Flexible Homelessness Support Grant Expenditure
The Assistant Director, Housing and Built Environment submitted a report which advised members of changes in the way central government funds temporary housing for homelessness households.
There has been a significant increase in the number of homeless applications the council receives, which reflects broader national trends. A new Homelessness Reduction Act, which was scheduled to be implemented in April 2018, will place additional duties on housing authorities in respect of homelessness prevention. The government had introduced a Flexible Homelessness Support Grant (FHSG) to support these activities.
The report proposed directing these resources towards a variety of homelessness prevention activities over a two year period. The grant can also be used to meet the cost of temporary accommodation. A monitoring group, comprising housing and finance colleagues, will meet on a quarterly basis to review the effectiveness of these initiatives in reducing homelessness.
The recommendations of the Assistant Director, Housing and Built Environments, report were agreed without being called for discussion.
RESOLVED that the new flexible homelessness support grant is committed in support of the proposals outlined in the report and to authorise the Assistant Director, Housing and Built Environment, in consultation with the Chief Finance Officer and Lead Member for Housing, to approve variations to the budget which might occur in response to legislative changes and housing needs over the funding period
The reason for this decision was:
A new Flexible Homelessness Support Grant (FHSG) has been awarded to local authorities by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to help cover the additional costs associated with temporary housing costs for homeless households. This ring-fenced grant is finite and fixed for a period of two years covering 2017/18 and 2018/19. It can be applied flexibly for prevention activity and interventions that will help minimise the impact of additional accommodation costs on authorities.
The new funding model replaces the demand led Temporary Accommodation Management Fee (TAMF) previously paid by the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) and administered by housing benefit departments. The fee helped bridge the gap between standard housing benefit payments and the additional costs associated with the use of temporary accommodation for homeless households. In applying the new funding model the government is seeking to encourage council’s to prioritise homelessness prevention measures. This will provide councils with a means of controlling and reducing future expenditure on temporary housing solutions which have a high cost, such as the extended use of commercial bed and breakfast accommodation.
The changes in funding should be viewed within a context of rising levels of homelessness and rough sleeping both nationally and locally. This is resulting in significant increases in service demand and is hampering the ability of councils to achieve successful homelessness preventions. The reasons for increasing numbers of people presenting as homeless are complex; however, they are driven by a lack of affordable housing in both the private and social sector, alongside a lack of adequate financial support to enable some low-income households to attain or retain suitable accommodation for their needs.