited availability of move on accommodation.

4.             To reduce the use and spend on Bed and Breakfast accommodation approval was granted for a pilot Homelessness Leasing Scheme (Cabinet Meeting reference C3113, held 4th July 2007) with 10 properties privately owned but managed by Hafod Housing Association and used for homeless nominations from the Council.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.             Hafod have successfully obtained 10 properties onto the Scheme, which are mainly single person accommodation and which, from inception, have been filled continuously.

6.             The Scheme reflects the objective in the Housing Strategy 2007-2012 which is to 'ensure the adequate supply of appropriate support and accommodation, both temporary and permanent'.

7.             An issue likely to cause an increase in homelessness among single people is the forthcoming Welfare Reforms, especially around the benefit restrictions for those aged 35 and under, which will see them limited to shared accommodation. Whilst we do not know the impact this will have on the Housing Advice Team or the demand for temporary accommodation, the main option for young single people is Bed and Breakfast placements. If we increase the provision of leased properties to 30, this will straight away give us an extra 20 spaces so avoiding Bed and Breakfast use.

8.             If we also build into the approval the flexibility to add additional properties onto the Scheme should demand require it, that would assist the Housing Advice Team in meeting the requirement to provide good quality affordable temporary accommodation as quickly as possible.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

9.             The properties are provided furnished to clients at a cost of £400 per property. To date we have spent almost £4,000 on furnishing them.

10.        Taking on an additional 20 properties will require £8,000 additional spend on furniture.

11.        To date there have not been any void costs payable to Hafod (Void costs are only paid should the Housing Advice Team be unable to provide a nomination once Hafod advise that a property is ready to let).

12.        The properties are managed by Hafod Housing Association as part of their housing management function and these costs are met through the rent charge.

13.        The Council has an Accommodation Options Officer and Assistant who manage day to day matters, such as liaising with the Housing Advice Team to obtain nominations for vacant properties.

14.        The Housing Benefit Team have provided dedicated officers to deal with housing benefit claims.

15.        To date the use of the Scheme has saved £11,336 from the Bed and Breakfast spend, and the current spend on this budget is on target despite the hostel closure increasing the use of this type of temporary accommodation.

16.        Future savings can only be estimated at this time but based on current usage, current wait in temporary accommodation minus the maximum housing benefit claimable on each property and the cost of furnishing, savings on the general fund budget of around £38,100 for the first year, rising to £46,100 in future years is anticipated.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

17.        The Council entered into a 3 year agreement with Hafod which expires in September 2012.  The proposed increase in leased properties does not require any additional changes to the agreement 

18.        The agreements were approved by the Council's Legal Team.

Crime and Disorder Implications

19.        The provision of temporary accommodation with close management from Hafod to assist the most vulnerable homeless clients may result in a reduction of crime should those clients be prison leavers as it is a generally accepted fact that the provision of settled accommodation reduces the incidents of re-offending. Shelter places this figure at up to 20%. This will then assist in the promotion of safer communities.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

20.        The provision of suitable temporary accommodation will enable all homeless clients equal access to the good quality accommodation regardless of their household type or reason for homelessness.

Corporate/Service Objectives

21.        This report is consistent with the following Corporate and Service Objective of the Council:-

         Keeping families with children out of Bed and Breakfast

         Social Wellbeing and Tackling Disadvantage

         Assessing the needs of vulnerable children and older people

         Developing a client based housing options resource for all applicants

         Providing homelessness and housing advice and information.

Policy Framework and Budget

22.        This report is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

23.        The design and implementation of the scheme was consulted with Finance, Legal and Housing Benefits Department.

24.        No Members were consulted as there are no proposals within this report that will affect a specific ward.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

25.        Housing and Public Protection.

Background Papers

Cabinet Meeting reference C3113, held 4th July 2007

Shelter report ‘Reoffending tied to housing need’, February 2007

 

Contact Officer

Mike Ingram, Operational Manager, Public Sector Housing

 

Officers Consulted

None at this time but at time of original report:

Lori Bigglestone

Maureen Neave

Mike Walsh

 

Responsible Officer:

Peter Evans, Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services

 

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