Manchester City Council

Agenda item

Agenda item

Update on Homelessness and Housing

Report of the Director of Adult Services and the Strategic Director – Development

 

This report provides an update, subsequent to the report to Neighbourhoods and Scrutiny on the 6th March 2019, on the work that is taking place to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in the City. This includes the work being progressed on helping the number of people sleeping rough access accommodation and support, emergency accommodation, temporary accommodation.

 

Minutes:

(Cllr Flanagan in the Chair)

 

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Adult Services and The Strategic Director, Development that provided an update, subsequent to the report to Neighbourhoods and Scrutiny on the 6 March 2019, on the work that was taking place to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in the City. This includes the work being progressed on helping the number of people sleeping rough access accommodation and support, emergency accommodation and temporary accommodation.

 

The Deputy Leader referred to the main points and themes within the report which included: -

 

·         Noting that across Manchester an increasing number of individuals and families were becoming homeless and were at greater risk of homelessness;

·         The main reason for statutory homelessness was the loss of a tenancy in the private rented sector which had become the number one cause above domestic abuse;

·         An update on the work that had been progressed to help those who were sleeping rough in the city;

?     Describing the work undertaken to improve standards in temporary accommodation; and

?     Describing the work that was progressing to prevent people from becoming homeless.

 

Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -

 

·         Recognising that the increase in homelessness and rough sleeping was a direct result of austerity and welfare reform;

·         Noting the report detailed a variety of positive work to respond to homeless people and rough sleepers;

·         Was the reported funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) which would fund a Navigator Service for 12 months be used to support rough sleepers;

·         When was the Navigator Service due to commence;

·         What work was being done to support people who were victims of domestic violence;

·         Welcoming the tailored Psychologically Informed Environment at Women's Direct Access;

·         Was there a breakdown by characteristic of the number of presentations to the homelessness service due to domestic violence;

·         What work was being undertaken across services to support families, especially those in dispersed accommodation;

·         Noting that over the winter period to 18 March 2019, Manchester had 529 unique individuals referred to it through A Bed Every Night, and accommodated 377 unique individuals, what happened to the other 152 that were not accommodated;

·         What support was offered to people who had been made homeless from the Private Rented Sector (PRS) and their only viable housing option would be to be to return to accommodation in the PRS;

·         Noting the importance of prevention work, where would the two pilot schemes be delivered;

·         Housing Act legislation should be used during inspections of temporary accommodation rather than Environmental Health Act powers;

·         Could the audit report of temporary accommodation policies, procedures and provisions of support to families be shared with the Committee;

·         The importance of humanising rough sleepers; and

?     Did the Task and Targeting Group record equality data.

 

The Deputy Leader stated that there was a lot of work done to support the victims of domestic violence, however she stated that there was still more to be done and this was continually reviewed. She described that the Sanctuary Scheme had been developed to enable victims of domestic violence to remain living safely in their home via the installation of number of safety measures such as panic alarms. She described that work was also undertaken with perpetrators of domestic violence to address their offending behaviour through the Talk, Listen, Change service. She informed the Committee that the tendering of domestic violence service, that included specific services for BAME victims had been reported to the Communities and Equalities Scrutiny Committee. She further confirmed that breakdown by characteristic of the number of presentations to the homelessness service due to domestic violence was recorded and would be shared with the Committee. She further stated that the project that was being progressed by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s (GMCA), Mental Health and the Homelessness service for a psychologist to be placed at the Women's Direct Access Centre for a period of 2 year was specifically tailored to meet the often complex needs of the women accessing that service.

 

The Deputy Leader stated that the single most effective action the Government could take would be to review the Local Housing Allowance rates, adding that Manchester had submitted evidence as part of the Local Governments Association campaign around this issue. 

 

The Executive Member for Children and Schools informed the Committee of the work being delivered to support families and children who were homeless or threatened with homelessness as a result of domestic violence. He invited the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services to inform the Committee of the work of the strength based, Safer Together service that he stated had received a positive reception.

 

The Strategic Director of Children and Education Services described how this service

was designed to improve practice and how services worked together with families where there was domestic abuse and concerns about children. It helped workers to partner with domestic abuse victims and engage with people who had committed domestic abuse to enhance the safety and wellbeing of children. He stated that Greater Manchester Police had collocated to work with Social Work teams to identify and intervene at an earlier stage if any concerns regarding domestic abuse were evident. He further described that Operation Compass alerted schools of any concerns so that the appropriate support could be offered to the child.

 

The Strategic Director of Children and Education Services further advised the Committee that bus passes were offered to enable children to travel to schools if placed in temporary displaced accommodation, however it was recognised how disruptive and detrimental this could be to a families and child’s social and support network. 

 

The Executive Member for Children and Schools described the importance of recognising the impact that homelessness and the threat of homelessness had on families and children. He reported that a third of all families that came into contact with the Early Help Teams experienced this and they worked to support them, worked with landlords and sign posted them to the most appropriate sources of support.

 

The Assistant Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration informed the Committee that she would be reviewing how a range of services worked together to deliver the best outcomes for people who were homeless or were at risk of becoming homeless. She said she had undertaken a number of visits to meet with teams and people accessing services to help identify where any gaps in service existed. She paid tribute to the hard work and commitment of the staff in the Floating Support Service.

 

The Director of Homelessness informed the Committee the difference in the numbers reported as being referred through A Bed Every Night and not accommodated could be explained because individuals refused accommodation or moved out of Manchester. In response to homeless people being rehoused within the PRS he stated that support staff would work with individuals to ensure any potential property was affordable and of good quality. He stated that the intention was to have the Navigator Service commence as soon as possible and that the two pilot areas for the prevention service were to be announced shortly and these would be based on the prevalence of PRS accommodation and prevalence of welfare reform, stating that use of prevention methods with teams working at a neighbourhood level was important to reduce the numbers of people presenting as homeless and he made reference to the success of the Section 21 team in challenging notices that had been served on tenants. He further acknowledged the comment from the Member regarding the importance of humanising rough sleepers.

 

In response to the specific questions relating the Audit report and the Housing Act he advised that he would look into this before responding.

 

The Chair commented that he welcomed the report and the level of information provided. He stated that the Committee were of the opinion that the increase in homelessness and rough sleeping witnessed across Manchester was as a direct result of austerity and welfare reform and the Committee recognised the commitment from the Executive Members and officers to respond to this challenging issue.

 

The Chair recommended that a progress report be provided for consideration at the November meeting, and that the report included information about the levels of support offered to ex-service personnel accessing A Bed Every Night and the work with charitable organisations to sign post and support ex-service personnel. He further recommended that the Deputy Lord Mayor be invited to attend the meeting.

 

Decision

 

1. To recommended that a progress report be provided for consideration at the November meeting, and that the report included information about the levels of support offered to ex-service personnel accessing A Bed Every Night and the work with charitable organisations to sign post and support ex-service personnel.

 

2. To recommended that Councillor T. Judge, Deputy Lord Mayor be invited to attend the November meeting.

 

[Councillor Igbon declared a prejudicial interest and withdrew from the meeting during consideration of this item and Councillor Azra Ali declared a personal and non prejudicial interest as she is employed by CGL Manchester and the Chair of Saheli Asian Women’s Project.]

 

Supporting documents: