Agenda and minutes
Venue: Scaitcliffe House, Ormerod Street, Accrington
Contact: Fiona Goodfellow Housing and Regeneration (01254 380 195)
Welcome and Introductions
10.00 am Fiona Goodfellow
Hyndburn Borough Council
FG opened the meeting by welcoming everyone. Those present introduced themselves and the organisations they represented.
Minutes from the March 2017 meeting and matters arising
10.05 am All
Transforming Lives Panels
FG asked the meeting how they felt the Transforming Lives Panels were going in Hyndburn. LH responded that she thought these were proving very successful and had produced good collaborative working between the organisations involved. JB commented that whilst she had not attended the Hyndburn Panel recently she had attended Panels elsewhere and felt they had encouraged really good partnership working with very good outcomes.
FG encouraged agencies to consider referring to the Transforming Lives Panel as an option for those people who had multiple needs that would benefit from joint discussion with other agencies.
Homelessness Reduction Act 2017
FG stated that since the last meeting the Homelessness Reduction Bill 2017 had now received Royal Ascent and become the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. This was likely to come into effect sometime early - mid 2018; the estimated period for implementation was likely to be a further 9 to 12 months.
Cllr JA asked what the main provisions of the Act would be for the Council. FG responded that details were in the minutes from the last meeting. DA explained that the Act was introduced because non priority need applicants currently received a very limited service from local authorities. The focus of the Act was to provide an extension of the period during which a local authority should treat someone as threatened with homelessness from 28 days to 56 days.
10.15 am Denis Aldridge
FG explained that she felt it would be useful to give the Forum an overview of the case work undertaken by the Housing Advice Team on a day to day basis.
In 2016/2017 1084 people requested assistance from the Housing Advice Team due to threat of homelessness and 573 cases were opened for detailed investigations to take place.
FG and DA then gave a presentation which is attached to these minutes for your information. The presentation also covered the main reasons why people find themselves threatened with homelessness and the work the Council undertakes to try and prevent homelessness.
DCLG Trailblazer Project
10.30 am Fiona Goodfellow
FG introduced this item by explaining that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) launched a homelessness prevention trailblazer bidding round towards the end of last year where up to £50 million was available across the country.
The Pennine Lancashire authorities (Blackburn, Burnley, Rossendale, Pendle and Ribble Valley) in partnership with Lancashire County Council put forward a joint bid and were successful in securing £744K over three years up to 2019.
The funding will focus on tackling youth homelessness between the ages of 14 - 25 and early intervention to prevent family breakdown before things reached crisis point.
This was a pilot project which would be closely monitored by DCLG. There were 28 projects across the country but not all were focusing on youth homelessness.
There are 5 different elements to the Pennine Lancashire project including:-
1. Rapid response, early intervention conciliation and mediation – this would be the core of delivery which was being provided by 3 different partners across the Lancashire area and which had been split into groups as follows:
Blackburn - to be delivered in-house through ‘Social Services’
Hyndburn and Ribble Valley – to be delivered by ‘YNot Aspire’ bolting onto their existing services around youth homelessness prevention and would provide additional resources to enhance this with specific focus on the key aims of the project.
Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale – to be delivered by ‘Positive Action for the Community’ which was a voluntary sector organisation having worked with youth homelessness over a long numbers of years
It was anticipated the project would start around September 2017 when final paperwork was in place.
2. Developing an interactive website specifically focusing on young people – aimed at building on the type of media young people like to use and find easier to use which would be developed by Lancashire County Council who would be leading on this in partnership with YNot Aspire. The website would be piloted in East Lancashire initially with a view to being rolled out across Lancashire as it progressed.
3. Provision of respite services or respite beds – to provide accommodation for young people to allow the individual to get away from the crisis situation arising in the family home and will offer a short break of 1, 2 or 3 nights. A provider to deliver this service has not yet been identified. .
4. Independent training units – the idea behind this is to provide a flat which will be used as a training module to help young people become familiar with the key aspects of living independently i.e. budgeting, developing cooking skills, learning how to maintain a tenancy etc. How this will be delivered was yet to be determined.
5. Multi-agency training – the whole project hopes to deliver multi-agency training around tools and interventions to help prevent youth homelessness. Two tools which have been identified so far were adverse childhood experiences or ‘ACE’ training which was about going into someone’s past to identify experiences which could be affecting an ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Selective Licensing of Private Landlords Update
10.45 am Fiona Goodfellow
FG then introduced this item by informing the group that whilst Selective Licensing of Private Landlords may not be very close to peoples’ areas of work, she wanted to give a brief overview of the current position.
The current Selective Licensing Designation came into effect on the 1st August 2012 for a period of 5 years and will end on the 30th November 2017.
The Council felt Selective Licensing was beginning to make a difference in the designated area by improving management standards and in turn condition of properties thus improving the offer for private tenants. The Council was proposing to introduce a new designation and timescales were quite critical.
In January 2017 a report was taken to Cabinet for approval to be given to go out to consultation on a new designation. Approval was subsequently received and this went out for consultation on 23rd January 2017 concluding on the 17th April 2017, a period of 12 weeks.
Following conclusion of the consultation all feedback received was analysed and a report produced which is currently available to view on the Council’s website. Questionnaires were distributed to all residents and businesses within the proposed designation area and surrounding area, landlords and managing agents who operate within the Hyndburn area and also to stakeholders. The Council received a significant response to the questionnaires.
A high proportion of residents were in favour of selective licensing whilst many landlords and agents were not.
