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Challenges of the Coalition government’s reforms to the effective resettlement of single homeless people Tony Warnes and Maureen Crane University of Sheffield.

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Presentation on theme: "Challenges of the Coalition government’s reforms to the effective resettlement of single homeless people Tony Warnes and Maureen Crane University of Sheffield."— Presentation transcript:

1 Challenges of the Coalition government’s reforms to the effective resettlement of single homeless people Tony Warnes and Maureen Crane University of Sheffield Housing Studies Association conference: ‘Housing in Hard Times: Class, Poverty and Social Exclusion’, University of York, April 2011

2 Topics  The FOR-HOME study  Selected findings on housing outcomes  Welfare reforms and the implications for resettlement practice and its success  What is needed

3 To produce authoritative and longitudinal information about: (a) the experiences of homeless people who are resettled, and (b) the factors that influence the outcomes. Funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council Aims of the FOR-HOME study

4 Partner organisations

5 Study design and data collection  The sample: 400 single homeless people resettled into independent accommodation by the collaborating organisations. Two clusters: London, and Nottingham / Leeds / Sheffield (Notts/Yorks).  Semi-structured interviews conducted immediately before being resettled, and after 6 and 15/18 months. Key-worker also completed questionnaire at baseline.  Interviews from June 2007 to March Tracking exercise at 12 months to check respondents whereabouts.

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7 Final report to be published on May 11th. CONTENTS

8 Profile of the study respondents  296 men and 104 women  24% aged years; 39% aged 25-39; 23% aged 40-49; and 14% aged 50+ years.  56% White British, 44% other ethnicity  63% had mental health problems, 33% alcohol problems, 57% drug problems.  18% had been homeless 12 months or less; 50% for months; 18% for 5-10 years; 14% more than 10 years.

9 Housing tenure by region TenureLondon Notts / Yorks Total Percentages Local authority Housing association Private rented Sample sizes(223)(177)(400)

10 Adjustment over time  Most were glad to have moved but found transition far from easy.  At time of moving, three-fifths without basic furniture (bed and cooker). Most reliant on and waiting for Community Care Grant.  Some tenancies in poor condition, heating not working and utilities not connected. Problems across all housing tenures.  Over time, many created ‘a home’ and started to rebuild their lives, e.g. obtained jobs, started education and training courses, renewed contact with family and children  Many continued to struggle to manage finances and pay bills, and debts increased over time. At 15/18 months, only 42% felt they were coping ‘very well’.

11 Housing outcomes at 15/18 months (%) OutcomeLondonNotts/YorksTotal In original accommodation Moved to another tenancy4108 Streets / hostels465 Friends / relatives243 Hospital, prison, rehab.153 Left tenancy, unknown142 Unknown if still in tenancy616 Died161 Sample sizes(223)(177)(400)

12 Housing outcomes at 15/18 months by tenure Excludes people who died, and those for whom it is unknown if they were still in a tenancy.

13 Reasons for high frequency of negative outcomes among private-renters  Dissatisfaction with accommodation – more likely to be rehoused in studio flats or bedsits without separate bedroom.  Poor condition of the accommodation and repairs not done.  Insecurity due to short tenures – for two-thirds, tenures were 12 months or less.  High rents leading to arrears, partly due to loss of or reduced benefits when entering employment, and partly to LHA being paid directly to claimant.  Less likely to have a tenancy support than those in social housing.

14 Average rent arrears (£) at 15/18 months by tenure

15 Percentages with debts over time (£)

16 Participation in education, training, work  Once resettled, many were keen to get into a job, study or work-training programme.  At the time of moving, 9% had jobs (ft or pt). At 15/18 months, 18% had jobs. Many others were looking for work.  Great deal of movement in and out of work – 38% had worked at some time since being rehoused. Many jobs were casual or through an agency, insecure, and low paid.  Strong relationship between intermittent employment and debts and eviction threats.  Association between starting advanced education and vocational courses and debts – loss of entitlement to social security benefits, took out student loans to cover tuition fees and expenses, limited opportunities to work.

