UNITED KINGDOM NATIONAL REPORT 2004 FOR THE EUROPEAN OBSERVATORY ON HOMELESSNESS: POLICY UPDATE By Isobel Anderson
Dr Isobel Anderson is Senior Lecturer in Housing Studies Housing at the University of Stirling
Table of Contents
1 Introduction 2 Governance and Institutional Policies 2.1 Government Reform 2.2 Social Exclusion 2.3 New Actors 2.4 Legislation 3 Access to Housing 3.1 Social Welfare Support and Housing Benefit 3.2 Social exclusion and access to housing 3.3 Provision of affordable rented housing 4 Preventing Exclusion 4.1 Homelessness Strategies 4.2 Homelessness Services 4.3 Indebtedness and Eviction 5 Policies targeting the most vulnerable 5.1 Domestic abuse 5.2 Immigrants 5.3 Those who live in areas marked by social exclusion 5.4 Vulnerable single people
1 Introduction This report builds on the 20021 and 2003 UK policy reports. This report is structured to correspond to the draft EOH review of policies on homelessness in Europe circulated in August 2004. The 2003 policy report highlighted the sections and targets in the UK National Action Plan on Social Inclusion (2003-2005, Department for Work and Pensions, 2003a) which are most relevant to homelessness and housing policy. No further updates on the NAPincl had the DWP website by 1 November 2004. This year’s policy report incorporates some policy relevant research findings as this year’s research report focused on academic journal articles.
2 Governance and Institutional Policies 2.1 Government Reform The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) has been moving forward with its plans for Regional Assemblies in England. On 22 July 2004, the deputy Prime Minister published a draft Bill and policy statement on elected regional assemblies (ODPM, 2004a). This would be a further step in devolution, following from the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh, Northern Ireland and Greater London Assemblies. The intention is to introduce a final version of the Bill once at least one region has voted positively to establish an assembly. Elected Regional Assemblies would mainly be funded from Central Government grant and would have considerable freedom to allocate their spending according to regional priorities. The key role of assemblies would be to improve the quality of life in and economic performance of their regions. The draft Bill and policy statement set out the 1
The 2002 UK national report provided a baseline overview from the year 2000 which remains a useful for reference point for an overview of homelessness in the UK.
purposes, powers and responsibilities that the Government envisages elected regional assemblies will have. They also cover the establishment, election, constitution and funding of elected assemblies. A postal ballot for a North East Regional Assembly was taking place at the end of October 2004. However, media poles predicted a No vote (The Telegraph, 2004).
Regional assemblies would be able to take a strategic lead in Housing issues (ODPM, 2004a).
This would include the work currently undertaken by the
Government Office for the Region and the strategic and resource allocation roles of the Housing Corporation in England. Assemblies would develop and deliver regional strategies and policies on housing, and there would be a requirement to prepare a housing strategy document (possibly integrated with other policy areas). Assemblies would be able to allocate support for housing capital investment between councils, housing associations and other providers. Housing provisions are contained in clauses 110-114 of the Bill.
2.2 Social Exclusion The Social Exclusion Unit (England) The Government’s Social Exclusion Unit is now within the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, though it still has a remit to link across policy areas. The Social Exclusion Unit’s final report on Mental Health and Social Exclusion has now been published, setting out the Government’s course of action (Social Exclusion Unit, 2004a). A report on jobs and enterprise in deprived areas has also been published this year (Social Exclusion Unit, 2004b). The Social Exclusion Unit (2004c) also published a major report of its activities to date in 2004. Breaking the Cycle: Taking stock of progress and priorities for the
future reports on the impact of government policy on tackling social exclusion (post 1997). The evidence shows fewer children living in poverty, low unemployment, and a reduction in rough sleeping. Priority areas for the future include continued efforts to reduce the level of homelessness. Increasing the supply of affordable housing will be central to tackling homelessness, combined with a continued emphasis on prevention. Scottish Executive The Scottish Executive (2003a) annual report on Social Justice set out performance across a range of indicators of progress in 2003. One indicator is that no one in Scotland should have to sleep rough. The Scottish Executive commissions bi-annual prevalence assessments of the numbers of rough sleepers across Scotland in ‘typical weeks’, combined with an audit of emergency accommodation and a qualitative assessment of how supply and demand factors inter-relate. Recorded figures show a continuing reduction from 2001-2003 as indicated on Table 1. Table 1: Total numbers recorded as having slept rough on at least one night in study period (Scotland) May
Source: Adapted from Scottish Executive (2003a), p50 Table 12a
However, data from the local authority official returns on households presenting as homeless indicated that there were 6052 cases in the year January – December 2002 where at least one member of the household said they had slept rough in the past three months (Scottish Executive 2003a, p52).
