To consider the report of the Director (NE) (reference 19/153) attached
The Cabinet considered a report by the Director (NE) (Reference 19/153) in respect of a Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy for the period 2019-23. Members were advised that the strategy, which was a legal obligation, included a review of levels of homelessness within the Borough as well as key actions required over coming months to effectively meet future challenges. Nationally, there had been a 42% increase in homeless households since 2010, a 70% increase in households living in temporary accommodation, with local authority spending on temporary accommodation for homeless people having risen to £1 billion a year. Locally, despite reductions in homeless households from 142 in 2010/11 to 109 in 2017/18, numbers overall had been steadily rising in the last 18 months. Of note was that the Council’s duties towards homeless people were considerably increased in 2018 through the implementation of the Homeless Reduction Act. Overall the Act extended the duties of the Council to a much broader group than it historically had a duty to help. Further challenges identified in the strategy were the heavy reliance on the private rented sector coupled with the impact of Universal Credit making landlords more risk averse, increased levels of rough sleeping, and the effect of wider public sector funding cuts, in particular the impact of future commissioning decisions by North Yorkshire County Council regarding housing related support services for the homeless and young people. In this regard, the Housing Manager advised that the County Council was intending to reduce funding for the Young Persons’ Pathway by 40% - a central pillar of local services – which would have significant implications for the Council and would be the subject of further reports to Members. To meet these challenges, the Action Plan set out inter alia to sustain key prevention services and bolster local partnership arrangements, increase capacity within the Housing Options team through a restructure, reduce use of B&B and increase the pool of Housing Association owned temporary accommodation through the use of capital funding, and continue to tackle the main causes of homelessness including domestic violence, in particular a fresh assessment of the need for a local women’s refuge. The latter in particular had been given strong support by the Overview and Scrutiny Board, reflected in the report, for which the strategic support of the County Council was required. The service’s effectiveness had been recently validated by a very positive external review by the National Practitioner Support Service. In 2018/19 of the 401 households to whom the Council owed a statutory homeless prevention duty, 339 households (84%) had their homelessness prevented by the Council or one its partners, significantly higher than the national average of 53%. Members then commented on the report. The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Operations, Councillor Jefferson advised that in her position as Chair of the County Council Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee she would be raising her concerns about the proposed funding reduction for the Young People’s Pathway at County Hall through both the scrutiny function and the Area Constituency Committee, noting that Scarborough Borough had the highest number of looked after children in North Yorkshire. In this respect, the Housing Manager added that of all young people’s presentations in North Yorkshire, some 40% occurred in the Borough, and that he had volunteered to represent district councils working with the County Council to help shape the review of this service. Councillor Randerson maintained that the women’s refuge was an essential component of the service, and offered to use his position as a county councillor to help push for this facility. The Housing Manager confirmed that the evidence pointed to a clear local need for the refuge. In reply to the Chair’s questions, he added that the Council both relocated families for their safety outside of the Borough, and housed families from other areas of the country in the Borough for the same reasons. He confirmed that with the introduction of Universal Credit, private sector landlords were becoming more reluctant to house tenants, and a similar risk aversion could be evidenced by Registered Social Landlords – both shortage of supply and the application of the Choice Based Lettings Scheme were factors which meant in many cases the people most in need could not access social housing. The strategy set out to address this matter. With the permission of the Chair, Councillor Donohue-Moncrieff addressed the meeting, noting with great regret her previous decision as a member of the Cabinet to place the land at Danes Dyke (identified for a women’s refuge) on the open market. The Cabinet of which Councillor Donohue-Moncrieff was a member, subsequently revised this decision. The Chair welcomed Councillor Donohue-Moncrieff’s honesty and looked forward to working with all political groups to deliver the women’s refuge.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet:
1) Recommend to Council the adoption of the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy and Review 2019-23.
2) Approve recommendations within the strategy that have key financial implications. These are:
a) Approval for the use of £500K in capital funding (s106 monies) to support the development of temporary accommodation for homeless people (subject to further consent on each individual development that comes forward).
b) Enter into four year Grant Agreements with voluntary sector organisations to support the delivery of the strategy. These are:
· CAB – £73,525 per annum
· Rainbow Centre – £16,000 per annum
· Foundation Housing/ Making Safe - £5,000 per annum
3) Give ‘in principle’ agreement for the use of land at Danes Dyke, Newby for the purpose of developing a refuge for victims of Domestic Violence (subject to further consent regarding the terms of any land sale and strategic support and revenue funding being available from NYCC).
4) Instruct officers to undertake a selection process to secure a Registered Provider to take forward the development of land at Danes Dyke for the purpose of developing a refuge. This process should look at the level of experience different providers have in developing such accommodation, financial capacity, deliverability and potential levels of receipt for the sale of the land. Outcomes from this process shall be reported back to Cabinet early 2020 and inform any final decision on the land sale.
The Council has various statutory duties towards the homeless including development and implementation of a Homelessness Strategy and Review.