The Committee scrutinised the following items:
Cabinet Board Proposals
4.1 Housing Options Service
The Committee received information in relation to the Housing Options Service, as contained within the circulated report.
Members queried the lack of affordable housing available for vulnerable individuals. Officers explained that the service had not seen an increase in numbers presenting, but the complexity of cases had increased. In addition, this resulted in difficulty in accessing suitable and affordable accommodation. Officers stated that some individuals with complex needs were unable to manage their tenancy. In some instances, Gofal were able to provide support to individuals with Mental Health needs. Officers added that the service was also looking at recruiting a Mental Health Support Worker to assist with these cases. Assistance was also given to vulnerable individuals to help manage their finances to prevent a problem with tenancies. Support is provided until the individual is confident to manage their own finances.
Members asked what health provision was available to individuals with no fixed address. Officers informed the Committee there were two General Practitioners available in the area who provided health support.
Members queried why there was still rough sleepers if the introduction of the Housing Act 2014 had given more options for the authority housing. Officers explained the criteria was used fully to enable us to assist homeless presentations but that in some instances it was a life choice but support was still offered.
Members queried the process that is in place for emergency calls during non-working hours. Officers explained that there was a 24 hour telephone duty service provided by the Duty Team. Emergency Support would be provided with a full assessment undertaken the following day. Funding has been received from Welsh Government specifically to improve services for rough sleepers. As a result a night shelter has been opened 7 nights a week until the end of March. This will be monitored to establish the need going forward. In addition, during winter months the service provides winter provision for rough sleepers from Bed and Breakfast accommodation to sleeping bags, hats and gloves dependant on the preference of the person. Third sector organisations also provide refreshments once a week.
Members asked in relation to temporary accommodation, would the tenants receive housing benefits immediately. Officers explained an application form would be completed the day the tenant moved in and the process would be exactly the same.
Members queried whether there was any temporary accommodation available outside the Neath area. Officers explained that work was ongoing to develop a unit in Port Talbot. Temporary accommodation was available in Neath but when looking to move individuals to permanent accommodation this would be in their home area.
Members asked how do the individuals travel to their allocated temporary accommodation if they are not in any of the town centres. Officers said that this would form part of the assessment.
Members asked what was the process for ensuring the safety of individuals being placed in temporary accommodation outside the Neath Port Talbot area. It was explained that officers liaise with relevant officers in the neighbouring authorities to ensure there was no inappropriate mix of individuals being accommodated.
Discussion took place on the Social Lettings Agency and whether there was any difficulties in recruiting suitable landlords. It was explained that the Agency currently has 60 properties and are proactively working to increase this number with various initiative for example providing loans to landlords to update empty properties. Officers confirmed that they only used landlords who achieved the required standard.
Discussion took place on case studies presented to Members for their information.
Members were appreciative of the service that is provided by Housing Options and emphasised the need to communicate this provision externally..
Following scrutiny, it was agreed that the report be noted.