The Scottish Executive (2003a, p107) also has a milestone to increase the quality and variety of homes in the most disadvantaged communities. Data on type of property and number of bedrooms show little change in the 1999-2002 period. The proportion of overcrowded households (below the official bedroom standard) fell from 6% in 1996 to 3% in 2002 (Scottish Executive, 2003a, p108). However, the proportion remained at 5% in the most deprived neighbourhoods. In 2002, around 80% of all new dwellings completed were in the private sector, with housing associations completing around 20% (p110). The 2002 Scottish House Condition Survey showed that the proportions of dwellings with dampness (6%) and condensation (11%) had both declined from the 1996 survey. Non-Government Reports. A report on monitoring poverty and social exclusion found a downward trend in the number of people living in low-income households, to a level lower that at any point during 1990s (Palmer et al, 2003). This was argued to be linked to reduction in the number of workless households. The study found that out of work benefits to working age families with children and pensioners had risen, and, combined with tax credits, the severity of poverty in the UK had lessened. However there was less evident progress in health and education indicators (Palmer et al, 2003). Goodman and Oldfield (2004) found that while income inequality in the UK in the 1990s grew more slowly than in the 1980s, inequality was higher at the end of the decade. Over the early 2000s inequality fell slightly, but not by a statistically significant amount. The sustained period of rising inequality during the 1980s has been halted. However the inherited level of income inequality has not been much reversed and inequality remains near a 40 year high. Expenditure inequality was lower than income inequality early in the 1990s but has subsequently moved in parallel. A report on the used of anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) in Scotland found that their use varied across Scotland and that local authorities may be using other
mechanisms to tackle anti-social behaviour (Chartered Institute of Housing (Scotland), 2003). The number of ASBOs granted per year continued to rise and were still focused predominantly on local authority tenants. Action was perceived to have resulted in improvements in behaviour. 2.3 New Actors Scotland: Homelessness Monitoring Group This group was convened by the Scottish Executive in 2002, to follow up on the earlier work of the Homelessness Task Force, including overseeing implementation of its recommendations and ongoing monitoring of homelessness policy, legislation and practice in Scotland. The Homelessness Monitoring Group comprises representatives of the Scottish Executive and relevant statutory and non-statutory agencies in the Scottish homelessness policy community. The group produced its first progress report in January 2004 (Homelessness Monitoring Group, 2004). In 2004, the UK research correspondent to the EOH was invited to join the Scottish Homelessness Monitoring Group.
The research correspondent is invited as an
independent academic member of the monitoring group. The UK FEANTSA AC representative also sits on the Homelessness Monitoring Group in his capacity as Director of SCSH. 2.4 Legislation England (& England and Wales) The reduction/eradication of the use of B&B accommodation for homeless families has been a key policy priority in 2004. The Minister announced proposals to ban the long term use of bed and breakfast for families with children from April 2004. The first target was to end placements of more than six weeks duration. Significant progress in reducing the placement of families and single people in B&B was reported. A consultation exercise had been undertaken in 2003. The Code of Guidance on homelessness was to be amended to take account of new regulations
(Inside Housing, 21 November 2003a, p19). These new regulations were approved in The Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2003. Statutory Instrument 2003, No 3326. Subject to exceptions listed in the order, B&B accommodation was no longer to be regarded as suitable for an applicant with family commitments. The exceptions included there being no other accommodation available and that B&B accommodation was not occupied for more than 6 weeks. Credland (2003) reports on progress of a sample of English local authorities on the first year of implementation of the Homelessness Act 2002. The report charts the stages undertaken in developing homelessness strategies. The Queens Speech, November 2003 The annual Queens Speech sets out planned legislation for the parliamentary session (2003-4). Three pieces of housing related policy designed to improve quality of life were announced: •
A better and fairer housing market with more protection for the most vulnerable
A fairer and faster planning system with greater community participation
Improved delivery of fire and rescue service, with greater focus on community fire safety and fire prevention.
