Staffing and resources puts pressure on homelessness programme
Town halls have protested that pressures on staffing and resources are hindering councils’ ability to undertake the coalition’s flagship homelessness scheme.
Inside Housing has found that many councils believe staff shortages are proving a barrier to fully undertake the government’s £1.7m Gold Standard scheme, which was launched by former housing minister Mark Prisk in April 2013.
The Gold Standard scheme aims to improve standards by requiring councils to undertake ‘diagnostic peer reviews’ (DPR) in which two councils assess an authority’s homelessness service and provide recommendations for improvement.
By May only 18 of 316 councils were in the process of conducting or had conducted a DPR.
Havant Borough Council said it could not say when it would undertake a DPR “due to pressure of work”, and the fact that “applicants approaching for help have increased”.
Wyre Forest District Council said it had no timeline for a DPR “due to officer resources” and Chorley Borough Council warned that its involvement would depend upon “having sufficient staffing capacity”.
The strongest criticism came from North West Leicestershire District Council, which said the programme had “been seen by many as stating the obvious and a way of keeping the specialist advisors in post”.
“We’ve had to balance making a choice between continued service delivery for vulnerable customers or diverting considerable staff capacity to a diagnostic peer review that at present is seen to bring little reward,” the council said.
Homelessness charity Shelter warned in November that many town halls were “desperate to safeguard their scarce resources”.
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