The Committee gave consideration to a report regarding the addition of a ‘Rough Sleeping’ chapter to the existing Lincolnshire Homeless Strategy 2018-2021. The report was introduced by the Home Choices Team Manager who explained that the addition of the chapter was a statutory requirement. She highlighted that, as the strategy was county wide, the figures covered not only West Lindsey as a district but all areas in the county although it did serve to demonstrate the low numbers of rough sleepers in West Lindsey. She noted the pro-active work undertaken by the Home Choices team and the focus on training staff and keeping them up to date with legislative changes.
Members heard that in June 2020 there were to be changes made to the number of beds available in the district, from 30 beds to 12, which may have an impact on the number of rough sleepers. The Home Choices Team Manager assured the Committee that the district only had need of the 12 beds and there would be options in place to offer further support to those who may be impacted by the reduced number of beds available. She explained that there had been bids submitted to the Ministry of Housing for additional money, one fund in particular was for cold weather provision and they had been working closely with Market Rasen House to look at move on accommodation or outreach services for individuals who may not be able to use Market Rasen House. The Home Choices Team Manager informed the Committee that the team had found out the previous day that as part of a combined bid to the Ministry of Housing for rural districts, £607,000 had been awarded for use across the four districts involved with the bid. This would be used to fund outreach support services, intensive support packages and property support options and that by working together across the four districts, they hoped to minimise the anticipated increase in numbers of rough sleepers.
The Chairman thanked the Home Choices Team Manager for her in depth explanation of the strategy and for the work her team undertook across the district. He invited comments from Committee Members.
A Member of Committee opened with thanks to the Home Choices Team for their fantastic work and commended the team however he noted that in comparison with 10 years ago, funds available for such work were significantly reduced. This was acknowledged by the Committee and the Home Choices Team Manager however the team could only work with what was currently available to them.
Following a question regarding the division of the grant funds, the Committee heard that it was anticipated for one district to be the budget holder and that the street outreach work may be contracted out to specialist workers. There would be increased funds available for advance rent costs and rental deposits and it was hoped that despite low numbers of rough sleepers, West Lindsey District Council would be able to use the funds more intensively for those few individuals.
A Member of the Committee enquired whether those with difficulties such as substance misuse were housed in lodging houses and hostels and whether this then had an impact on housing others without such difficulties. The Home Choices Team Manager explained that there were limited options and the preference was to ensure individuals remained in their home district. The services users the team dealt with often experienced complex issues and needed an intensive multi-agency approach to assist them. She confirmed that the funding available would not be sufficient to fully address the complex difficulties of the client base but the team made every effort to minimise the impact on other clients. She stated that all options were explored, although these were limited, but the use of hostels was the last option.
Committee Members made further comments regarding the assurance provided to Councillors for the work undertaken in such a complex area and the Chairman again thanked the Home Choices Team Manager for the work she and her team were involved with.
With no further comments, it was proposed, voted on and
a) The addition of a rough sleeping chapter to the Lincolnshire County Homeless Strategy 2018-2021 be endorsed; and
b) Members be assured that appropriate work was being undertaken to address rough sleeping in West Lindsey.