New plan to tackle homelessness

TAMESIDE Council is developing a new strategy to deal with homelessness, focusing largely on making sure people have a roof over their head.

And a new Registered Provider Partnership is to be established, making sure those in temporary accommodation or looking for it can be better managed.

Until last month, the authority had placed some 213 people in temporary accommodation, with the average length of staying being 179 days.

But after documents admitted ‘properties and facilities used to house individuals and families is diverse, limited and not always fit for purpose for long periods,’ a new approach is being taken, with the hope of cutting those figures.

That will see priorities including supported housing, housing management, growth and development and ‘place making’ – regeneration and what is in town centres – addressed.

Enhanced recording of homelessness demand, temporary accommodation and housing placements, is also described as, ‘essential to recognise pressures within the system, to act on them promptly and effectively with greater accountability across all responsible parties.’

A report also states: “Included within the wider aims of the partnership is to deliver new homes, specialist housing, improve quality in the private rented sector and to assist with homelessness prevention.”

The council has also been asked to, ‘prioritise and undertake a review of existing policies and mechanisms relating to local allocation and nomination arrangements with Registered Social Landlords.

‘Future work in this area aims to improve transparency and accountability of decision making, with the need to generate and secure housing placements above that of recent years.’

The council’s relationship with the private rented sector (PRS) will be looked at as it assesses the short and long-term.

It will also look at getting more sustainable housing placements and accommodation options, as well its ways of supporting vulnerable tenants at the earliest opportunity and setting up a more ambitious and cooperative pathway to secure housing solutions.

The report to the place and external relations scrutiny panel also advised the council, ‘to prevent any delay in future decision-making linked with previous ambitions to improve quality and standards in the private rented sector.

‘And to connect with regional schemes aimed to promote best practice and build partnerships with the private rented sector.’

Tameside’s Homelessness Strategy (2018-2021) is likely to be updated for 2022 and beyond, with a review of strategic priorities undertaken on an annual basis in a bid of achieving greater alignment with objectives set.

The change is largely needed because of the Homelessness Reduction Act bring brought in.

And it is estimated that one in three adults in Britain does not have a safe or secure home, with the high cost of housing being the main cause of homelessness.

Regulation in this area has not substantially changed since 1988.

A report adds: “This has increased the range of people the council is expected to support and the type of services it provides.

“In particular, the Act introduced assessments for people who ask for help and new duties to help people retain or find accommodation.

“In addition to existing homelessness demand there is now a projected need for local authorities and partners to support a flow of people at risk of losing their home.

“Tameside’s low income households and single parents continue to be adversely affected by the impacts of welfare reform and Universal Credit.

“And Covid-19 appears to have highlighted and exacerbated a range of issues set within outdated national legislation in protecting vulnerable residents at risk of eviction.”

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