Working with Families to Stop Homelessness

Today we launched a new Mediation & Conflict Resolution Service in partnership with Relationships Scotland.

One of the five strategic priorities agreed for our Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan is to increase the focus on prevention to stop homelessness in the first place. Relationship breakdown continues to be the most common reason for homeless applications in Angus, supporting the need for an introduction of mediation or conflict resolution intervention.

Relationships Scotland (Family Mediation Tayside & Fife) will deliver the mediation and conflict resolution service in Angus. The key anticipated outcomes of the service are:

Families, young people and individuals will resolve conflict to allow the family to remain together in the family home, where it is safe and agreed to do so.

Where a move is agreed, the family or individual will improve communication and enhance relationships with family members to ensure that the move can be completed in a planned and supported way. Individuals/family members will have increased access to further support from other services in Angus, both in house and externally to further minimise the risk of homelessness.

The family mediation and conflict resolution service will be able to accept referrals from a wide range of agencies and also accept self-referrals. If you feel that you and your family would benefit from the mediation and conflict resolution service, then please get in touch using this form.

After referral, Relationships Scotland will contact the family, couple or individual who has been referred and will arrange to start the mediation process.

Mediators main roles will be:

  • Being responsible for the assessment and provision of an impartial mediation service to help people avoid irretrievable family breakdown by working with family members to resolve difficult issues and to establish mutually agreed courses of action.
  • To make use of a range of approaches including individual and family group work, to assist families to communicate better with one another and to manage the conflict that can cause distress in the family.
  • To work with people who may be already homeless, to find solutions for re-establishing positive contact with their families.

As well as providing a mediation service, Relationships Scotland will also have a Family Support Worker working in the project. The support worker will actively engage with each referred family to explore any additional support needed. Ongoing meetings will be arranged as appropriate to the family’s circumstances.

The Support Worker will also support the family outside of mediation and will follow up matters after the mediation has finished.

For more information, download the project flyer below.

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Our Plans to Increase Affordable Housing in Angus

Our aspiring Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) was approved by Councillors last week.

The SHIP was developed in partnership with Housing Associations and the Angus Health and Social Care Partnership, along with our own planning and property services sections. The main purpose of the Plan is to set out the investment priorities for affordable housing over a five year period.

The SHIP makes sure we and our partners deliver housing which meets the needs of the local community and informs Scottish Government investment decisions. It includes affordable housing supply through new build, replacement, renovation and re-modelling.

We and our partners aim to deliver 120 new affordable homes each year, significantly increasing development over the lifetime of the LHS and beyond. This target was exceeded in 2018/19 with 128 units delivered across Angus. Up to the end of August 2019, 38 units have been completed, and it’s likely that the target of 120 units will be exceeded again this year.

Funding for affordable housing has been increased in recent years to meet the national target of 50,000 affordable homes within the lifetime of the current Scottish parliament. Our SHIP estimates that around 510 units could be delivered in the period to 2024/25, with the Council set to deliver around 272 of those homes.

New Tenant Participation Strategy Launched

The launch of the Angus Tenant & Community Engagement Strategy 2019-2022 took place last week at Arbroath Academy. The new strategy was presented by our tenant representatives and two elected members, Cllr Tommy Stewart and Cllr Lois Speed.

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The purposes of the strategy is to improve how we engage with our tenants and communities and to meet outcomes and standards of the Scottish Social Housing Charter

It sets out 6 priorities:

  • Establish an E-panel for consultations and information sharing
  • Establish a Scrutineers panel
  • Promote and advertise tenant participation in the best format for our tenants and review and revise our information regularly
  • Give recognition for learning and participation through awards and accreditations
  • Develop local area action plans in partnership with our local Community Housing Teams
  • Produce a calendar of tenant participation opportunities

The full Strategy document can be found here.

