To consider the draft South Lakeland District Council Homelessness Strategy 2019-2024 and make any comments for recommendation to Cabinet.
The Deputy Leader and Housing, People and Innovation Portfolio Holder introduced the report, explaining that the 2002 Homelessness Act required local authorities to conduct a review of homelessness and following on from this to develop a homelessness strategy. The purpose of the strategy was the prevention of homelessness, to secure sufficient accommodation for people who were or may become homeless and to secure the provision of support for those who were or may become homeless so that they did not become homeless again.
South Lakeland District Council had been working in partnership with a range of partners from the voluntary and statutory sectors to develop a Homelessness Strategy for the period 2019 - 2024. As a first step, the Council had conducted a Review of homelessness in 2018, the findings of which had been considered by the South Lakeland Strategic Homelessness Group and details of which were set out at Appendix 2 of the Strategy. The Strategic Homelessness Group was a multi-agency group chaired by the Portfolio Holder for Housing, People and Innovation. A workshop had held on 4 December 2018 with relevant stakeholders to discuss the priorities arising from the Review and agree actions that could be taken forward into the Homelessness Strategy 2019 - 2024. The key actions had been replicated within the Strategy’s Action Plan, at Appendix 1 to the Strategy, and the feedback from this Workshop was detailed within Appendix 3 of the draft Strategy. This work had helped to shape the priorities in the new Strategy which were, in no particular order:-
· homelessness prevention;
· increasing the supply of settled accommodation;
· ensuring appropriate support was available; and
· tackling complex needs.
The priorities were framed within the overarching priority of partnership working, as it was recognised that homelessness was not an issue that could be addressed by a single organisation. However, the Council could work together with other statutory and third sector organisations to help achieve these priorities. The Strategic Homelessness Group provided a mechanism to embed partnership working with other partners, such as Cumbria County Council, who had a duty to assist in the development of the Homelessness Strategy and were represented on the Group. Developing commitment to collaboration should be strengthened by the recent adoption of the Cumbria Public Health Strategy which recognised the contribution that access to housing and preventing homelessness had in promoting health.
The draft South Lakeland District Council Homelessness Strategy 2019 – 2024 had subsequently been developed and was attached as Appendix 1 to the report. Following consideration by Overview and Scrutiny Committee any necessary amendments would be incorporated before it was considered by Cabinet on 5 June 2019.
The Action Plan needed to be updated on an annual basis and would be reported to the Housing Advisory Group and Strategic Homelessness Group as stipulated in the Strategy, before being signed off by the Director of Customer and Commercial Services. Updated Action Plans needed then to be sent to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Details in relation to consultation which had been carried out were included within the report.
In presenting the report, the Deputy Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder thanked the Principal Housing Strategy Officer for her work in developing the Strategy which would replace the current joint Strategy with Eden District Council and focus purely on South Lakeland.
A suggestion was raised regarding the availability of clear and up-to-date details and pertinent advice on who to contact out of hours in the case of presentation of an individual as homeless. The Deputy Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder undertook to ensure that the information was refreshed.
Reference was made to the summary of the review findings and a query raised in relation to Table 1 regarding homelessness presentations/acceptances and outcomes. The Principal Housing Strategy Officer explained the breakdown of statistics and undertook to include the definition of “eligibility” within the glossary of the document.
Concern was raised with regard to consultation on the draft Strategy. The Principal Housing Strategy Officer informed the Committee that the draft document had been circulated to all Members, however, acknowledged the merit of a paper outlining the main points of contact.
A query was raised as to whether the Council had considered the development of modular housing. The Deputy Leader and Housing, People and Innovation Portfolio Holder made reference to such a scheme nearby Cockermouth and advised that it was on South Lakeland’s Radar, as well as the Cumbrian Housing Group’s. He advised that he was due to attend a presentation on modular housing in the summer and was of the opinion that there was definite potential, particularly in more remote areas where there were opportunities for development.
RESOLVED – That Cabinet be recommended to approve the draft Homelessness Strategy 2019-2024.