Evidence base for preventing homelessness and rough sleeping strategy

15. Previous homelessness strategies

Chiltern and South Bucks Councils developed a joint housing and homelessness strategy 2018 – 2021. This identified the cost of housing in the area as a key challenge, leading to higher numbers of people seeking help from the shared housing service. Limited land availability and high costs also restrict the number of affordable new homes bought forward. Amongst the key challenges identified was implementing the requirements of the Homelessness Reduction Act and developing more temporary accommodation options to reduce the use of B&B and also reduce the cost to the council. The strategy also noted the problem of other local authorities using accommodation in the area for ‘out of area’ placement of homeless households; because they are often making payments to landlords for accommodating a homeless client, this can increase the expectations of landlords when housing a homeless client from Bucks Council. The strategy also predicted a significant increase in demand for temporary accommodation (TA) as a result of the HRA. The strategy includes a TA framework, a clear and transparent process for securing and allocating TA.

Wycombe’s previous homelessness strategy covered 2014/2019. Priorities include:

  • Increased options to prevent homelessness
  • Improvements to existing TA
  • Disposal of less appropriate TA, proceeds to be invested in new TA
  • Closer working with private landlords; integrating relevant services
  • Actions to tackle rough sleeping
  • Better quality self-serve housing advice • Investigating the feasibility of a social lettings agency
  • Targeting services for particular client groups where appropriate

Aylesbury Vale housing and homelessness strategy runs 2019 – 2022. Key achievements from the previous strategy (2014 – 2017) include:

  • Delivery of 1200 new affordable homes (to March 2018)
  • Revised nomination agreements to improve nominations for vulnerable households
  • A building resilience project to seek out those at risk of homelessness at earliest opportunity
  • Funding awards to local partners to encourage innovation and support work on winter emergency provision/severe weather emergency provision
  • Hosting workshops by the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance to build new accreditation scheme
  • Increased engagement with partners including a quarterly homelessness prevention forum.

The key objectives for the new strategy are:

  • Prevent and reduce homelessness and rough sleeping
  • Continue to facilitate and maximise the supply of affordable housing
  • Respond to the on-going challenges of welfare reform
  • Contribute to the improvement of health and wellbeing services for those at risk of becoming homeless

Not surprisingly, the three strategies have a good deal in common, with some differences of emphasis, which reflect both the varied geography of the areas, and differing levels and types of need. They also reflect the different times when the strategies were developed, with different local and national priorities at the time.

Areas to be carried forward into the new strategy might include:

  • Maximising supply of affordable housing
  • Ensuring appropriate supply of TA to match need and ensure value for money
  • Increased options to prevent homelessness
  • Improved access to the private rented sector
  • High-quality self-serve housing advice
  • Investigating the feasibility of a local lettings agency
  • Preventing rough sleeping
  • Responding to legislative change on domestic abuse
  • Continuing engagement with partners.