John Morrow, Service Leader – Housing, highlighted the importance of the strategy for Angus. He said:

At a time of great change, it’s more important than ever for tenants to have a voice in shaping our policies. We want to be sure that what we do reflects the things that are important to customers. Whether that means installing new bathrooms, building new council houses, keeping our rents at some of the lowest in Scotland, or making sure that repairs are done right first time, it’s only through listening to tenant views that we really learn what our priorities should be.

This Tenant Engagement strategy sets out how we will encourage a greater level participation, including a broader representation and age range, as we don’t currently have many young people actively participating. So the Strategy sets out a wider range of communication methods, including the Housing Blog and the new e-panel, designed to reach many more people.

I hope that tenants will play a greater role in helping to keep us on track to deliver good services in return for reasonable rents, and help us demonstrate value for money, not just to our customers, but also to the Scottish Housing Regulator as one of the principles of the Scottish Social Housing Charter. I think if we can help make the link better between the big picture issues, and rents and investment, and what really matters for tenants in their home, then we can get more people interested in being involved.

And that is exactly what this Tenant Engagement Strategy is designed to achieve.

 

 

 

Hard Work of Tenants and Staff on the Tenant Participation Strategy Recognised at a Celebratory Event in Arbroath

Tenants and staff were thanked for their hard work in preparing the new Tenant and Community Engagement Strategy 2019 – 2022 at an event recently held at Dundee and Angus College in Arbroath. The new strategy will set out the vision and action plan for tenant involvement and engagement for the next three years.

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The event was chaired by John Morrow, Housing Service Leader, and Angela Quirie, Housing Policy Officer, gave a presentation detailing how the strategy was developed.

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The strategy will be formally launched at an event at a later date.

Improving Below Tolerable Standard Properties in Angus

We have developed a Below Tolerable Standard (BTS) strategy to help improve the condition of properties in Angus. The strategy is part of the current Local Housing Strategy 2017-22

The Tolerable Standard is the basic level of repair a property must meet to make it fit for a person to live in. The basic level of repair is measured against 12 criteria and failure against any of these makes a property below the tolerable standard. A property that falls below the tolerable standard is not acceptable as living accommodation.

By implementing our strategy we want to:

  • Raise awareness of, identify and address poor housing
  • Gather localised data relating to BTS housing characteristics
  • Reduce the number of homes that are below the tolerable standard
  • Prevent more homes from falling below the tolerable standard by encouraging homeowners to repair, maintain and improve their homes

If you are aware of a property that you believe to be below the tolerable standard and if, after the owner/landlord has been notified of the problem:

  • it is not attended to satisfactorily, or
  • if there is disagreement about whether there is a problem

please contact our Environmental Health Team. You can report your concerns using our General Enquiry Form

For more information see our website.

 

 

 

Tenant Participation Strategy Update

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Last Thursday we sat down again with our Tenant Steering Group, to give them the 1st draft of the new Tenant Participation Strategy. Some of the members looked over the draft document and they said they were happy that all their comments and feedback had been taken on board.

The group will take away the draft to fully review it and come back at the next meeting to give full feedback and comments. Initial thoughts were positive and we look forward to the next meeting to get a good discussion going about the content of the draft.

If you would like to get involved with Tenant Participation Strategy please contact TenantParticipation@angus.gov.uk and we will discuss participation options with you, and work out the best way for you to be involved.

Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan in Angus approved

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A 5-year Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan was approved by Councillors in last week. As we mentioned in the previous post, Local Authorities, have been asked by the Scottish Government to work with local partners to bring forward a 5-year plan by December 2018.

This is a new policy to address homelessness more pro-actively; through prevention, by moving people through temporary accommodation quicker, and by improving the support they receive through better co-ordination.

Prevention will be the first priority, and that means directing resources to things such as mental health support, combating substance abuse, and helping prevent relationship breakdown. For those who do become homeless we will prioritise the allocation of our accommodation to them so that we can deliver the support they need to re-establish themselves quickly in the community. For that to happen we also need the help and understanding of the community.

