Agenda item

Update from Portfolio Holder


The Portfolio Holder, and Chairman reported that there were a range of pressures that the Housing and Health Team were currently facing, particularly with the impact of Covid-19 related homelessness and the increased pressures on temporary accommodation. Homelessness approaches presenting in crisis as a result of domestic abuse and family breakdowns were increasing and putting immense pressures on the team resources. There was an excellent response coming forward and the HERO Team continued to support the increase of those who needed advice. This included helping 456 with Covid-19 related referrals, 17 people had been helped to apply for mortgages holidays and the team were dealing with increasing problems with unemployment, advice on benefits and 175 emergency packs distributed.  A positive response had been that 11 of the homelessness households had moved into Private Sector lettings.


Members were advised that Rebecca Wilcox had been appointed as the new Head of Housing and would be starting in March. Rav Kensrey had been in post as the new Homelessness Prevention Manager, and the new team structure was in place. A new Accommodation Team had been created, looking at the range of housing options offered in the District and a new team leader, Jenny Weston would be taking up this post. Jess Morgan, currently a HERO Officer had been successful in her application to the Housing Accommodation Officer role, with recruitment underway for a new HERO Officer. Having the team fully staffed would help reduce the pressures on the team.


The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) Next Steps accommodation programme was providing support under the Everyone In initiative which required all local housing authorities to house rough sleepers during the pandemic. The team had been successful in its application to MHCLG for £168,000 revenue funding being used for accommodation costs occurred, as part of the additional temporary additional expenditure. Additional funding had also been secured for further supporting the individuals, particularly with complex needs.


Following the renewed partnership agreement with West Kent Housing Association, work was being undertaken to maintain Vine Court Road as supported accommodation in the district and jointly funding refurbishment to enable rough sleepers to be housed there. 


The Chairman advised that additional funding had been secured from MHCLG’s Green Homes grants of nearly £1.5mhad been secured to look at insulation measures for mobile home properties that tackle fuel poverty and make the homes more energy efficient. It was hoped that 130 units could benefit from the grant scheme.


In conclusion, the Chairman advised that the One You team were looking at online services that could be offered.


Members asked questions on the Portfolio Holder’s update.


The Chairman took the opportunity to invite the Chief Officer, People and Places to address the Committee who advised that the biggest concerns for the teams were the increase of people reaching out for help at the later stages. The team were witnessing increasing high risk domestic abuse cases and more people attending in crisis as a result of lockdown, resulting in more emergency accommodation being required.


The District’s Local Strategic Partnership has launched its Community Wellbeing Fund, which will focus on funding projects supporting digital inclusion, addiction, NEETs and mental health.



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