17 Rent arrears and action taken by employment status at 15/18 months

18 Tenancy support  Only 51% respondents had contact with a tenancy support (TS) worker after being rehoused.  Young people least likely to have a TS worker yet most likely to have no experience of independent-living. 27% aged compared to 59% above this age had a TS worker.  Strong difference in London – 93% rehoused through the ‘Clearing House’ compared to 37% rehoused in other ways had a TS worker. Only 12% in London aged had this help.  The respondents who had TS received a great deal of help from the worker and most said it was of great benefit to them.  Some without a TS worker sought help from their former hostel – often waited until problems serious. Hostel staff not have the time to deal with complex problems.

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20 Changes to social security benefits Housing Benefit changes:  LHA rates capped at £250 per week for one-bedroom flat (April ’11)  LHA rate set at the 30 th percentile, rather than current 50 th (Oct ’11)  Shared-room rate threshold applied to those aged yrs (Jan ’12)  LHA rates to be set by Consumer Price Index inflation, not local rents which have grown faster than CPI (2013). Proposal to abolish Social Fund (Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans), and funding transferred to local authorities to deliver service. Funding will not be ring-fenced.

21 Changes to housing stock and tenancies  Reduced availability of social housing, and increased reliance on private-rented accommodation for resettlement.  Reducing availability of accommodation that is both low cost and acceptable as long-term homes. Increasing reliance on bedsits for those aged under 35.  Shortening of social housing tenancies proposed in the Localism Bill.  Changes to Clearing House tenancies – two-year tenancies from Sept ’08.

22 Changes to employment and training opportunities  Decreasing availability of secure employment for those with few job skills. Increasing need for qualifications to get reasonably-paid, secure jobs.  Increase in university tuition fees. Replacement of the Education Maintenance Allowance with a Bursary Scheme.  Plans to introduce the Universal Credit (an integrated working-age credit) by 2013 to tackle worklessness and welfare dependency.  Existing government-funded programmes to help long- term unemployed into work to be replaced by a single Work Programme.

23 Cuts to homelessness services Information about extent of Supporting People cuts unclear at present, but Homeless Link is collating data:  Homeless services total funding – projected average reduction of 25% for 2011/12.  Projected that 19% of floating support services will cease and 37% would have staffing reduced.  On 6 April 2011, input from 31% of accommodation services. Reported overall average funding loss of 24.6%. Estimated a loss of 1,807 beds (reduction of 15.9%). Could amount to nearly 7,000 beds across sector.

24 What is needed Photo ‘Leeds high density housing’ by Lynne Kirton

25 Maintaining the success of resettlement Resettlement is becoming more difficult to carry out in ways that satisfy the service users and has successful outcomes. Tasks for the service provider organisations: Necessary to reduce the housing expectations of the service users, particularly those aged less than 35 years, and to prevent undiluted negativism and alienation. Maintain good partnership relations with the local authority, to preserve/maximise Supporting People contracts for both hostel services and tenancy support.

26 Tasks for the service provider organisations: Work even harder to prepare clients for independent living:  Give service users a clearer understanding of what determines their social security benefit and Housing Benefit (LHA) eligibility, particularly in connection with entering or leaving employment and full-time education.  Provide fuller guidance on the management of personal finances, and the financial implications of independent-living. A role for corporate partners and sponsors?  Arrange more peer advice for those who have recently been resettled.  Provide more active help with obtaining basic furniture (or with loans of camp-beds, hobs or microwaves).

27 Tasks for local authorities – officers and elected representatives Work constructively with local homelessness forums and steering groups... to assert the responsibilities and aims of the Local Homelessness Strategy to prevent above-average cuts to the funding for homelessness services Work with homelessness-service providers... to improve the allocation of tenancy support services to develop / facilitate access to closely managed private-rented schemes for resettlement

28 Our warm thanks to … All the respondents who have participated in this study over a very long time. Ruby Fu, Camilla Mercer and Louise Joly who have helped massively with running the project and coding the data. The freelance interviewers – Gary Bellamy, Paul Gilsenan, Louise Joly and John Miles. Members of the Management Committee: David Fisher (Broadway), Caroline Day and Jennifer Monfort (Centrepoint), Peter Radage and Rachel Harding (Framework), Julie Robinson and Tony Beech (St Anne’s), Simon Hughes and George Miller (St Mungo’s), and John Crowther and Debra Ives (Thames Reach), and to all their colleagues who have been Link Workers or have otherwise assisted with recruitment and tracking.

29 Contact details Tony Warnes: Maureen Crane:


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