by our Staff Writer | Greenwich
The Royal Borough’s successful polices to support thousands of local families to avoid or overcome homelessness have been recognised with the awarding of the government’s national Silver Standard Award.
|Cllr Chris Kirby (front row second from right in grey suit and blue shirt)is pictured in the group shot with Members of the|
Royal GreenwichHousing Forum. (Credit: RBG)
The Royal Borough has the lowest level of temporary accommodation in South East London, and in the last year alone has prevented 1800 families from becoming homeless.
Silver Standard relates to the successful implementation of a range of polices from the Royal Borough and its local partners to reduce homelessness, and the Royal Borough is currently the only local authority to have achieved Silver Standard.
There were a number of specific factors leading the awarding of Silver status including targeted support for young people, (including care leavers), joined up support to prevent eviction and repossession, and a good local plan in place to tackle rough sleeping. In addition the Royal Borough has met tough targets to avoid placing 16 and 17 year olds people in temporary accommodation, and ensuring that families are not kept in temporary housing for long periods of time.
Overall the Royal Borough has successfully demonstrated that is has a clear homelessness strategy in place, with prevention of homelessness at its centre.
The Award was collected at the Woolwich Centre (Wednesday July 15) by Councillor Chris Kirby, the Royal Borough’s Cabinet Member for Housing at a special 10th Anniversary meeting of the Royal Greenwich Housing Forum.
Compared to London boroughs of similar social profile, Royal Greenwich has an impressive track record in preventing homelessness and limiting the numbers of households becoming homeless, living in temporary accommodation, or people sleeping rough. The Royal Borough has almost four times fewer families in temporary accommodation than London as a whole.
With its partners, the Royal Borough’s investment in homelessness prevention services have also helped to minimise the financial and social costs of families living in temporary accommodation.
The local positive local homelessness prevention outcomes in the last year include:
- 1800 local families have avoided becoming homeless as a result of the support provided by the Royal Borough and its partners
- 12,000 people advised on housing issues at the Woolwich Centre
- 3,500 people received dedicated casework assessment and support
- the Royal Borough is in the top five performing local councils across London for the numbers of families in temporary accommodation
- as a proportion of the local population, 3.71 Royal Greenwich households per 1000 are in temporary accommodation, compared to 14.04 across London
- through the Welfare Reform Team more than 200 local families facing eviction have been supported to stay in their homes in the last year
- families are also receiving help to maximise their income with support for under occupying tenants to downsize, to increase their skills and find employment.
Despite these successes the Royal Borough faces a difficult future task tackling homelessness due to a number of factors including very high levels of private sector rents, reduced government funding, and the on-going effects of current and future welfare reforms and benefits caps.
Substantial private sector rent rises have led to a dramatic fall in the number of homes which qualify for housing benefit and house families that cannot access social housing. The Royal Borough works with responsible local landlords and to offer support, incentives and grants to improve their properties for local families in housing need.
In addition, with the increased growth of the private housing sector, the Royal Borough has a robust “Rogue Landlords” team to tackle and enforce against poor quality landlords.
Councillor Chris Kirby, Royal Borough of Greenwich Cabinet Member for Housing said: “Prevention is far better than cure and I’m very clear that the successes we have had to date are directly linked to the policies we’ve adopted to avoid people becoming homeless in the first place."
“The stability of a good quality family home is more likely to support parents into a good job and ensure that their children are able to achieve good results at school."
“Preventative measures demonstrated by all our partners in the Housing Forum also help to minimise the huge extra costs associated with having to place large numbers of families into temporary accommodation."
“The awarding of the Silver award, the first council to achieve this, is a testament to the dedication and continued hard work by all involved over many years. The many challenges we face and acute pressures on resources are increasing all the time, so we will need to re-double our efforts in the years ahead.”