Posted: Fri 4th Feb 2022

‘Significant improvements’ needed in management of temporary homeless accommodation in Flintshire

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Feb 4th, 2022

An audit of the management of temporary homeless accommodation in Flintshire has identified the need for “significant improvements”. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

A report due to go before councillors next week has identified the current processes in place to support people in the county in need of housing are “inadequate”. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The audit was requested following a sharp rise in demand on Flintshire Council’s housing and prevention service during the Covid pandemic. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

It follows the Welsh Government making a commitment to provide emergency accommodation for individuals experiencing homelessness throughout the pandemic. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The findings of the audit uncovered a lack of guidance for staff on how to deal with situations where people have been refused offers for accommodation and handle rent and contract arrangements. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The internal audit report, which provides a “red” or limited level of assurance where urgent action is needed, states: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, a number of government initiatives were introduced which assisted with the mitigation of homelessness levels. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“As these national mitigations come to an end, there is a strong likelihood of increased pressure on temporary and emergency housing.
“The review has identified that significant improvements are required. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“These relate to the overall control framework including the lack of a homelessness and temporary accommodation policy, undocumented inadequate operational processes and lack of evidence of reliable management information. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Finally due to the lack of documented procedures or evidence of accurate data being used to support decision making we are unable to provide assurance that risks are being mitigated.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The audit report identifies some positive findings, including that the department has “embraced” the changes in legislation designed to keep people off the streets during the pandemic. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

However, information available to managers was described as “limited”, meaning the department’s performance cannot be effectively monitored. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

An action plan has now been drawn up to improve the provision of temporary accommodation in Flintshire. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

In a separate report to councillors, the local authority’s chief executive Neal Cockerton said: “The audit presented an invaluable opportunity for an independent assessment of service and an opportunity to identify areas of focus for service improvement. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“It is key that any growth or future service development opportunities for a larger and more diverse portfolio of leased properties are built upon solid foundations. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“The audit has clearly identified a number of risks associated with the current ways of working and operating practices. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Successful delivery of the service improvement plan will address significant areas of risk and strengthen service delivery providing opportunity for the temporary accommodation portfolio to grow in response to growing demand.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The reports will be considered by members of the council’s community, housing and assets scrutiny committee on Wednesday (February 9, 2022). ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here). ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​


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