Rough Sleeper Initiative Grant Funding bid
Report of the Cabinet Member Housing
The Cabinet Member Housing presented the report and emphasised that the circumstances that led a person to become a rough sleeper were never the same, so they could not take a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with it. Cases were often complex and deeply entrenched, involving substance or alcohol abuse, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), the leaving of residential care, hospital or the services, PTSD or simply bad luck, and it was important not to judge anyone who found themselves in that position.
The funding for the initiative came from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and gave local authorities the opportunity to apply for grant funding to reduce rough sleeping in their area. For the last five years, RSI grant funding had been made available by DLUHC on an annual basis and CBC had been able to support a number of successful initiatives as a result. This time however, the funding applied for would be available for a three year period to March 2025, potentially enabling CBC to undertake longer term planning to tackle rough sleeping in Cheltenham and introduce even more support.
It was a joint bid involving all the local housing authorities in the county, with Gloucester City Council submitting the bid as lead partner. If successful, the grant would cover funding for a number of jointly commissioned county-wide services, focusing on preventing rough sleeping; supporting those currently sleeping rough to move off the streets; supporting those who had slept rough in the past to ensure they did not return to the streets; and ensuring that systems and structures were in place to embed change and to monitor progress. In addition to this, a ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub’ would continue in Cheltenham.
The value of the grant would be somewhere between £2m-£3m, and would enable the council to commission Multiple Disadvantage Team and Complex Need Navigators, an Assertive Outreach Service and an Offending Housing Interventions Officer. Alongside these county-wide initiatives, CBC would fund an ACE-led trauma-informed post and an Intensive Tenancy Management post.
He highlighted section 2.3 of the report, which outlined the Cheltenham-specific initiative. This required £96k funding over three years, which both CBC and Cheltenham Borough Homes (CBH) had committed to match-fund via the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget due to be approved by Council on the 21st February. If successful, this funding would enable an ACE-led, trauma-informed post and an Intensive Tenancy Management post to complement the Enhanced Housing Support Service. These posts would be managed by CBH, and would focus on working with the six ex-rough sleepers who had been accommodated within their housing-led properties, and they would then expand their work to include the next six rough sleepers as and when suitable properties became available to accommodate them – thus doubling the council’s provision to twelve. The deadline for submitting the bid was 25th February.
The Cabinet Member Cyber and Strategic Transport praised the report and thanked the Cabinet Member Housing for highlighting the most important points. Rough sleeping was a complex issue that was often not as simple as just not having access to accommodation. He asked whether there was sufficient flexibility in their approach to adapt to changing needs. The Cabinet Member Housing responded that he was confident that this was the case, and that they would constantly monitor progress so they knew when to adapt.
Martin Stacy, Lead Commissioner – Housing, added that the three-year contract would provide revenue certainty and allow them to plan more solidly for the future. Their approach focused on intensive support early on so people could live independently sooner rather than later, rather than relying on support that could be reduced or removed at the end of the three year period.
The Cabinet Member Finance and Assets echoed the need to provide continual support to those who needed it most, and to prevent them becoming disconnected from their community people. He was pleased to see that they were not playing politics with the issue, and were working closely with the county council and other bodies wherever they could help.
The Cabinet Member Safety and Communities highlighted the focus on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), which overlapped with the council’s work on No Child Left Behind. There would always be plenty of work still to do, and the council had a responsibility to do all it could to support vulnerable residents.
The Leader moved to the vote, where it was unanimously:
1. Cheltenham Borough Council be included in the joint bid for RSI grant funding 2022-25, to be submitted by Gloucester City Council;
2. The grant funding offer be accepted (in the event that the grant funding bid is successful) and authority be delegated to the Lead Commissioner – Housing to enter into any relevant agreements associated with this bid. ;
3. Authority be delegated to the Lead Commissioner – Housing, in consultation with the Cabinet Member Housing and s.151 Officer, to agree to any uplift to Cheltenham Borough Council’s financial commitment in respect of this grant funding application (should this be required prior to the funding bid deadline of 25th February 2022);
4. Our provision of housing-led accommodation be increased from 6 to 12 dwellings, as detailed at section 2.2.5 of this report, provided that our grant funding application for the extension to our Enhanced Housing Support Service is successful.