Investigation into homelessness in South Tyneside to reveal its findings
In 2017, South Tyneside Council’s People Select Committee launched a commission into how the authority and its partners manage the problem.
This includes both rough sleeping and those at risk of homelessness.
Across the borough, the top three reasons for people losing their home include family issues, the end of a private rented tenancy or domestic abuse.
Under the Homelessness Reduction Act – which came into force last year – councils now have a duty to both prevent and relieve homelessness.
On Tuesday, June 4 councillors will discuss final recommendations from the commission which aims to make a difference to those in crisis.
Key changes include a new ‘Safeguarding in Partnership Team’ made up of representatives from various agencies to coordinate some of the most complex cases.
Work is ongoing on the use and licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation in the borough and this work will be taken forward across the region.
And the council has also increased the number of properties used for temporary accommodation which will be adjusted as demand for the service changes.
According to a council report, there are a “very low number of rough sleepers” in the borough with those known contacted frequently by the council and partners.
At the last rough sleeper count on October 17, 2018 only one rough sleeper was identified.
Following a request by the commission, the definition of homelessness will also be clarified in council literature.
This aims to ensure there is a distinction made between rough sleepers and other types of homeless people such as “sofa surfers” and those in temporary accommodation.
Chairman of the committee, Coun John McCabe, said: “Homelessness has wider implications than just a physical space.
“A home provides roots, identity and a sense of belonging and emotional wellbeing.
“We know that homelessness can be an isolating and destructive experience and that is why we are committed to doing as much as we can to help those affected.”
Other changes include extra information, signposting and staff training around Universal Credit.
In recent months, the benefit system has been blamed for pushing South Tyneside residents into debt and food poverty.
A new ‘Help to Claim’ service aims to support those moving over from ‘legacy benefits’ with extra digital support, benefit checks and budgeting advice.
The People Select Committee meeting will be held at 10am at South Shields Town Hall.
For more information, visit: www.southtyneside.gov.uk
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service