Agenda item

Session Four - Homelessness / Cost of Living


Also in attendance: Councillor Dann, Councillor Penberthy, Ross Jago (Head of Governance, Performance and Risk), Jackie Kings (Community Connections Strategic Manager), Giles Perritt (Assistant Chief Executive), Rachel Silcock (Community Empowerment & Operational Lead), Helen Slater (Lead Accountancy Manager), Chris Squire (Service Director for HROD), Gary Walbridge (Interim Strategic Director for People). 


Councillor Dann (Cabinet Member for Customer Services, Sport, Leisure and HR & OD) introduced her budget area and highlighted: 


a)    The leisure budget was one of the smaller parts of the budget; 

b)    Budget pressures on HR & OD; 

c)    Pressures on IT to keep the Council safe, within a tight budget; 

d)    A budget saving in business support had not been met; 

e)    Cost of Living Action Plan. 


Councillor Penberthy (Cabinet Member for Housing, Cooperative Development and Communities) introduced his budget area and highlighted: 


f)     The areas his portfolio covered; 

g)    He wanted to focus on homelessness, which had been rising nationally due to the cost of living crisis, changes to rental legislation; 

h)    2044 households approached the Council for homelessness support in 2019/20, and the forecast for 2022/23 was over 3700; 

i)     The increase in demand had led to an increase in the number of households in emergency accommodation and there had been an increase in the cost of nightly paid accommodation; 

j)     A homelessness taskforce had been set up to help drive a homelessness recovery plan as well as develop a new plan for homes; 

k)    Alternative forms of temporary accommodation; 

l)     Increase in homelessness prevention; 

m)  New affordable accommodation; 

n)    Additional money had been put into the budget for homelessness. 


In response to questions, the following was discussed: 


o)    Digital access to contact the Council, and provision for those who were not able to contact digitally; 

p)    Rough sleeper numbers fluctuated between 10-20 per night; 

q)    £1 million savings target was achievable with changes, meaning that costs would be covered by housing benefit; 

r)    £10 million was to be spent on family housing to help reduce the cost of temporary accommodation; 

s)     Increased affordable housing provision and use of a direct delivery model; 

t)     Plan for Homes 4 was due to go to the Growth and Infrastructure Overview and Scrutiny Committee in February 2024 for pre-decision scrutiny; 

u)    Refugee and asylum seeker support schemesand partnership working; 

v)    Work with partners on housing pipeline; 

w)   Utilisation of technology and automation to be used for some administrative tasks to free up members of staff for other, more complex tasks; 

x)    Blue badge application support; 

y)    No separate budget for gypsy and traveller encampments; 

z)    23 encampments in 2022/23, with an expected drop in 2023/24; 

aa)  Targeted hardening of sites of unauthorised encampments; 

bb)Sites in the Joint Local Plan were being focused on within the Plan for Homes 4; 

cc)  There were no plans to release any land in 2024/25, so no budget line for income on this matter; 

dd)IT support provision within community sector; 

ee)Modernisation of Plymouth City Council’s website; 

ff)    Agency workers; 

gg)  Senior leadership team vacancies; 

hh)Apprenticeship opportunities; 

ii)    Absence rates; 

jj)    Mental Health support and prevention; 

kk)Work with partners on homelessness support for young people; 

ll)    Plymouth Active Leisure subsidies and work on increasing revenue; 

mm)Corporate property maintenance prioritisation; 

nn)Homelessness register review; 

oo)Strategicpartnerships to generate investment and housing projects; 

pp)Additional pay grades, specialist roles; 

qq)Development of a people plan, to include a focus on apprenticeships, recruitment and retention; 

rr)  Community centres; 

ss)   Lobbying government for longer term, more holistic funding and the household support fund continuation.