Homeless Service Improvement Plan Progress

Councillors sitting on the Communities Committee will be asked to note and scrutinise progress with the Homeless Service Improvement Plan when they meet on Thursday 20 October.

At an earlier committee meeting this year, members agreed the outcomes of the North Star self-assessment report and the subsequent Homeless Service Improvement Plan to address the areas highlighted in the North Star report.

Thanks to regular and constructive dialogue with the Scottish Housing Regulator, the Council’s immediate focus on delivering service benefits to service users whilst ensuring we meet statutory and legislative requirements are being achieved. The Regulator meets with key housing staff on a regular basis and has given the Council assurances that it will continue to do so in order to allow us to continue to improve in key areas.

The immediate work focussed on 4 key areas from the North Star review. These were;

Initial contact process
Section 5 referral process
Homeless assessment decisions
Appeals process

The initial contact process has undergone a massive overhaul in recent months, and the new streamlined system went live in august this year. Last month, the section 5 referral process also went live. Regular scrutiny and an improved feedback mechanism for staff mean that both these changes are having positive outcomes for service users. Of the 52 recommendations made in the North Star report, 34 of them have been started by our Council and are either complete or at least partially complete.

As well as the day to day operational changes that’ll see us providing a better, more effective service to the public, there are a number of strategy and policy changes that our Council is also developing. As part of this work, we’ve created a Homeless Forum, which will allow partners from a range of stakeholders to meet regularly and aid us in creating relevant and effective polices and strategies to continue to improve the Homeless Service with Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Chairman of Communities Committee, Councillor Tom McAughtrie welcomed the progress to date and acknowledged there was still much to do;

“I welcome this progress report, and on reading through it, I believe we’re moving in the right direction. The Homeless Service still has a long way to go to meet all of the recommendations contained within the North Star report, but by improving the services we provide to our customers, we are well on our way. The Homeless Forum is a positive step forward to allow us to shape our strategies and policies around service provision in the future. Our Council made a commitment to putting right what the report said was wrong, and given time and using the feedback from service users, I am confident we’ll get there.”

You can read the full report that will go before Councillors at; http://egenda.dumgal.gov.uk/aksdumgal/users/public/admin/kab14.pl?operation=SUBMIT&meet=3&cmte=MUN&grpid=public&arc=71

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