NEW ways of delivering support services to individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless are to be considered following a public consultation.
Homelessness Support Services are commissioned by Reading Borough Council to support rough sleepers, provide bed spaces for individuals and couples without dependents who are homeless and help prevent households becoming homeless.
The Council has been looking at more flexible and innovative ways of helping those in need while at the same time looking to reduce expenditure as government funding cuts continue to take effect.
The consultation held earlier this year proposed, in line with national best practice, a shift in focus and funding towards a more flexible model that provides immediate and emergency responses to those who are homeless or rough sleeping; a more tailored support service for single homeless people and a stronger multi-agency approach to meeting complex needs and services which prevent homelessness.
Members of the Council’s Policy Committee will be asked to approve a new model for Homelessness Support Services which will feature:
· A hub that brings together services for those who are homeless or rough sleeping, including emergency assessment beds, 24/7 supported hostel accommodation and support services.
· An outreach team focused on supporting rough sleepers into accommodation and reconnecting those without a local connection to their area of origin.
· A ‘No Second Night Out’ model to ensure anyone sleeping rough for the first time is prevented from sleeping out for a second night.
· Emergency beds for rough sleepers, regardless of local connection, during severe winter weather.
· Shared supported accommodation for those currently unable to manage independent living.
· Some accommodation where an unconditional offer of independent housing is made alongside intensive support for people with multiple and complex needs.
· Floating support services to help people sustain their tenancy and prevent them becoming homeless.
· Exploration of a ‘No First Night Out’ approach to prevent those at risk of sleeping rough from doing so.
The Council currently spends £1.49m on homelessness support services and the new model would reduce the budget to £1.25m. A full competitive tender exercise will be undertaken with the implementation of new contracts anticipated from September 2018.
Councillor John Ennis, Lead Councillor for Housing, said:
“Feedback from the consultation showed overall support for the proposed remodelling of Homelessness Support Services.
“Severe cuts in central Government funding have an effect on all areas of the council but Reading’s investment in homelessness support is still substantial compared with many other local authorities, and we continue to work closely with our voluntary sector partners.
“I am confident this new way of working will provide a comprehensive and effective support service for vulnerable people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in Reading.”
The report on Homelessness Support Services will be presented to the Policy Committee on 17th July 2017 and can be found at: http://www.reading.gov.uk/article/10569/Policy-Committee-17-JULY-2017