Nottingham Insight

Homelessness (2013)

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Topic title Homelessness (2013)
Topic author(s) Grace Brough, Gary Harvey, Rachael Shippam
Insight Document ID 63657

Executive summary

Introduction

The threat of homelessness remains an issue for an increasing number of citizens in Nottingham.    
Homelessness can be defined as: a lack of (or imminent threat of a lack of) safe, secure accommodation that is appropriate to the household’s needs.  
It is this definition that is used throughout this chapter when we refer to homelessness.
Homelessness can be caused by personal circumstances such as relationship breakdown, family unwilling to accommodate, debt, addiction and substance misuse.  Homelessness can also be a consequence of external environmental factors such as a lack of affordable housing and difficult housing market conditions, a strained economic climate and policy reforms with knock on effects on welfare, poverty and unemployment. 
The occurrence of many of these environmental factors in Nottingham is common.  For example:

  •  70% of Nottingham’s children living in families that receive financial help from the government (Nottingham Child Poverty Note)
  •  19.8% of the eligible population (age 16-64) claim one or more out of work benefit (Benefits Bulletin March 2013)
  •  20.4% of all households in the city receive Housing Benefit and 7.4% receive Local Housing Allowance (Nottingham City Council, Revenue and Benefits)

The consequences of homelessness will often go beyond the immediate impact and have a lasting and negative impact on the lives of individuals and their families.  This can exacerbate the original cause of homelessness and/or contribute to the onset of new problems (e.g. physical health problems, mental health issues and addictions).  Homelessness also impacts on the wider community.  Homelessness in general may contribute to destabilising housing markets and have a detrimental effect on the local economy and visible forms of homelessness can damage the reputation and perception of an area.
The impact of homelessness on health can be stark; with Crisis reporting the difference in life expectancy for a homeless person compared to someone who is not homeless is 30 years, at an expected age of mortality of 47 for a rough sleeping homeless person.  
Nottingham City Council has a statutory duty under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996 to provide advice and assistance to those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. In addition, the local authority has a duty to provide temporary accommodation to those whom it is reasonable to believe are homeless and likely to be assessed as having a priority need1.  Where citizens meet the relevant further criteria under this Act, Nottingham City Council has a duty to provide an offer of long term suitable accommodation in addition to temporary accommodation and advice and assistance.

 1. Priority need refers to categories of vulnerability as defined in the Housing Act 1996, Part VII and amended by the Homelessness Act 2002

In 2012 – 13, Nottingham City Council Housing Aid service assisted an average of 61 households every day and throughout the course of the year the Street Outreach Team worked with 787 Rough Sleepers. 

Given the cross cutting nature of homelessness there are links between this chapter and several others covered elsewhere in the JSNA:

• Adult Mental Health
• Adult Problem Drug Use
• Alcohol
• Domestic Violence
• Housing
• Asylum Seekers/Refugees/Migrant Workers
• Teenage Pregnancy

Key issues and gaps

• Demand on capacity of services is increasing and predicted to rise further as government austerity measures continue to be implemented and the affects impact on citizens
• Agencies and services outside of the homelessness sector should widen their understanding of the effects of homelessness and how they can identify their opportunity to make ‘contact count’ and intervene early to prevent homelessness happening
• Widespread marketing of homelessness prevention services and information on support available is required to ensure more citizens can access help before they reach crisis.
• Higher rents in emergency accommodation due to exemption for rent restrictions leave residents feeling they are dis-incentivised to work and that work whilst in this accommodation leaves very little disposable income.
• Mental health support needs are becoming increasingly prevalent amongst homeless service users.
• There is an over representation of Eastern European people (particularly Polish) in the rough sleeping population
• It is unclear how the Health and Wellbeing board intends to have a relationship with housing and health
• There is not sufficient representation from housing and homelessness on the city’s Safeguarding Boards

Recommendations for consideration by commissioners

  • Information for citizens regarding homelessness prevention and services available for those at risk of homelessness needs to be made more readily available or marketed more widely
    • Information could be particularly targeted at the Eastern European community as well as in mental health services as these groups make up a sizeable proportion of those either rough sleeping or requiring supported accommodation 
  • Expansion of more affordable accommodation options (including schemes utilising the Private Rented Sector which are intended to divert citizens away from temporary accommodation) for working homeless citizens
  • Information regarding income maximisation for employed service users to be distributed to frontline workers to ensure they are aware of the support available
  • Introduction of an employment brokering service to assist household members rehoused via the Nottingham Private Rented Assistance Scheme (NPRAS) into Education, Training and Employment (ETE) activity
  • Expansion / introduction of early intervention services to prevent homelessness for people with mental health issues.  Commissioners must also establish and implement assessment processes, referral procedures and monitoring mechanisms between housing and health within the new mental health accommodation pathway model, and risk manage / review as appropriate
  • A cost benefit analysis of homelessness prevention through a local health needs audit
  • Commissioners should consider the recommendations which emerge through the upcoming reviews of the following services and policies:
    - Prison leavers accommodation pathway
    - Hospital discharge protocol
    - Reconfigured model of supported accommodation
    - Mental health accommodation pathway
    - Independent Living Support Services
    - Private Rented Assistance Scheme
    - Nottingham Standard
    - Discretionary Housing Payment Policy
    - Local Emergency Hardship Fund
    - No Recourse to Public Funds Protocol
  • Commissioners should consider the recommendations which emerge through the upcoming good practice guidance on:
    - use of social media and other web based services as communication tools
    - learning from the Universal Credit implementation pilots
    - use of income and expenditure models and life skills training

Key contacts

Grace Brough, Insight Officer, Nottingham City Council
grace.brough@nottinghamcity.gov.uk
Gary Harvey, Head of Housing Solutions, Nottingham City Council
gary.harvey@nottinghamcity.gov.uk
Rachael Shippam, Senior Housing Partnership Officer, Nottingham City Council rachael.shippam@nottinghamcity.gov.uk

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