The Housing Bill contained proposals: •
To give local authorities powers to licence landlords in the private rented sector in areas of low demand where nuisance tenants are a problem.
To overhaul the process of buying and selling homes, introducing Home Information Packs.
For better protection for tenants of HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation) through mandatory licensing scheme administered by local authorities
For the replacement of current housing fitness standard with a housing health and safety rating system.
For the modernisation of the Right to Buy
For the extension of disabled facilities grant to caravan dwellers
For a new Social Housing Ombudsman for Wales
(ODPM 2003a) The Fire and Rescue Services Bill placed more emphasis on prevention while the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill proposed a more flexible regional and local system contributing to sustainable communities, speed up handling of major infrastructure projects and dealing with abuses of the system by developers (ODPM, 2003a). As at November 2004, the Housing Bill was currently undergoing detailed scrutiny in the Committee and Lords stages, but was expected to achieve Royal Assent by the end of 2004 (ODPM, 2004b). The Home Office announced that begging would become a recordable offence from 1st December 2003 (Home Office, 2003). In its press release, the Home Office stated, ‘Begging, already a criminal offence, will from today be a recordable offence as part of the Government’s drive to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour’. The change will allow police to identify repeat offenders, as their details will be stored on the National Police Computer if/when they are arrested (Home Office, 2003). Wales A review of implementation of the homelessness legislation by local authorities in Wales was undertaken by HACAS Chapman Hendy (2003) for the Welsh Assembly Government. The study found that the strengthening of the legislation had been broadly welcomed, with developments in good practice, though these were not uniform across the country. Levels of homelessness continued to increase, however. There remained a need for coherent, multi-agency approaches. There was scope to improve reception and advice for homeless applicants. The report presents recommendations for improved practice. Scotland
In January 2004, the Scottish Executive announced a consultation on minimising the use of B&B as temporary accommodation for homeless families (Scottish Executive, 2004a). The Executive endorsed the Homelessness Task Force’s recommendation that local authorities’ strategies should include proposals to eliminate the use of B&Bs for families. Further consultation on the use of B&B was issued with the aim of having an order in place by the end of 2004. The Homelessness etc Act 2003 came into force (SCSH, 2004a). A Commencement Order was laid before the Scottish Parliament implementing sections of the new Act from 30 Jan 2004. Notably Section 1 extended the statutory definition of priority need to virtually all groups mentioned in the 1997 code of guidance: •
All 16 and 17 year olds and 18 to 20 year olds at risk of financial or sexual exploitation or substance misuse, or looked after by a local authority on or after school leaving age
Vulnerable adults with a personality disorder
Those discharged from prison, hospitals, and the armed forces
Those at risk of violence or harassment.
SCSH (2004b) provided an update on the Anti-Social Behaviour etc (Scotland) Bill, highlighting four key areas which may impact on homelessness: 1. Anti-social Behaviour Orders to under 16 year olds may result in a secure tenancy being converted to a short tenancy (reduction in security for household). 2. The proposed use of Closure Notices and Closure Orders required clarification regarding the position of hostel dwellers as they may prevent some households from accessing their accommodation. Some types of accommodation may require to be exempt. Operation may conflict with homelessness duties of local authorities and may undermine harm reduction services. 3. Anti-Social Behaviour Notices may lead to eviction, which simply moves the problem on and places a duty on the local authority under the homelessness
legislation. Particular issues around Private Rented Sector and accessing support services were noted. 4. Registration Areas may also impact on access to housing. Central government has long published a Code of Guidance on Homelessness to give further operational guidance to local authorities implementing the homelessness legislation. Codes of guidance are updated from time to time in line with policy and legislative change. The Scottish Executive (2004b) updated the Scottish code, following a consultation exercise in 2003, with an initial three month period for feedback of comments on early implementation (by 26 August 2004). Local authorities are required to have regard to the code in the exercise of their homelessness functions. Under a second commencement order, further provisions of the Homelessness etc (Scotland) Act 2003 came into force on 2 July 2004 (SCSH, 2004c). Scottish Sheriff Courts were given the discretion not to grant repossession in cases where rent arrears were due to delays in Housing Benefit payments.
