Report of Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services
The Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report (previously circulated) presenting the draft Preventing Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2019-2024 (also previously circulated) which had been approved for consultation.
The submitted report outlined the requirements under Section 1(1) of the 2002 Act for the Council to review homelessness for their area and publish a homelessness strategy based on the results of that review every five years, together with more recent guidance which required homelessness strategies to be rebadged as Preventing Harmlessness and Rough Sleeping Strategies. It was reported that both the Homeless Reduction Act 2017 and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2018 had impacted on the content and structure of the strategy with the main aim of the strategy being to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping with five key objectives supporting it.
It was reported that an Action Plan was in place which set out the key actions to deliver the objectives of the strategy and a new partnership group would be established to oversee the delivery of the strategy. Due to the complex challenges that are associated with homelessness, the partnership would consist of statutory and voluntary agencies that deliver a wide range of services, some of which would be related to wider needs beyond the specific issue of homelessness.
Members were advised that there had been a six per cent increase in the number of people who were approaching the Council for assistance, which was much lower than the increase that was expected following the introduction of the Homeless Reduction Act. This was in part due to the Council and its partner’s preventative approach to dealing with homelessness.
Members expressed concern regarding begging in Darlington and questioned what processes were in place to address this. It was confirmed that the Council’s Housing Options Service, which consisted of multi-agency officers, had undertaken checks on anyone found to be begging to identify those that were genuinely homeless and find solutions to address this and Members were reminded of the ‘Have a heart, give smart’ campaign which aimed to educate and raise awareness that giving money to those who beg was not the best way to help them.
RESOLVED – That the report be received.