The government's Department for Communities and Local Government is setting up a network of Homelessness Prevention Trailblazers across England "who want to go further and faster with reform and develop innovative new approaches to preventing homelessness".
The Trailblazers "will carry out prevention activity earlier and work with a wider group of people – not just those who are owed the main homelessness duty".
Trailblazers have to
- Collaborate with other services to identify at-risk households and target interventions well before they are threatened with eviction.
- Help people 56 days or even earlier when they are threatened with the loss of their home.
- Offer that help to a wider group of people than just those owed the main homelessness duty, and
- Test new, innovative approaches to prevent homelessness, to help build DCLG's evidence on what works and test the effects of these approaches in different areas.
Here is a link to DCLG's homelessness trailblazer bid resources including the prospectus and bid form.
In September 2016, partners from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough got together to prepare a bid. Our vision is that "by empowering all public facing staff to identify the risk of homelessness and work together to prevent it, we make homelessness the 'unacceptable outcome".
In December 2016 we discovered our bid had been successful and we had secured an additional £736,400 funding.
What difference will this make?
We will now be able to develop:
1. A new homelessness prevention network
- We need to prevent homelessness upstream, including people who are not yet in ‘priority need’.
- We will cement collaboration between all public sector agencies and partners to prevent homelessness.
- We will help staff identify early warning signs of homelessness and find new ways to prevent it.
- We will make sure every interaction counts.
- Homelessness becomes the “unacceptable outcome” through senior sign-up to a Memorandum of Understanding (called a multi-agency protocol in the bid), starting with the area's Public Service Board.
- Homelessness specialists will be employed, linking housing advice and other early help teams, to spot potential homelessness and coordinate actions.
- Provide homelessness prevention training for public-facing staff, supported by e-learning.
- Devise a ‘housing health check’ for partners, based on the local financial health check, to spot the warning signs and know who to turn to for help
- Provide action learning for frontline staff enabling them to deal with “difficult interactions”.
2. A new landlord and rent solution service
Loss of rented or tied accommodation is our biggest reason for homelessness acceptances, totalling 400 cases over the past 15 months in our area.
- We will create a new ‘rent solution’ service to help landlords maintain tenancies, resolve tenancy problems and reduce evictions which are leading to homeless acceptances.
- We will aim to attract landlords to use our trailblazer delivery vehicle through these interactions.
3. Business development officer (aka Trailblazer delivery vehicle in our bid)
Securing private rented accommodation is a main way to prevent homelessness locally. A new Business Development Officer will help bring more good quality, affordable and suitable private rented homes into our housing market and help bring any less popular housing into better use, working in harmony with social lettings agencies and private sector leasing schemes.
Increase supply of affordable housing options for households in need, co-operating with existing offers and exploring making furnished lets available.
Better use of existing data on rents, local housing allowance rates and housing turnaround times to identify any target areas.
4. Expanded web resources
Debt advice and resolving arrears are key to homelessness prevention.
We will suport the Making Money Count (MMC) web resource, which will help publicise our lettings vehicle and new ‘rent solutions’ service. Making Money Count already provides employment links, a directory of services, links with the Local Assistance Scheme and sources of support and advice. Other tools like Building Better Opportunities, Cambridgeshire’s care and support directory and Guide to Housing will also contribute. Through all these we aim to:
- Expand our web resource to help residents and partner agencies
- Introduce a new integrated budgeting application for the Building Better Opportunities website.
- Help people avoid homelessness using web resources and by building better inter-agency knowledge, referrals and links.
The funding comes in three chunks. Our spend profile looks like this:
Staffing & recruitment (12 FTEs)
|Protocol, healthcheck & action learning||Debt advice & budget app||Homeless prevention training|
Other: RP support, small intervention fund & evaluation
|Jan to March 2017||£5,000||£5,750||£1,500||£1,750||£24,600||£38,600|
|2017 to 2018||£294,000||£750||£37,500||£16,800||£20,600||£369,650|
|2018 to 2019|
Our bid partners include
- Cambridge sub-regional housing board (CRHB)
- Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group
- Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
- Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Public Services Board
- Cambridgeshire County Council teams including Adult Drug Treatment and Criminal Justice, Children, Adults and Families, Adult Social Care, Chronically Excluded Adults, Drug and Alcohol Team and Mental Health Commissioning.
- Public Health
- Together for Families
- Cambridgeshire Insight partnership
- CHS Group including Building Better Opportunities and Circle-Roddons including Making Money Count
- Department of Work & Pensions
- Police & Crime Commissioner
- Police Integrated Offender Management
- Local Registered Social Landlords via the Neighbourhood and Community Forum
- District housing authorities, namely Cambridge, East Cambridgeshire, Fenland, Huntingdonshire, South Cambridgeshire, Peterborough City
This list can be added to as more partners get involved...
We will set up a spreadsheet to convert the bid into an action plan, which we can use to keep a tab on progress over the next two years. ►
Progress will be monitored by a steering group and will be reported to the sub-regional housing board (CRHB).
The project includes independent evaluation which will also look at the outcomes of all our activities, and the impact of the Trailblazer funding.
This press release announced the success of our bid.
You can find a regular update on progress here.