To receive a report from the Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration.
The Director of Growth and Regulatory Services introduced the report and went over the key points. The Committee were informed that the housing service had been outsourced for a number of years but as of April 2021 the service had been brought back in house. The service supplied the Council’s statutory duties around housing and the service was mainly administered at the reception in Sale Waterside. The pandemic had led to the hub closing but an additional remote service had been developed in response, which would continue to be delivered alongside the service at Sale Waterside. The service received around 65 applications from Trafford residents per week on average. The Council had three duties that the service provided; a duty to support residents to avoid becoming homeless, a relief duty to support those in immediate need of direct assistance, and a main duty which addressed groups of people who needed the highest level of assistance.
The service provided advice to a households to aid them and help avoid homelessness. Trafford had ranged between 6 and 0 rough sleepers with an average of 2 or 3 and the service had plans in place to help those individuals. The service also provide temporary accommodation when needed, which was often placement in a bed and breakfast. Trafford had seen up to 24 people staying in bed and breakfasts but it averaged around 12.
Trafford also received people in need of housing from other local authorities. There was a statutory duty for authorities to inform each other when this occurred and Trafford had been working with the other GM authorities to improve the notification process. The majority of placements from outside of the borough came from Manchester City Council and there had been over 30 notifications received from them since the 1st April 2021.
The Director of Growth and Regulatory Services concluded with an overview of the challenges the service was facing. There was an increase in demand expected following the conclusion of the moratorium on evictions, which had been in place during the pandemic. The service also faced challenges in terms of the cost of renting homes within Trafford compared to the level assistance people received. The pandemic had prevented the progression of a number of housing work streams, especially those that looked at the links between health and homelessness. The service was working to reduce the additional impacts of the pandemic through monitoring and co-working with organisations across Trafford. In the long term the council were looking to increase the provision of temporary provision available in the area to reduce the need to place people in bed and breakfasts.
The Vice Chair raised concerns around the people from Manchester who were being placed in a Travel Lodge in Sale who did not seem to be provided with support and did not know where to get support from. The Vice Chair added that he also had ongoing concerns around the people placed at the Ambelhurst hotel and he asked for additional information provided regarding those individuals and the support they received. The Director of Growth and Regulatory Services responded that Trafford had been working with Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Police with regards to people placed within Trafford to ensure that a joined up approach was taken. The Ambelhurst was part of a wider Greater Manchester framework for placing homeless people and the framework aimed to improve support and increase safeguards for placements. The framework also linked with the social care and mental health services that supported the people in those placements.
Councillor Procter noted the national trend of more women presenting as being homeless and asked whether Trafford had seen a similar trend. The Director of Growth and Regulatory Services responded that he was not aware of such a trend in Trafford but he would review the data and pass the findings onto the Committee.
Councillor Dagnall asked what kind of support was in place for the vulnerable people in placements such as the Ambleurst and whether any of the support they had before being placed in Trafford (including family, friend, or social work support) was continued when they came to Trafford. The Director of Growth and Regulatory Services responded that when someone was placed they had a support officer assigned to them. Those support officers provided the person placed with details about the new area such as where local shops, pharmacies, and doctors were located. This had been especially challenging during the pandemic as many of the local amenities were closed, which had led to the Council providing hot food for residents directly in some cases. Any social or health care that the placed person needed was to be provided by the placing authority. Trafford checked people placed within the borough were aware of support available to them when they conducted welfare visits of placements.
Councillor Carter asked whether there was a target for the number of people placed at bed and breakfasts or temporary placements, what was the typical duration of stay in those types of accommodation, and what was the improvement target if the Council’s performance was not satisfactory. The Director of Growth and Regulatory Services responded that he did not have the data available for the average duration of stay in bed and breakfasts but the Council’s aspiration was to not use them at all. In order to achieve this the Council needed to have enough alternative forms of accommodation available that they could rely upon. Councillor Carter then asked for that data to be added as a KPI for the service and provided at a later date. The Director of Growth and Regulatory Services responded that the data was collected and would be sent to the Committee after the meeting.
Councillor Winstanley asked what the expected level of evictions was, including “hidden” evictions through price increases, as the pandemic came to an end. The Director of Growth and Regulatory Services responded that the service used the number of applications as an indicator of the number of evictions. It was felt that the main impact of the Covid 19 pandemic had not yet come through to the service and a greater increase in demand was expected over the course of the year.
Councillor Axford asked how much funding was available for discretionary housing payments. The Director of Growth and Regulatory Services responded that funding was quite limited and offered to provide figures on that funding after the meeting.
Councillor Newgrosh asked where Trafford were looking to increase capacity to address issues including the need to use bed and breakfast accommodation. The Director of Growth and Regulatory Services responded that the Council had received a homelessness reduction grant to help address capacity issues and those funds had been used to hire additional staff to work with those seeking support. In the long term Trafford were looking to work with housing providers to increase the level of temporary accommodation available through the affordable housing programme and an additional member of staff had been hired to focus on that work.
The Vice Chair requested confirmation that notices had been received for the people staying in Sale Travel Lodge.
It was agreed by the Committee that due to the amount of follow up information asked for and the interest of Committee Members in this item that it come back to the Committee at a later date.
1) That the report be noted.
2) That the Director of Growth and Regulatory Services provide the Committee with the information requested.
3) That homelessness in Trafford continue to be scrutinised by the Committee.