In introducing the report Councillor Paul Gadsby highlighted that:
Having good quality and secure accommodation was fundamental to residents’ having
happy and successful lives. When it is not available, there was an impact detrimental impact on individuals and on many other aspects of public service beyond housing.
The last full review of the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy was in 2012, before significant changes to responsibilities for homelessness were introduced.
Bill Tidman from Thames Reach addressed Cabinet and talked about the work his organisation did in Lambeth. He said:
There was a high percentage of mental health issues amongst rough sleepers. Organisations tackling rough sleeping work well with Lambeth, who were genuinely committed to reducing homelessness and rough sleeping.
Prevention needed to be started much earlier.
Councillor Pete Elliott thanked Councillor Gadsby on progressing the strategy and was pleased that the motion at Council was agreed. Councillor Elliott raised concerns on the loss of hundreds of council homes, stating that the private sector/building contractors made considerable profits in housing. He was concerned that there were far too many empty council homes, which needed to be turned around quicker so they could be used by those in need. There were negative impacts on residents lives when they had nowhere to live, these include mental health issues, unable to work and life chances being negatively impacted.
He went on to explain that while the strategy outlined many of the issues, clearer targets and completion dates were needed as well as a commitment and boldness by the Council to end homelessness within a certain period. He said that he had some comments on the Equality Impact Assessment which he would pass to officers.
Cabinet Members made the following comments:
· The level of data collection was impressive, and the equalities impact assessment should be more closely aligned to the data collected.
· This was clearly a successful partnership approach of Lambeth and needed to continue to being clear and transparent about commissioning and working with others to delivering the strategy.
· It was disappointing that core funding from central government had been cut, which will, inevitably weaken some of the pathways.
· There were clear parallels with tackling youth violence strategy and was positive that children looked after were covered in the strategy.
· The strategy identified the right way to support people, however more new homes were needed and Cabinet would look to help with this through shaping of the planning policy.
In response to some of the questions, officers advised that:
There was a loss of 50% of funding in the last few years. The Council were funding 500 beds and had been successful in bidding for money.
The Council was required by law to do a holistic assessment when someone presents as homeless, and there were a number of wrap around services included as part of this strategy.
The Homelessness Strategy Steering Group has recently been formed and contains representatives from all relevant council departments and supported housing providers. The group is chaired by the Cabinet Member for Housing and would meet twice every year.
The all commended the report and the work of officers.
That the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy be approved.