Homelessness Support Services

Closed 31 Mar 2017

Opened 27 Feb 2017


The Council is currently facing a very serious budget challenge. There has been significant loss of Revenue Support Grant from central Government with a reduction of £57.5m between 2011/12 and 2019/20; £49.1m of this has been lost already. This has put major pressure on the Council’s budget and despite £70 million of savings being agreed since 2010; latest estimates show the Council still faces a £44 million funding gap to 2019/20 where these funding cuts come at a time of increased demands on services. Further savings therefore need to be made to set an affordable budget in the future.

Reading Borough Council is committed to ensuring that decreasing resources are used in the most effective way and to continuing to provide coordinated and effective support services to single homeless people and households that are at risk of homelessness in Reading.

The services that the Council currently commission are:

  • A rough sleeper street outreach service that supports rough sleepers to access supported accommodation or reconnect to their area of origin.
  • 217 supported accommodation bed spaces for individuals/couples who are homeless, collectively referred to as the Homelessness Pathway. The Pathway comprises 73 units offering intensive support within a 24-hour staffed environment and 132 units of move-on accommodation where individuals develop their basic living skills to move-on into independent accommodation. There are also seven assessment units and five units used for longer term clients.
  • A cross-tenure floating support service which supports individuals, couples and families with tenancy sustainment and homelessness prevention.

Collectively the services outlined are referred to as Homelessness Support Services and these form part of the Council’s overall strategic commitment to reduce homelessness across the borough.

We want to re-model our current Homelessness Support Services so that they can provide more flexible and innovative ways of delivering services to single homeless people and those at risk of homelessness to better meet their needs. The aim is for the revised service model to encompass new ideas and national best practice to optimise outcomes and value for money.

Taking into account the Council’s overall financial position and its need to deliver significant budget savings, in remodelling Homelessness Support Services the Council is proposing a reduction in the budget for these services of £245,000 per annum from £1.49m to £1.25m. This is approximately 17% of the contract values of Reading’s Homelessness Support Services.

We have considered national guidance, explored new ways to tackle homelessness and taken into account best practice from other local authority area models. In reshaping and redeveloping Homelessness Support Services we are proposing that a number of key principles underpin our approach:

  1. Immediate and emergency responses to those who are homeless or rough sleeping.
    Key features of this would be a:
    • A hub that centralises accommodation and support services available to those who are homeless or rough sleeping, including emergency assessment beds and hostel accommodation for those that need 24/7 on-site staffing support.
    • Rough sleeper outreach team focussed on supporting rough sleepers into accommodation and reconnecting those without a local connection to their area of origin.
    • No Second Night Out (NSNO) model to ensure that anyone who is sleeping rough for the first time receives a rapid response offer to prevent them sleeping out for a second night.
    • Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) to provide emergency bed spaces for rough sleepers, regardless of their immigration or local connection status, during short periods of high risk weather.
  2. Housing and support offers to address the differing needs of single homeless people
    Key features of this would be:
    • Shared supported accommodation that provides a high level of support where staff are not on site but available when required 24/7, as well as shared accommodation for people who do not require a high level of support, but are presently unable to manage independent living.
    • Some accommodation under Housing First principles where an unconditional offer of stable, independent housing is made alongside intensive support for people with multiple and complex needs where more conventional supported accommodation offers have been unsuccessful.
    • A Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) approach across services for complex individuals that have ineffective contact with statutory and support services where cross-sector partners find shared, flexible solutions and develop a coordinated approach.
    • Psychologically and trauma informed practice and principles within all services to take into account the psychological make-up, experiences and needs of its users. This is effective for those who have experienced complex trauma in child or adulthood.
    • The delivery of gender informed homelessness support services that understand that women experience homelessness and interact with support in ways that are unique to their gender.
    • Wrap-around support to ensure that if an individual's needs increase, a move into alternative accommodation is a last resort.
  3. Services that pre-empt and prevent homelessness
    Key features of this principle would be a:
    • Cross-tenure floating support service that offers support to those who are at risk of homelessness, require support sustaining their accommodation or with accessing alternative accommodation.
    • No First Night Out (NFNO) approach to explore why individuals are sleeping rough for the first time and create locally tailored pre-emptive measures to identify 'pre-rough sleepers' at a phase of their housing crisis which precedes rough sleeping.

Due to a reduction in the budget for Homelessness Support Services there will be a reduction in bed spaces within supported accommodation services. However, by proposing a new model that reviews the price paid per support hour and improves the effectiveness of commissioned services we will seek to minimise the impact upon individuals that use these services.

We want your help to prioritise and shape which services are important to Reading residents, stakeholders, homelessness sector partners, those that use Reading’s Homelessness Support Services and partners in sectors that link to these services by taking part in this consultation.

We will be meeting with current Homelessness Support Service providers and service users who may be affected by this proposal within the consultation period.

More information on the proposed changes to Homelessness Support Services

Why We Are Consulting

We are seeking views from Reading residents, stakeholders, homelessness sector partners, those that use Reading’s Homelessness Support Services and partners in sectors that link to these services to understand:

  • Local priorities for Homelessness Support Services and why.
  • The impact of reducing funding for Homelessness Support Services to £1.25m upon those who are single and homeless, rough sleeping and those households at risk of homelessness.
  • How we can best support people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
  • How the remodeling of the borough’s Homelessness Support Services may or may not meet the needs of those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

What Happens Next

A report on the response to this consultation will be made at the Council’s Policy Committee or Housing Neighbourhoods and Leisure Committee by May 2017.


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