3 Access to Housing 3.1 Social Welfare Support and Housing Benefit The Department for Work and Pensions was piloting a new reform of Housing Benefit for the private rented sector in 2003, paying a flat rate Local Housing Allowance varying only by size of family (rather than being related to the rent of the property). Tenants could shop around and either retain any savings or add extra to rent a higher priced property. Payment would be made direct to the tenant instead of the landlord. There were 9 local authority pathfinder areas (Department for Work and Pensions, 2003b).
3.2 Social exclusion and access to housing
England Relevant Consultation Papers issued or concluded during Oct 2003 to October 2004, can be accessed from the ODPM website: •
Local Authority Housing Grant (detailed transitional financial arrangements) (December 2004).
Housing and Planning in the Regions (November 2004)
Housing and Employment Mobility Services (November 2004)
Licensing in the private rented sector (October 2004)
Race Equality Impact Assessments (June 2004)
Local Authority Housing Revenue Account methodology for capital expenditure (September 2004)
Three year review of rent restructuring (social rented housing) (September 2004)
Exemption from the Right to Buy (August 2004)
Right of first refusal: social landlords to buy back homes offered for resale (June 2004)
Park Home (mobile home) statutory instruments (October 2004)
Housing Stock Transfer: removing barriers in the process (Jan 2004)
Anti-social behaviour guidance: police powers (May 2004)
The ODPM (2004c) published guidance on housing allocation and homelessness for local authorities who transfer their housing stock to other landlords. The guidance (based on research) made no recommendations regarding whether to retain homelessness services in-house or to contract out. Rather, a housing authority can only make such decisions after it has given careful consideration to its continuing need to meet its statutory obligations, fulfil its strategic responsibilities and deliver its policies in relation to preventing and tackling homelessness and meeting housing need. The guidance summarises statutory and regulatory requirements and outlines the processes of option appraisal and decision making.
The move towards choice based lettings has been a feature of recent policy across the UK. The ODPM (2004d,e) published an evaluation of housing applicants’ perspectives on choice based lettings, and a separate evaluation of such schemes. The studies tested alternatives to bureaucratic allocations systems, giving more choice to prospective tenants. It is important to continue to monitor such initiatives in terms of equal opportunities and access for homeless households. The ODPM (2004f) published a review of the evidence and literature on the impact of overcrowding on health and education. Details of the initiative to assist key workers in high house price areas are set out in ODPM (2004g). This leaflet clarifies the groups of key workers eligible, types of assistance available (equity loans, shared ownership and intermediate renting) and the conditions attached to assistance. Wilcox (2004) reports on affordability differences by area for working households buying their homes in England. The Guardian (2004) reports on a study by York University for NGO Centrepoint, estimating that the extent of homelessness among 16-24 year olds had reached 52,000, including people sleeping rough, those in bed and breakfast and those moving between friends’ houses. The NGO Crisis (2004) estimated there were 380,000 hidden homeless people in Britain, living in hostels, squats, bed and breakfast and staying with friends or family. Circumstances can be long term. Mitchell et al’s (2004) survey of 400 homeless households living in temporary accommodation found that more than half had been waiting for permanent accommodation for more than a year. The study identified negative effects of temporary accommodation on health, children’s education and work opportunities. Scotland The Scottish Executive (2004c) provides a progress update on the initiative to support development of Common Housing Registers in local authority areas, to ease access to local authority and registered social landlord stock in an era of diverse provision.
