Target Audience and Who Can Help?
20. Preventing homelessness is a corporate responsibility for local authorities rather than just for homelessness and/or housing services, and should be embedded across the whole organisation. By ensuring a corporate approach, based on the principles of early intervention, local authorities will be more likely to implement homelessness prevention activities that gain optimum effectiveness and synergy with related policy efforts. Relevant policy areas will be, e.g., financial inclusion, housing and council tax benefit administration, education, early years, youth work and child protection, community justice and safety, domestic abuse, health improvement, addictions, employability, community engagement activity and equalities work.
21. More widely, whilst local authorities have a statutory duty to develop strategic approaches to homelessness prevention, it should not be seen as solely their responsibility. This is particularly relevant within the context of increased joint working with Community Planning Partners to further develop Single Outcome Agreements. Local partner organisations, which have an interest in providing housing and/or promoting social equality, such as RSLs, advice agencies, health boards, prisons and employability agencies, can and should contribute to the prevention activities in each local authority area.
22. Health Boards have already developed plans based on the Health and Homelessness Standards which should set out how they plan to ensure that the health needs of homeless people are met. As part of the planning process it would be anticipated that there is already well developed local liaison and engagement with relevant homelessness services, including discharge protocols, information sharing and effective joint working arrangements. There is clearly a role in homelessness prevention for Community Health Partnerships and there are examples of good practice for less well developed partnerships to draw upon.
Glasgow City Council and Greater Glasgow NHS Board have jointly developed Statements of Best Practice ( SoBP) covering a range of topics and including the prevention and alleviation of homelessness. The SoBPs are comprehensive and provide detail and clarity of roles and purpose for all agencies, including the Community Health and Care Partnership.
23. Drug and Alcohol Teams ( DAATs) and Community Mental Health Services have particularly important roles in the prevention of homelessness. Local services should be supporting vulnerable people with complex needs to access and maintain engagement with mainstream services as well as working jointly with partners to sustain people in their homes.
24. Registered Social Landlords have strategic and operational interests in homelessness prevention activities. Pressure on their housing supplies, as well as their legal obligations to assist in alleviating homelessness, require them to continuously monitor and review how allocation policies and procedures are working and how tenancy sustainment measures can assist in preventing homelessness amongst their own tenants and residents.
25. The Voluntary Sector contributes to homelessness prevention activity in most local authority areas, even when not directly commissioned to deliver services by the local authority. The sector can bring added value in the shape of additional resources levered in through direct bidding to, e.g. The Big Lottery, but also through other charitable organisations and trusts. The benefits of working pro-actively with the sector towards shared outcomes are clearly evident.