Agenda item

Halton Homelessness Strategy 2013 - 2018


The Board considered a report of the Strategic Director, Communities, which presented Halton’s Homelessness Strategy 2013-2018.


The Board was advised that in accordance with Homelessness Act 2002 the local authority had conducted a full Strategic Review of Homelessness within the area and formulated a Homelessness Strategy for the next five year period.


The Board was further advised that the Homelessness Strategy 2013-2018 was based upon the findings and recommendations of two other documents, one being a comprehensive review of the current homelessness services which was conducted over a nine month period during 2012 -2013. The other being the previous Homelessness Strategy 2009-2013, which involved active engagement with service users, providers and Members.


It was reported that the Strategic Review of Homelessness had involved active engagement with service users, service providers, all partner agencies and Elected Members. The draft findings had also been discussed and agreed with all key stakeholders prior to the report being finalised


The Board noted that Halton was experiencing a gradual increase in homelessness presentations and statutory homelessness acceptances and the main causes of the increase. The Board also noted that there were a number of client groups that did not meet the statutory homelessness criteria, but had a pressing housing need. However, it was reported that concerted efforts were being made by the Housing Solutions Team to assist these client groups, offering temporary accommodation for a limited period and facilitating a more efficient and accessible ‘move on’ process.


Furthermore, it was reported that the Localism Act 2011 had introduced many changes to homelessness and allocations legislation. In November 2012, the Localism Act 2011 had brought into force provisions that allowed local authorities to end the main housing duty to a homeless applicant by means of a private rented sector offer, i.e. a fixed term assured shorthold tenancy for a minimum of 12 months. The authority should consider the new allocated powers, which would impact upon future homelessness and service delivery.


In conclusion, it was also reported that it had been determined that the Council would be able to reduce the length of stay for households in temporary accommodation and the associated costs. Additionally, it would help the Council to avoid future use of B&B accommodation.


The following comments arose from the discussion:-


·             The Board congratulated Officers on the Strategy and the work they had undertaken to reduce homelessness in the Borough;


·             It was suggested that due to the significant reduction in homelessness in Halton, the project in Widnes for a new establishment should be reviewed as it may result in providing provision for homeless people outside of the Borough.  In response, it was reported that options for utilising the accommodation for  people presenting complex needs was being explored;


·             It was highlighted that with the new welfare reforms many families would be evicted and it was suggested that options for the future of the Grangeway establishment could be explored, including whether it was retained via Council ownership or a Registered Social Landlord;


·             It was noted that in the Castlefields area, Halton Housing Trust had properties available that they had been unable to let as a result of the bedroom tax;


·             A discussion took place on the accreditation of landlords and it was suggested that the property should be accredited not the landlord.  In response, it was reported that it was very difficult to accredite the property due to a lack of resources and budgetary restraints.  However, regular random visits were undertaken; and


·             The Board noted that environmental restrictions could be used to address difficulties with landlords who were not maintaining their properties to an acceptable standard.  The Board also noted the activities/interventions taking place to ensure landlords complied with property standards and the advice given to clients when considering renting a property. The Board agreed that they would monitor the situation.  


RESOLVED: That the report and comments raised be noted.

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