Homeless Strategy consultation 2023
We are consulting on the Homeless Strategy 2023 to 2028.
The strategy should be read in conjunction with the Homeless Review of the district. The homeless review document shows the impact on our homeless applications.
New aims and priorities resulting from the review will help to shape the strategic approach for the next five years. The priorities for the next strategy are grouped into two main aims:
- Aim 1: To provide homeless prevention, early intervention, and support.
- Aim 2: To provide suitable housing options.
We want to get your thoughts on whether we have got these priorities right or if there is anything missing from the strategy.
Consultation closes at 5pm on Friday 5 January 2024
Key findings from the homeless review
Homelessness in the district remains high, with on average 453 homeless applications each year. In recent years, more people approaching us once they are already homeless rather than when they are threatened with homelessness.
The main causes of homelessness at prevention stage are the end of an assured shorthold tenancy, family or friends no longer being able to accommodate, and domestic abuse.
The main causes of homelessness at relief stage are family and friends no longer being able to accommodate, domestic abuse, followed by the end of a non-violent relationship.
Overall, the main causes of homelessness are:
- family and friends no longer being able to accommodate,
- followed by end of an assured shorthold tenancy
- domestic abuse is the third highest cause of homelessness - this is the same nationally
The highest household type to approach us at prevention stage is female single parents, closely followed by single males.
At relief stage the largest household type is by far single males.
Applicants tend to be of working age, with very few applications from those under 18 or over 65.
More applicants are employed than solely in receipt of benefits.
The ethnicity of our applicants matches the proportions within the 2021 census.
The sexual identification categories of our applicants are also similar to the census however, a greater proportion ‘prefer not to say’.
The highest support need for our applicants is mental health, followed by physical health and disability.
65% of those who approach us at prevention stage are successfully prevented from becoming homeless. In most cases this is due to securing alternative accommodation, similar to the national picture.
An offer of social housing is the main means of preventing homelessness, followed by the private rented sector.
At relief stage, whilst a high proportion secure alternative accommodation, the highest proportion end relief due to 56 days having been elapse and therefore moving onto the main duty stage.
Like at the prevention stage, an offer of social housing is the main means of relieving homelessness, followed by private rented.
Where a main duty decision is made, in the vast majority of cases this is to accept the main duty.
Where a main duty is accepted the reason for priority need is largely due to the household including dependent children, followed by mental health and physical health.
The main means of discharging a main duty is through an offer of social rented accommodation.
Levels of rough sleeping within the district are low, but have increased recently, which is the same nationally.
Since December 2019 to August 2022, 55 referrals had been made to the P3 outreach service for rough sleepers in South Cambridgeshire.
Due to vague or unclear information about the location of a rough sleeper, only 33% of referrals were located.
However, the service has a high success rate with regards to engaging with people with 89% of those found, engaging in a needs assessment and support plan with the Outreach Service.
Temporary accommodation increased during the pandemic and remains high and numbers are increasing nationally.
Shire Homes Lettings has housed over 150 households and as of March 2023 had 67 self-contained properties and 5 houses of multiple occupation providing 21 rooms.
As at March 2023, there were a total of 1738 applicants on the housing register. The highest proportion of these were single people.
Over the last 3 years (up to March 23) on average 318 allocations have been made each year from the housing register into Council stock, 24% of which are generally for sheltered accommodation.
Between 2018 to 2019 and 2022 to 2023, 318 council owned properties have been built including rented and shared ownership.
Since the last strategy, there have been on average 371 new affordable homes completions each year.
The number of lettings made to Registered Social Landlords (RSL’s) on average each year is 93.
The lower quartile house price to income ratio is 11.4 for South Cambridgeshire (October 2022) – generally house prices of 3 to 3.5 times income are considered affordable.
The difference between the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate for private rent and the median rent payable represents an average shortfall of £65 per week (October 2022).
Aim 1: To provide homeless prevention, early intervention and support
The need to promote early intervention to increase the opportunities to prevent homelessness, including family breakdown and other forms of insecure housing.
Ensuring we prevent and intervene to resolve rough sleeping.
Early intervention through protocols and pathways including the criminal justice system and care leavers.
Access to private rented accommodation including a rent deposit scheme and our private sector leasing scheme, Shire Homes Lettings.
Street outreach service provided by P3
Early and targeted money advice for those on a low income, including those in employment, to help with affordability.
Including a training package for tenancy responsibilities
Ongoing support and assistance for tenants and landlords in the private rented sector.
Ensuring we provide an inclusive service, taking account of all protected characteristics, particularly due to the increase in domestic abuse and high levels of homeless applications from those with mental and physical health needs.
Rectify the high number of ‘not known’ recordings.
Further work to build on the improvements to the Council’s response to domestic abuse.
Joint working with health services to improve early intervention for those with mental and physical health needs.
Aim 2: To provide suitable housing options
Improve the housing options available for single people including those who are unsuitable for shared accommodation.
Project with Ermine Street to provide additional single person self-contained accommodation.
Reducing the use of B&B, which is unsuitable as a form of temporary accommodation.
Monitor effectiveness of the change of working practice within the service
Increase provision of access to privately rented accommodation including through Shire Homes Lettings.
Council and Housing Association new build programmes
Joint work through the Home-Link partnership to reduce affordability concerns preventing offers of social housing.
Ongoing work to support government refugee schemes including guests from Ukraine.