Agenda item

Homelessness Update - Michelle Kaye (HWBB.09.11.23/7)


Michelle Kaye, Group Leader, Housing and Welfare, BMBC, delivered a presentation to provide the Board with an update on homelessness.


The following key points were noted:


·       In Barnsley, during 2022/23, 835 families and single households were owed a homeless duty from the Council.  Of which, 55.6% (464) were identified with additional support needs, including mental health (24%), physical ill health and disability (18.9%), offending (18.1%) and substance misuse (12.5%).

·       In Barnsley, the main reasons for homelessness were in relation to the end of a private rented sector accommodation, family and friends no longer willing to accommodate, people leaving an institution, eviction from supported housing and leaving due to domestic abuse.

·       Between 1 April 2023 to 30 September 2023, 380 proactive outreach finds or reports of people rough sleeping had been investigated by the Council.

·       A Homeless Prevention and Rough Sleeping Strategy for 2023-28: ‘Working in Partnership to end homelessness in Barnsley’ had been launched in September and would focus on five key priorities:

-       Homeless prevention and early intervention.

-       Supporting those with complex needs.

-       Developing a systemwide approach to housing and health.

-       Reducing the use and cost of temporary accommodation.

-       Improving access to a range of housing options.

·       There was evidence to show that there was a link between health, housing and homelessness.


The Board heard that a range of initiatives were being undertaken by the Housing and Welfare Team to help address homelessness in Barnsley. 


In summary, this included working with the hospital to look at how they could intervene earlier; undertaking training for key staff; working with partners on addressing poor quality housing conditions; working alongside the Integrated Care System to make sure that the homeless population is represented in any strategies, plans and operational delivery.  There would also be a focus on reducing homeless-related deaths.


The Board also heard of some of the challenges experienced by the Housing and Welfare Team.  In summary, this included supply and affordability in the housing market; availability and low turnover of social housing stock; the Cost of Living Crisis; engagement with rough sleepers and beggars; addressing wider needs, especially in relation to health and early referral to prevent homelessness.


The presentation also outlined a number of opportunities which would be pursued by the Housing and Welfare Team, and these were noted by the Board.


A discussion arose around early intervention to prevent homelessness.  It was queried if sufficient work was being undertaken by social prescribing services to offer help, advice and support to those individuals currently living in their own homes who may be facing homelessness.  In response, it was noted that discussions did take place at Social Prescribing Team meetings, and they were aware of the triggers and how to report into the Housing and Welfare Team.


The Board were concerned to note that homeless individuals often experienced difficulties in accessing mainstream mental health services.  It was agreed that a discussion would take place after today’s meeting between Michelle Kaye and Dawn Lawson.


A discussion arose around their being a need to undertake further work as a partnership to help address substance misuse, drugs and alcohol recovery steps for homeless individuals.  It was agreed that a further discussion would take place following today’s meeting between Michelle Kaye and Carrie Abbott.


The Board discussed and noted that there were some challenges around helping homeless individuals during periods of cold weather.  Assurances were provided that the Housing and Welfare Team implemented the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) in order to prevent deaths of people sleeping rough during cold weather.


The Board noted that a large majority of homeless individuals did not attend hospital appointments etc. for fear of judgement.  Assurances were provided that the Housing and Welfare Team were working with partners to help resolve this issue.


Following discussion, it was agreed that ‘Safeguarding’ also be added to the list of challenges faced by the Housing and Welfare Team.


The Board highlighted that, following the Covid-19 pandemic, there had been an increase in reports of both domestic abuse and the issuing of Section 21 Notices, which in some cases could lead to individuals and families becoming homeless.  It was queried if these increases would be a challenge for the Team.  In response, assurances were provided that there were homeless leads, champions and other professionals within the borough who could offer help and support to individuals.


On behalf of the Board, the Chair thanked Michelle for her detailed presentation.


RESOLVED that the presentation be noted.

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