Reid, Harrow and Mole (2004) evaluated the risks and rewards of developing common housing registers in Scotland. The short to medium term benefits of CHRs were mainly in terms of partnership know-how, information sharing and streamlining of local services. Development costs increased from the mobilisation to the realisation phase (including IT costs). National co-ordination was valuable but local management and partnership skills were also crucial to success. 3.3 Provision of affordable rented housing 2004 saw the final report of the Barker Review of housing supply, commissioned by the UK Treasury (Barker, 2004). Economist, Kate Barker, a member of the government’s economic policy committee was commissioned to review housing demand and housebuilding in the UK. An interim report published December 2003 found that lack of public investment was at the root of the undersupply of affordable homes (Inside Housing, 2003b). The interim report highlighted the importance of affordable housing and suggested that the annual number of affordable homes built should be more than double those built for owner occupation. The shortfall of housing in England was estimated at 93,000 to 146,000 per annum (Inside Housing, 2003b). The final report (Barker, 2004) was published in March 2004. The UK’s long term (30 year) upward trend in house prices had created problems of housing affordability. A weak housing supply and volatility in the housing market had an adverse effect on economic growth, hindered labour market flexibility and contributed to macroeconomic instability. Lower house price growth would be desirable. However, increasing housing supply also raised concerns about the environment and loss of open space. Barker argued for the case for considering a more equitable distribution of housing wealth and, ultimately, for increased new housebuilding to stem homelessness. Policy recommendations included: •
A government goal for improved market affordability
Additional investment in social housing of £1.2-1.6billions per annum. An increase in the supply of social housing of 17,000 homes per year was
believed to be required to meet the needs of new households, combined with an increase of 9000 per annum to tackle the backlog of unmet need (England). •
Planning recommendations to assist development and affordability.
A review of the role and effectiveness of the Housing Corporation in England was undertaken by the House of Commons (2004). The Committee on
Planning, Local Government and the Regions found that while the Housing Corporation managed a major housing investment programme, its relations with other agencies were not sufficiently defined, leading to some duplication of effort. There was scope for better use of public money. The Housing Corporation should develop a close relationship with Regional Housing Boards in England. The committee did not find evidence that larger housing associations were necessarily more efficient than smaller associations. Concern was expressed about the use of poor quality prefabricated housing designs as a cost saving measure. The remaining regulatory role of the Housing Corporation over housing associations needs to be clarified in the light of the Audit Commission assuming the inspection role. The debate on the need for more affordable homes in Scotland also continued during 2003/4. The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA, 2003) called for a doubling of new social rented homes in Scotland. While the Scottish Executive had introduced stronger measures to house homeless people this had not been matched by increased availability of affordable housing. Funding for new homes had fallen while demand had risen (SFHA, 2003). In its own press release, the Scottish Executive (2003b) emphasised the need for service provision as well as supply. There was a need to ensure an appropriate match between property type/location and households in need across the country, not just to debate crude numbers of new dwellings. A later survey of 25 Scottish local authorities estimated that 8400 new houses were needed but only 3200 were due to be built (SCSH, 2004c). Three local authorities had a crude surplus but not necessarily the right type, size and location of dwellings to meet demand.
The Chartered Institute of Housing (Scotland) (2004) published its submission to the Scottish Executive Comprehensive Spending Review, incorporating an important overview of Scottish budgets for housing policy implementation. Berry (2004) provides a definition of affordable housing in Scotland and discusses policy issues around tenure change, demand, house prices and household change. This briefing paper for the Scottish Parliament also looks at land use planning and investment and the Scottish and UK reviews of housing supply. Rugg and Rhodes (2004) evaluated the lead tenancy schemes in Scotland which received government grant to refurbish empty properties in private ownership. These were then leased to an RSL to house homeless households. The scheme provided a useful additional tool in the prevention and alleviation of homelessness, though local opportunities were influential and there was a need for improved general guidance.
4 Preventing Exclusion 4.1 Homelessness Strategies A strategic approach to homelessness is now embedded in UK policy and legislation. Sykes (2004) found that staff resources for statutory homelessness services had increased as a result of the production of strategies in England and Wales, but that this had not generally been accompanied by increased financial resources. Most authorities now had a lead officer for the creation and implementation of the homelessness strategy. Most authorities had also developed performance monitoring systems for implementation of their strategies, but were cautious as to the actual expected impact on, for example, targets to reduce rough sleeping and the use bed and breakfast accommodation (Sykes, 2004). NGO Shelter has also endeavoured to monitor the development and implementation of strategies in England. Dudleston, Alty, and Henthorne (2004) provide an updated assessment of homelessness reviews and strategies. The research revealed positive
outcomes beyond the strategy documents themselves. The exercise helped fill gaps in knowledge, build stronger relationships and develop a multi-agency approach to homelessness. However, a lack of sufficient resources for strategy design and implementation was identified. Target setting for action plans tended to be vague, with a lack of prioritisation and timing. The report makes recommendations for better practice. Lewis (2003) examined health and social services engagement in homelessness strategies and services in England. This study found that the Homelessness Act 2002 was having a positive impact on the quality and level of joint working, although good practice was not consistent across all areas and services. Poor relationships between statutory services resulted in variable services and left vulnerable people at risk of future homelessness. Health services were generally less involved than social work services. The report makes recommendations for better practice. ODPM itself provides regular policy briefings along with the publication of homelessness statistics, including a briefing on repeat homelessness, which has been a key issue for strategies and prevention (ODPM, 2004h). In Northern Ireland, the body with strategic responsibility for homelessness is the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, which published a Homelessness Strategy and Service Review in 2001. Nevertheless, the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts (2004) was very critical of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s role in dealing with homelessness in Northern Ireland (Comptroller and Auditor General, 2001). Strategic management of homelessness services in Northern Ireland was reported to have been poor over a 14 year period. Temporary accommodation used was unsuitable and expensive and there had been an over reliance on B&B. Homeless persons needs were not being met properly, with evidence of insensitive allocations. Further, stays in temporary accommodation were too long (three times longer than targets).
