Daren Turner, Director of Housing and Investment:
a. provided a report to update Members on the work of the Homelessness Cell which formed part of the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum (LRF) response structure for Covid 19
b. confirmed that when the Covid 19 crisis started in early March 2020 the LRF set up a structure of meetings/group to help coordinate the response to the Pandemic
c. advised that The Homelessness/Rough Sleeping Cell was part of that structure and was commissioned as a sub cell of the Health and Care Cell (the upper cell)
d. described the terms of reference/membership of the cell as detailed at Paragraph 2.3 of the report
e. reported on the current position of the group which had now been meeting for 15 months, meetings having been moved from weekly to bi-weekly as a “battle rhythm” was established with the Chair immediately moved to City of Lincoln (COL) due to the pressures in the City and established connections
f. advised that the terms of reference had been changed as the group developed and its role morphed from being a reactive body, initially triggered by the letter all councils received in March 20 from Luke Hall (MP) calling for Councils to respond over the initial lockdown period by getting everyone in off the streets, now known as the ‘everyone in’ campaign
g. highlighted that the group were able to achieve that initial critical milestone of taking virtually everyone off the street during the initial stages of lockdown
h. reported on the most positive outcome from the formation of the cell being the network it had created and the partnership working that it had enabled; closely working together, in order to respond to the pandemic, had led to the creation of trust amongst not only the public bodies but also all the organisations involved in the homeless rough sleeping response which had resulted in successes across a range of areas as detailed within the report
i. reported that, from learning over the last year, The Cell felt that research should be done into why people got into the rough sleeping system in the first place and then measures be put in place earlier to prevent the move to rough sleeping
j. added that The LRF had now altered its structure slightly as it moved towards a recovery basis, The Upper Health and Care Cell had been stood down and we were advised that the Homelessness Cell should continue but report to a newly formed Community & Voluntary Sector Engagement (CVSE) Recovery Cell, moving forward, likely to be chaired by the new County Wide Homelessness Coordinator
Members discussed the content of the report in further detail. The following comments/questions emerged:
Were rough sleepers with additional needs given assistance to support their tenancy?
Officer Response: In cases of a client in care they should be receiving support to maintain their tenancy and their needs managed through appropriate services. We were now looking at further resources in supporting tenancies.
It was not fair to categorise sofa surfers as not being homeless as they did not have proper living conditions. Vulnerable clients should get help from other Councils rather than being given priority over local people seeking accommodation.
Officer Response: It must be understood that this situation was not of our making as it was controlled by government legislation. We did refer clients back to their own areas.
It was understood there had been a reduction in Housing Related Support.
Officer Response: Yes, the contract for funding this service had been reduced by £1m at the start of 2020/21 but delayed until October 2020 due to the pandemic.
Councillor Nannestad, Portfolio Holder for Quality Housing added that there was government money available under the ‘everyone in’ campaign’ and provision of ‘move on’ accommodation for homeless people, although additional funding was required for Housing Related Support.
RESOLVED that the content of the update report be noted.