Members heard from the Assistant Director Homes and Communities regarding the updated West Lindsey Housing Strategy 2022-2024 and seeking approval to extend the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy. It was explained that the West Lindsey Housing Strategy 2018-2022 had the vision “Everyone has access to good quality housing which meets their housing need and aspiration, in a pleasing environment which enables a healthy lifestyle”. To achieve the vision, three key strategic themes were identified:
· Driving Housing Growth to meet housing need
· Improving homes and transforming places
· A partnership approach to support choice, wellbeing and independence
The current West Lindsey Housing Strategy was due to expire in 2022. A review of this strategy began in mid-2021 which determined that even though there had been a significant amount of work undertaken to meet the aspirations of the strategy, the key themes were still as relevant today as they were back in 2018 when they were adopted. This led to a process which looked to refresh the existing strategy and extend out a further two years to allow for more work to be undertaken to realise the vision. A new West Lindsey Corporate Plan would be delivered in 2023. This approach would enable the Housing Strategy to contribute to delivery of a new corporate plan.
It was explained that new sections of the strategy were introduced to acknowledge the changes that had occurred over the past 4 years and to understand what challenges and opportunities those changes brought. The following sections had been added to the strategy:
· Levelling up
· Climate change
· Selective Licensing
The current Lincolnshire Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy approved by Prosperous Communities Committee in November 2017, covered the period up to the end of 2021. The strategy had an action plan to underpin the priorities and had been led by the Homelessness Lead Officers of the seven Local Authorities across Lincolnshire. The authorities had recently contributed to a joint Strategic Lead post, hosted by North Kesteven District Council, as a dedicated resource to lead and coordinate the delivery of this associated strategy.
Members heard that the strategy was due to be reviewed in 2021, however Covid-19 presented many challenges and workstreams were re-prioritised. The
focus on ensuring the ‘Everyone In’ campaign and vulnerable people were able to access accommodation and advice throughout the pandemic was prioritised. The recruitment process to the aforementioned new post had also created further delays. A review of the existing strategy would take place to update on progress on previous highlighted priorities and shape workstreams to fit within
pandemic recovery plans, and would be undertaken by the seven local authorities in Lincolnshire.
The purpose of the review was to:
· establish the current level of homelessness across the county,
· project its likely growth (or decline) in future years,
· identify what was currently being done and by whom,
· identify the level of resource available to prevent and tackle homelessness in the future
· identify gaps and what needed to be done to ensure a robust and sustainable response to homelessness.
It was explained that, in order for a comprehensive review of the homelessness strategy to be completed, it was requested that Members endorsed the existing strategy for a further 12 months to comply with the statutory requirements.
Members thanked the Officers involved for their work and widely supported the content of the report and approach towards the review of the strategy. There were concerns raised regarding access to help from relevant teams and it was explained that each district had their own team, with the new post holding a strategic role across the county, not to be replacing the individual teams. Members discussed the need for a holistic approach to homelessness, requiring the involvement of health and wellbeing services as well as the housing teams.
A Member of the Committee suggested there needed to be greater importance attached to climate and sustainability considerations with regard to housing solutions and new developments in the district. It was recognised that the review of the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan made some steps to address this but it was suggested that the strategy could go further. These comments were acknowledged and it was noted that the review of the strategy would cover this aspect.
In relation to the statistics included in the report regarding Selective Licensing, a Member of the Committee referenced the speakers from earlier in the evening and enquired whether the information contained within the report where accurate. It was confirmed that at the time of writing the report, the statistics were accurate and that the information contained within the strategy was more generic and did not need to be amended at this point.
It was noted that it was intended to bring an annual report to the Committee to chart the progress and success of the work around the strategy, in the district and across the county.
Members of the Committee enquired as to how the housing of Ukrainian families in the area was being managed and whether there was any indication of how many families or individuals would be located in West Lindsey. It was explained that work was underway to offer homes however the details of such arrangements were still being worked out and it was such a rapidly moving situation, it was not yet possible to provide concrete figures. Members of the Committee recognised the difficulty of the circumstances and thanked Officers for their work.
Having been moved and seconded, it was
a) the progress made against the previous Housing Strategy be accepted; and
b) the revised Housing Strategy 2022 – 2024 be approved and adopted; and
c) the Lincolnshire Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy be endorsed for a further 12 months to 31 December 2022.