Agenda item

Review of progress on the delivery of the Housing Strategy

To consider a report by the Director for Communities copy attached as item 9


The Committee had a report before it attached as item 9, a copy of which had been circulated to all Members, a copy of which is attached to a signed copy of these minutes.


The purpose of the report was to update the Joint Overview & Scrutiny Committee on progress made against the commitments in the Housing Strategy 2020-2023 ‘Enabling communities to thrive in their own home’.


A Member asked “In 2021-2022 Adur spent over £1 million and thirty six thousand pounds gross on temporary accommodation. How does this compare nationally, considering we are a small Local Authority?”


Response - 


Nationally (England), temporary accommodation spent for the year 2021-2022 had increased by 61% compared with five years previously.


To note, local authorities were capped as to what they could charge for temporary accommodation rents, at 90% of 2011 LHA. 


As a comparison, at last reporting (Qu2 22/22) Adur and Worthing spending combined was slightly less than Crawley Borough Council but slightly more than Arun District Council. Adur District Council’s spending was more than Chichester District Council but less than Mid Sussex. 


A Member asked “A concerning number of those owed Relief Duty left this service with 52 days elapsed. Whilst acknowledging the specific challenges of the market in Adur, what more can our service do to achieve a successful outcome for more people?”


Response - 


The data showed Relief cases where ‘56 days have elapsed’. Relief cases where the 56 days had elapsed did not indicate that households had left the service but that their homelessness had not been relieved and a decision on the ongoing housing duty needed to be issued. 


Increasing successful outcomes for more people was multifaceted and work was continuous in these areas:


  • Increasing supply of affordable housing both in the private and social rented sectors. Examples of work in this area: Opening Doors, Pathways to Affordable Homes, Landlords Forums, Accommodation for Ex-Offenders, Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme, Housing First pilot, Housing Conference and Landlords Round Table were planned. 


  • Partnerships and early identification of triggers for homelessness was ongoing and would be developed further with the relaunch of the new iteration of the Homelessness Forum. Examples of the work: 


·       Working closely with Children's Services, WORTH, Adult Social Care, JobCentrePlus

·       A ‘Duty to Refer’ route for social landlords.

·       Mental Health Housing Advisor in post to work with those in mental health settings homeless or at risk of homelessness.

·       Weekly Rough Sleepers Team meeting that also case managed single people at risk of homelessness as well as rough sleepers, including ‘Duty to Refer’ cases - e.g. prison releases and hospital discharges


  • Support for those who needed it to prevent homelessness  - the councils joint fund Pathways Homes service to support those at risk of homelessness.


  • Digital tools to help identify those at risk of homelessness - e.g. they were piloting Telljo.


  • Increasing staff resources to enable more prevention work - recruiting triage and move on officers as well as additional homeless officers in post.


A Member asked “Re paragraph 5.3 - Would it be possible to speak to the length of stay in temporary accommodation- average length of stay, and how long is the longest stay for a family and a single person in temporary accommodation currently?


Noted more worthing households placed in Adur than Adur households “


Response - 


Re: note, yes this was the case, conversely there was a high number of Adur households in Worthing (52 at time of snapshot) 


They did not hold the average length of stay as requires a manual calculation and a variety of factors ‘skewed’ the picture e.g. repeat homelessness where people left and return, people whose length of stay was due to housing history or rent arrears when RSLs would not accept them as a nomination. 


A snapshot average stay figure would be produced and supplied at a later date. 


Longest stays in temporary accommodation: 

  • Adur single person longest stay:2 years 10 months
  • Worthing single person longest stay: 5 years (but has had spells in supported accommodation during this period)
  • Adur family longest stay: 3 years 2 months
  • Worthing family longest stay: 4 years 11 months


Longest stays in leased temporary accommodation (total stock x15 properties. All let to families)

  • Adur: 6 years 7 months
  • Worthing: 6 years 6 months


A Member asked “Re Paragraph 8.7 - continue to be concerned about voids and the cost is £0.5m a year. What progress is being made to reduce the number of voids and the void turnaround time, all contributing factors being already well understood?”


Response - 


The Councils had brought in additional capacity and expertise to improve the quality and turnaround time for void properties.  The current numbers were high and they were focusing attention on reducing these levels and ensuring that they achieved a good standard in re-lets.  They did know that the quality of re-let's had significantly approved. 


A Member asked “Paragraph 5.2 of the report explains the level of expenditure that is predicted to rise in this financial year. The cost of living crisis and legislation will cause extra expenditure. 

In Para 5.10 it explains that the current policy was written in 2017 and was due for review in 2020. Of course the pandemic has caused disruption and there’s been a road to return to pre-pandemic levels and the extension of current policy will be requested in March. With such rapid changes occurring so regularly, can you explain how the paper coming to the Joint Strategic Committee in March will reflect a situation drastically different to that of 2017?”


Response - 


The paper in March would request an extension to current policy and proposed a timetable for the delivery of the new policy and a new Rough Sleeping and Homelessness Strategy as well as updates on the work streams that were linked and dependent on one another to achieve the missions of preventing homelessness and increasing supply of all housing.


Given the present-day pressures, increase in homelessness and gaps in meeting the supported housing needs of single homeless people, a Housing Needs Assessment was being commissioned to enable a robust data set to inform the development of the policy and strategy and support further a partnership approach to the delivery of outcomes and give a basis to relaunch the new iteration of the Homelessness Forum. 


Whilst the Temporary Accommodation Policy was out of date, the increase of supply was a priority and this work continued under the Pathways to Affordable Homes strategy. 


Further questions were asked about Victoria road developments and current assessment of council owned properties that could be used as accommodation.

Members were told that all council assets were being looked at with the context of budget allowance and prevention work. There would be a briefing available for all Members on the TellJo scheme that works alongside proactive and prevention work.


Resolved: Members noted

  1. The progress made over the last 12 months and;
  2. The Department for Levelling Up Communities and Housing funding update.


Supporting documents: