Conference marks progress in tackling homelessness
Press Release: 18/09/2015
Substantial progress in tackling homelessness was marked at the first conference of the National Practitioner Support Service (NPSS) held at the University of Warwick on 1-2 September.
NPSS supports local authorities to prevent homelessness and is funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government to deliver the Gold Standard Programme. This programme was developed from the 2nd Ministerial Working Group paper on homelessness, Making Every Contact Count, published in 2012 which invited local authorities to meet 10 specific local challenges to ensure they are delivering the best frontline housing service possible. The programme is focused on peer support and the sharing of good practice.
The conference, which built on the peer support element of the programme, brought together practitioners from local authorities across the country and demonstrated the significant progress made by local authorities in preventing and tackling homelessness through a number of workshops and masterclasses.
Royal Borough of Greenwich became the first council to meet all 10 challenges and receive the gold standard award while six more achieved the silver standard award and another nineteen bronze status. A further 31 local authorities are working through the challenges to achieve their awards, with 180 authorities already in peer review groups. Of those yet to join many who attended the conference expressed an interest in joining a peer review group.
Tracy Hendren, Head of Housing Options and National Support, said:
The first NPSS conference was a landmark for all of us working to prevent homelessness. The number of local authorities who were awarded certificates at the conference for their achievements is testament to the progress that has been made by the programme and really sets the standard for frontline housing services.
It is equally important, however, that so many other councils attended the conference and are committed to starting their journey towards achieving the benchmark set by the 10 local challenges. This is a peer review process, with homelessness teams across the country learning from the best practice of their colleagues. Real outcomes for the people who need our help are being achieved through the programme – for example, those receiving awards ensure that no 16- and 17-year-olds are placed in bed-and-breakfast accommodation and that each customer receives a clear plan for how their housing advice needs will be met.
The conference was sponsored by Nationwide, which has a strong heritage in the housing sector both as a mortgage lender and lender to Housing Associations.
Jan Luba QC, a leading housing barrister with Garden Court Chambers, clearly stated as part of his presentation the importance of authorities achieving the challenges to safeguard their services and prevent unnecessary court action.
Delegates at the conference commented:
Practical and detailed advice on getting the best out of your homelessness strategy, ensuring the review is detailed and reflects what has happened
Really helpful presentation, good practice and advice.
Among its next initiatives NPSS will launch a free value-for-money tool which will help local authorities to improve their services by measuring the cost of preventing homelessness against the cost of their statutory homelessness duties, demonstrating that prevention is always the more cost-effective option.
The national service is hosted by Winchester City Council, which received the silver award at the conference.