We and our partners will also need to increase allocations to homeless households to 58% of all lets initially. So for us, out of the 800 changes of tenancy in the first year, we estimate that around 464 of those will be allocated to homeless households.

The main aim of the Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan will be provide long-term housing provision for Angus citizens, at a time when they are most vulnerable.

This plan sets out how we in Angus can achieve that aim over the next 5 years. Successful implementation of the plan will result in:

  • Increased focus on prevention, to reduce homeless applications
  • Reduced the time it takes to process homeless cases
  • Reduced time spent in temporary accommodation
  • Reducing the number of temporary accommodation units and instead helping support people into permanent housing quicker
  • Increasing tenancy sustainment 

Delivering New Affordable Housing in Angus


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Our ambitious Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) was approved by Councillors this week. It plans to deliver more than 600 new affordable homes in Angus by March 2024. This will be delivered in partnership with our housing association partners to provide affordable homes for social rent across Angus. The investment plan has been submitted to the Scottish Government for approval.

The plans set out how best to use over £44 million from the Affordable Housing Supply Programme for building affordable homes in Angus to meet housing need and create places that people can be proud to call home.

Communities Convener, Cllr Mark Salmond said:

This is an ambitious investment plan, but one that with our housing partners, we are committed to delivering upon. Everyone should have access to good quality, affordable housing and a place to call home. This investment will help us deliver that as well as support plans, also approved by the Council today, to ensure people who experience homelessness can access settled housing as quickly as possible.

We want people and families to feel that where they live provides much more than just a roof over their heads. We are committed to delivering good quality, safe, secure, sustainable and affordable housing within environments that meet people’s needs. That includes adapted, specialist and supported housing.

This announcement is also great news for the construction sector in Angus, bringing the certainty that comes from knowing there will be continued investment in house-building from the Council and our housing association partners.

Delivering Houses People are Proud to Call Home

More than 600 new homes will be built by Angus Council and local housing associations in the county over the next five years, with the support of a £25 million Scottish Government funding package.

This significant and ambitious investment in bricks and mortar will see the creation of modern, affordable and sustainable accommodation that people can be proud to call home.

Our communities committee approved the Local Housing Strategy and Strategic Housing Investment Plan on 26 September. Both of these will help to drive the delivery of these new homes for people in Angus.

craig fCommunities convener, councillor Craig Fotheringham, said, “We will improve the provision of affordable housing across Angus by building houses of the highest quality in the places where people need them most. Doing so will further enhance Angus’ ever-growing reputation as a great place to live, work and visit. Accessibility and energy efficiency will be the cornerstones of our housing design, so that we deliver homes that will stand the test of time for the benefit of people now and in future generations.”

lhsOur Local Housing Strategy sets out how we will improve housing in Angus – creating homes of which people can be proud – and how the supply of affordable homes will be increased to help match demand and people’s needs, as well as enabling them to live independent lives. It states how the council will improve the quality and energy efficiency of all its housing to help tackle fuel poverty and reduce domestic emissions. Supporting the ambition of the strategy, our Strategic Housing Investment Plan will drive the delivery of the strategic objectives.

Objectives include the delivery of 124 affordable homes each year over the next five years (by Angus Council and Housing Associations), including more than 30 homes each year for people who need adapted or specialised housing. The investment plan shows how those targets, which represent a doubling of new build rates, will be delivered and so contribute to the 50,000 national target of new affordable homes. We are committed to delivering 350 affordable homes over the next five years, including units at Viewmount and Chapelpark in Forfar that are set for completion later this year. Work begins onsite at Abbey Quarter in Arbroath shortly.

Both the strategy and the report have good foundations on which to build. Members of the communities committee heard that 87% of Angus Council Housing tenants are satisfied with the quality of their home with 80% considering that they get good value for money for the rent they pay.

W7ArbEastCllrSpeedOur communities vice-convener, councillor Lois Speed, said, “We are very pleased that 83% of our tenants are satisfied with the service they receive, but we are determined to ensure that we keep improving.”