The Welsh Assembly (2004a) has produced an advice note on the prevention of Homelessness. This contains detailed guidance, aimed at voluntary sector organisations, and based on a systematic review of evidence. The note discusses the concept of prevention, general prevention programmes, interventions targeted on specific groups and monitoring and evaluation of preventive interventions. Prior to this the Welsh Assembly had published the report of the Welsh Homelessness Commission (National Assembly for Wales, 2001) and a draft National Homelessness Strategy (Welsh Assembly Government, 2002). 4.2 Homelessness Services Supporting People ODPM (2003b) commissioned research specifically on the support needs of homeless people and services required to meet their needs. The results were to inform policy and local service delivery. The report concluded that with the new local authority homelessness strategies and funding through Supporting People, a new approach to homelessness must be based on prevention through assessing and meeting support needs of those who are homeless and at risk of homelessness (ODPM, 2003b). In Scotland, a survey of Supporting People providers, showed a focus of attention on administration of the scheme and awareness of strategies and procedures in the first six months of operation (SCSH, 2003). However, 40% of providers said they received a lower than expected level of grant funding. 2003-4 saw the first major review of the Supporting People programme which had only been fully implemented from April 2003. In December 2003, the Scottish Executive announced funding allocations for the Supporting People programme for Scottish local authorities. Services supported through the programme grew significantly in 2002-3 in the run up to the introduction of new arrangements and the Scottish Executive announced a review of the
programme with to ensure it was meeting its objectives. The statutory basis for the new arrangements was incorporated into the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001. The purpose of the review of service growth was to ensure services funded by Supporting People fell within the original purpose of the programme (including services for homeless people). The full report of the independent review of Supporting People in England (commissioned by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) found significant variation in costs of services per client across the country (RSM Robson Rhodes, 2004). The report recommended scope for value for money savings of 2.5% in the Supporting People budget. The House of Commons (2004) examined aspects of the Government’s Supporting People programme. This report looked at the reasons for commissioning an early review, the effects of capital and revenue funding streams, Home Improvement Agencies, and the transfer of responsibility within ODPM. The Committee welcomed the 2004 independent review (RSM Robson Rhodes, 2004), but expected a fuller report from ODPM in 2005. The report notes the shortcomings in implementation despite a long preparation period and copious guidance. A detailed methodology for the allocation of resources under the Supporting People programme is set out in ODPM (2004h). In 2004, the Scottish Executive set up a Supporting People Enabling Unit (Scottish Executive, 2004e). The Unit is funded by the Scottish Executive for 2 years, to assist and support independent service providers in the implementation of the Supporting People Programme. The unit is a joint initiative between Community Care Providers Scotland and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations. The unit’s first information bulletin contained items on programme funding and review; contracts; registration and inspection of housing support services; regulation of registered social landlords and the role of the enabling unit itself.