FG then gave a presentation which is attached to these minutes for your information.
A further report was produced drawing out the conclusions from the consultation and incorporating changes introduced as a result of the consultation. Hyndburn Borough Council sought an urgent Cabinet decision on 7th July 2017 to designate a Private Landlord Selective Licensing Scheme for parts of Accrington and Church. Approval was granted and subsequently, a submission was made to DCLG (Department of Communities and Local Government) on 12th July 2017 to seek Secretary of State Confirmation to make a designation. The Council’s Urgent Powers decision was reported to the Cabinet meeting on the 19th July 2017.
The Council now awaits the outcome of the submission to DCLG.
Shelter Report etc
11.00 am Fiona Goodfellow
FG introduced this item by explaining that she had come across a report issued by Shelter in June 2017 called ‘Shut Out - households put at risk by the housing benefit freeze’.
Discussions have taken place around benefit changes and the difficulties future tenants will experience with the introduction of Universal Credit and the growing gap between the Local Housing Allowance and the amount of benefit a tenant may receive.
FG felt it would be useful to have a discussion around those issues.
Homeless households are having difficulty in accessing private rented accommodation as the amount of housing benefit a tenant may receive was not equivalent to the cost of weekly rent thus creating a shortfall. Sometimes this was only small, but it could have a devastating impact on finding and securing a new home when an existing tenancy ended.
Due to the Local Housing Allowance (which has now been fixed until 2020) and rents constantly increasing, the gap looked set to grow. Households only receive a certain amount of housing benefit towards their rent making private renting more and more unaffordable which could lead to increased homelessness and difficulty in finding accommodation.
In Hyndburn specifically, two questions came to mind, the first being that private landlords will not rent to people on benefits or universal credit; is this a problem in Hyndburn, and if so, why?
LH stated that it was the initial built in delays to Universal Credit payments that was a problem, also the amount of universal credit paid can change from month to month. Although there is an assumption that owing housing benefit will be paid, landlords assume there are very wide gaps therefore are not prepared to take on a tenant on Universal Credit. If they have an option they will take the tenant who is not on Universal Credit.
FG asked if the delays to Universal Credit payments were at least 4 weeks. LH responded that this could be a minimum of at least 5 weeks even up to 3 months in some cases. If a tenant was moving into work this could be another complication as the Universal Credit payment changes and if a tenant moves into work and then out again, if it was short term, then there was an endless change of circumstances and delays. If a landlord had an alternative option, it was not worth taking tenants on Universal Credit.
AD commented that many landlords were familiar with how to arrange direct payments of housing benefit if there were rent arrears etc. Universal Credit was another new system in alternative payment arrangements and far harder to access.
DA stated that Universal Credit was the reason for a reduction in the number of landlords willing to take tenants under the Bond Scheme. Under the Bond Scheme the Council could arrange for Housing Benefit to be paid directly to the landlord which was an incentive but with Universal Credit the Council was unable to do this.
The other thought was on the ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
11.10 am All
The B-with-Us allocation policy is currently being reviewed to ensure it meets current legislative and guidance requirements.
Hyndburn Homes is currently going through a restructure as part of the larger Symphony Group and will be rebranded as ‘Onward Homes’. The exact date this will take effect has yet to be determined.
HARV have lost a large contract recently and were saved by securing funds from DCLG.
HARV have a safe house which can accommodate 2 families and also as part of the DCLG funding provide support to families experiencing domestic violence under the Sanctuary Scheme by helping to improve security i.e. changing locks, providing window locks etc.
HARV also have funding to support families into forward accommodation if they have experienced domestic violence.
As part of the DCLG funding there is also provision to provide funding specifically for families who have no recourse to public funds.
Crossroads currently have 11 places for young people aged between 16 – 25 years. Due to the changes in funding proposed from LCC with effect from October 2017 the project will only be able to accommodate 16-21 year olds.
Nightsafe have secured Big Lottery Funding and also Children in Need funding for a further 3 years. Nightsafe were still waiting to hear about their financial situation with regards SP.
It had been exceptionally quiet recently at the shelter for 4 nights the shelter had been empty which had never happened before.
JB stated that her role had now been funded for a further 12 months.
Community Restart still had an inpatient link to support patients being discharged from the mental health wards into housing.
There had been changes in relation to their housing offer in respect of the partnership. Inspire had been working in partnership with SHE / INCAS but this had concluded at the end of March. They were now working in partnership with Emerging Futures who already provide the abstinence based group work programme. Emerging Futures is now providing recovery housing on behalf of Inspire. Currently housing is based in Nelson and Burnley and they have 4 properties. One of these is a house for women only.
In terms of who is eligible for the project individuals do not need to be abstinent as long as they are stable, on prescribed medication and are engaged in treatment.
Hyndburn housing clinics are on Wednesday mornings.
Councillor Clare Cleary
Her main concern was Selective Landlord Licensing which Cllr Cleary stated would be a good thing for Hyndburn.
Various planning applications were being received for new housing which was good news for the Borough. The Council had never received as many for years and were stipulating in any developments for housing that these include affordable housing. There was quite a large scheme in Rishton being put forward from Gleesons. A lot of people renting in Rishton are now actually buying for the first time which is good news.
The Council is currently co-ordinating a major refurbishment scheme ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Date of Next Meeting
Tuesday 21st November at 2pm
Scaitcliffe House, Ormerod Street, Accrington
Tuesday 21st November 2017 at 2.00pm
Scaitcliffe House, Ormerod Street, Accrington