Venue: Mandela Committee Room
Contact: Scott Bonner
Declarations of Interest
no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.
Representatives of Adult Social Care and Health Integration will be in attendance to provide Members with an overview of the subject.
The Chair welcomed representatives from The Neighbourhood Welfare Hub, also known as Homeless Café, as well as officers from Adult Social Care and Health Integration and invited the service area to present their information.
The Director of Adult Social Care and Health Integration introduced himself to the Panel advising he was a career Social Worker with 15 years’ experience in the field and had spent the last seven years as Director.
He explained that a briefing paper on homelessness had been distributed to the Panel and that the Accessing Change Together (ACT) Lead Officer would provide further detail to that end.
The Director commented that, while legislation existed in relation to homelessness, any discussion by the Service Area ran risk of them seeming unsympathetic. While each case of homelessness was a tragedy, the Service had to abide by the statutory requirements governing the subject.
The ACT Lead Officer proceeded to brief Members and responded to questions. It was explained the underpinning legislation for homelessness was the Housing Act 1996. It was against this legislation an individual was assessed for their eligibility to receive support. As part of this an individual would be assessed against several criteria including priority need and their connection to the local area.
There had been some amendments to this process. For example, the 2002 Homeless Act introduced the need for a homelessness strategy and efforts to address the root causes of homelessness. Importantly, this did not just cover rough sleeping.
In 2017 the Homelessness Reduction Act was introduced which required local authorities to intervene at earlier stages to try and prevent homelessness, which contrasted with the 1996 Housing Act that largely focussed on responding to service requests.
Members were advised that Middlesbrough had always gone beyond legislative requirements, and as such the requirements of the 2017 Homelessness Reduction Act had less impact in Middlesbrough as they were already being undertaken. One of the provisions of the 2017 Act was to afford 56 days to local authorities to find a solution to an individual’s housing needs.
Those requesting service underwent a test to determine eligibility. The test comprised several elements including if an individual could legally or reasonably reside in a property and of their ability to reside at a property was prohibited or presented a risk of violence.
Another element was priority need, which was arguably the most contentious element of the test. Essentially, this element of the test examined vulnerability factors including those who were pregnant, had dependent children or if the individual was elderly.
The assessment process did not end with the test and the Council was required to continue working with individuals to try and find accommodation.
A Member queried what provision was in place for emergency accommodation. It was clarified the Council worked to a framework for emergency housing. Members also discussed options individuals had for securing accommodation should the need arise. It was commented that individuals seeking assistance needed to attend Middlesbrough House. A determination about somebody’s housing needs could be ... view the full minutes text for item 22/2
Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.