Later in the year, the Scottish Executive (2004e) announced £406m Supporting People funding for 2005-6 and £399m in each of the following two years, linked to a gradual redistribution of funding across Scottish local authorities, following the review during 2004. Ongoing monitoring of the implementation and effectiveness of the Supporting People programme will remain a key issue for 2005 and beyond. Other homelessness services Local authorities in England received £45m from ODPM to support continued implementation of their homelessness strategies in 2004/5 and voluntary organisations received £15m to support their work with homeless people ODPM (2003c). ODPM (2004i) provides a policy briefing on the health needs of homeless people and those vulnerable to homelessness. The briefing examines both health needs and service delivery. The quality of hostels and other types of temporary accommodation is the focus of the ODPM (2004j) briefing. The new UK homelessness agenda emphasises the prevention of homelessness, for example through resettlement services. Neuburger (2003) looks at the prevention of family homelessness through tenancy sustainment services, families being a group where there has been less research on support services and prevention. The Welsh Assembly (2004b) published and advice note on consulting with homeless people. The note contains detailed guidance for organisations working with homeless people on consulting with their service users. The guidance, which is aimed at statutory and NGO agencies, looks at the role of consultation, the process and the methods, and what to do with the information collected. The note provides case study examples.
The provision of housing advice to prisoners in Scotland through projects funded by the Rough Sleepers Initiative in Scotland was evaluated by Reid Howie Associates (2004). The projects were found to be generally well managed and effective though vulnerable to staffing absences. However, services were not sufficient to meet expressed demand within the prison establishments. There was lack of monitoring, target setting and review in the projects. The service provided was not consistent across Scotland. Projects seemed to work most effectively for remand and new prisoners and were having some impact in supporting people on release. There remain inconsistencies in the priority given to ex-prisoners by local housing authorities and registered social landlords. The programme needed to be more strategic with minimum service levels and consistency across the country. In their discussion paper for the National Housing Federation, Unwin and Molyneux (2004) review the concept and nature of supported housing for different client groups (including for homeless people). The report looks at the contemporary operating environment for registered social landlords; current issues in public policy towards supported accommodation; suggests options for the future; and considers supported housing in relation to neighbourhoods. 4.3 Indebtedness and Eviction No new information to report.
5 Policies targeting the most vulnerable 5.1 Domestic abuse Louise Brown Research (2004) evaluated the Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline. The helpline service is provided by trained volunteers, supported by paid co-ordinators. The demands on the service almost doubled from 2000-2003. Evaluation recommendations included more robust monitoring, provision of continuing training and some specialist provision (for example minority languages).
5.2 Immigrants The UK research correspondent (Anderson, 2004) conducted a major review of policies for access to decent housing for migrants and minority ethnic groups in the UK. The report concluded that despite progress over the decades, settled immigrant communities in the UK still experienced housing disadvantage compared to their white UK counterparts. Initial housing disadvantage, including official procedures for the reception of asylum seekers and refugees, means that new migrants and their future offspring are likely to continue to experience relative housing disadvantage for decades and generations to come.
5.3 Those who live in areas marked by social exclusion A research report on how housing management can contribute to community cohesion for the Chartered Institute of Housing and the Housing Corporation was undertaken by Robinson et al (2004). The study looks at the concept of community cohesion, the policy agenda, reviews research and presents case studies of current practice and new initiatives. A key focus is on multi-cultural communities and issues of segregation and integration. Improving housing services through resident involvement is the subject of a review by the Audit Commission (2004). The report looks at costs and benefits of resident involvement in housing. The Audit Commission argues for a more questioning and open approach to participation. Both landlords (housing associations) and residents need to be clear about the rationale for involvement. The study concluded that involvement does improve services and can bring value for money. Gains in community capacity building were likely to take longer to emerge. Resident involvement in governance remained most problematic, though was considered important in principle.
In Scotland, Nicholson (2003) analysed the baseline study of tenant participation linked to implementation of the tenant participation elements of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001. The analysis looked at 143 survey returns from Scottish local authorities and registered social landlords. Most had criteria/procedures in place for registering tenant organisations. More than half had a draft or final tenant participation strategy. The report deals with the detail of strategy and implementation. 5.4 Vulnerable single people The Homelessness Act 2002, for England, created new and extended homelessness priority need categories for local housing authorities, resulting in many more single people being accepted as homeless and in priority need. London Housing and the Association of London Government (2003) produced a report on the early implementation of this legislation with recommended good practice on housing single vulnerable people.
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Modernising Government Fund
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Isobel Anderson 2 November 2004.
Contact: Dr Isobel Anderson Senior Lecturer in Housing Studies Housing Policy and Practice Unit University of Stirling Stirling FK9 4LA Direct Tel: 01786 467718 Office Tel: 01786 467719 email: [email protected]