[To review and comment on the performance and key areas for improvement]
Anthony Walker, Homeless Strategy and External Relationships Manager presented the report on an evaluation of the performance of Wolverhampton Homes and the Tenant Management Organisations (TMOs) in managing and maintaining council owned dwellings during quarter two of the 2018-2019 financial year.
During the ensuing discussion the Panel discussed the impact Universal Credit was having across the city. Councillor Peter Bilson reported that the problems were not specific to Wolverhampton. Nationally, councils were writing to the Government with their concerns regarding increased difficulties being faced with the transition of one system onto the Universal Credit system. Wolverhampton was providing a lot of good support to tenants through its multi-agency approach. He also reported that in terms of homelessness within the city, the Homelessness Reduction Act that came into force in April 2018 was starting to have an impact. The Council’s ability to keep on top of providing support to anyone presenting themselves as homeless, irrespective of their priority need status, had contributed to a visible increase in the numbers of rough sleepers. Part of the Council’s response had been to become part of the National Housing First programme, an approach to offer permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible for individual families experiencing homelessness and then to provide the supportive services and connections to the community based support that people need to keep their housing and avoid returning to homelessness. Councillor Peter Bilson also reported that the Council had been commended and applauded as a high performing council for its work on tackling homelessness.
Councillor John Reynolds reported that from his involvement on the city’s Housing Support and Social Inclusion Board, there was evidence that some people were falling through the gaps because they do not have the support to access the services they need to be independent and remain independent. This in turn could lead to them using food banks.
The Chair placed on record her thanks and congratulations to Wolverhampton Homes and partners across the city for their work on stopping people spiralling into debt and from being made homeless.
Councillor Lynne Moran commented on the performance against the indicator ‘56 days allowed to make a homelessness decision’. The Homeless Strategy and External Relationships Manager reported that performance was good and it was taking less time to make a homeless decision that the 56 days allowed under the Act. He added that a major factor in the homelessness issue was private landlords. They were the largest reason for homelessness because of their unwillingness to take on tenants in receipt of Universal Credit.
Members of the Panel also asked about the number of rough sleepers in the city and how the figure compared with comparably sized local authorities. The Homeless Strategy and External Relationships Manager reported that it currently stood at 16 and the numbers were reducing. The Council’s approach of working together with partners had made a massive difference. It was difficult to compare this figure with other local authorities as the data had not been published. However, the Council would be one of a few councils of its size to see a reduction in its number for rough sleepers.
Councillor Lynne Moran added that the number of young people who are sofa surfing was also a concern. The Homeless Strategy and External Relationships Manager advised that work was taking place with partner agencies in response.
That the performance of the housing management agents for quarter two 2018/2019 be noted.