Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Oxford Town Hall
Contact: Stefan Robinson
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS
Welcome from the Chair and brief round table introductions.
The Chair explained the purpose of the review, and welcomed guests to the meeting. She also provided an overview of the discussion had at the previous meeting on 21 August 2018, and invited guests to introduce themselves.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
To receive any apologies for absence.
There were no apologies for absence from councillors.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
To consider any declarations of interest.
There were no declarations of interest from councillors.
As background information, the meeting has been provided with:
· A research report from the Scrutiny Officer. Only members of the Review Group will have access to appendix 1, as this contains information that is exempt from publication under paragraphs 2 and 3 of Part 1, Section 12A, of the Local Government Act 1972.
· Appendix 2 – A report from 19 July review group meeting summarising the current policy context.
· Appendix 3 – An extract of the Crisis analysis of cost savings associated with Housing First initiatives in Liverpool (as referenced at the previous meeting).
Guests will be invited to make any opening statements if they wish. The meeting will then move to questions and open discussion. As of 23 August, confirmed guests include:
· Sue Jackson - Oxford Street Population Outreach Manager
· Elizabeth Edwards – The Big Issue and Homes4All Oxfordshire
· Paul Roberts – Aspire Oxfordshire
· Janine Bailey – Gimme5
· Jeannette Filja - Gimme5
Key questions and themes may include:
a) What are the roles of the Outreach Team, Aspire and Gimme5?
b) How much discretion are outreach workers allowed to support those without a local connection? Does the policy offer flexibility?
c) What proportion of the people you support do not have a local connection?
d) What would be the impact of opening larger parts of the pathway/creating new accommodation provision for those without local connection?
e) Are there opportunities to save money whilst expanding services?
f) What are the best and worst examples from elsewhere of service provision for those without a local connection?
g) What are the barriers to reconnecting people with an area where they have a local connection?
h) The Council currently makes exemptions to the local connection policy for: care leavers, those at risk of violence, those protected under a military covenant, those with no connection to any other area, and those with a clear connection to the County. Are there any other groups that you think should be added to the exemptions list?
i) How effective and accurate do you think central government guidance is on counting and collecting data on rough sleepers?
j) What are the ‘small’ ways the current system for people experiencing homelessness could adapt to make things better?
k) Are there examples where rough sleepers have been let down by the system.
The Review Group asked guests to give their views on the current local connection policy in relation to homelessness services. Jan Bailey, from Gimme5, explained that many people sleeping rough do not have a local connection to Oxford. She had supported one individual in getting to hospital after developing pneumonia, and she supported that person after they were discharged with no accommodation. She said she could not secure funding for that person to travel on the bus to collect their prescriptions, but Sue Jackson, Street Population Outreach Manager, said her team would have been able to support that person. Jan Bailey also said some women sleeping rough were pregnant and there were some elderly rough sleepers with no recourse to public funds. She suggested that a key challenge was having written proof of someone’s local connection.
Sue Jackson added that there were several misconceptions about the services that are available for people sleeping rough, and there were exemptions to the local connection policy for those who were most vulnerable. There were more barriers to helping people with no recourse to public funds than those without a local connection.
Elizabeth Edwards, from the Big Issue and Homes4All Oxfordshire, had some observations about the current local connection policy:
1) Residency: Proving residency is difficult for those people who:
· Are sofa surfing,
· In rehab, prison or hospital
· Living in hostels or other supported accommodation
· Are living without permission in a council property, or
· Have fallen out with their landlord.
2) Family Connection: the criteria would benefit from including connections to children in Oxford. There was an example of one mother being offered accommodation in Bristol when her children were in Oxford.
3) Exemptions: Proving that it is unsafe for someone to return to another area through reconnection is difficult. There were other dangers such as drugs debts that are not evidenced in the same way as domestic violence reports, for example. The exemptions list should also include those with significant mental health challenges.
Sue Jackson explained that there were examples of people being exempt from the local connection criteria due to mental health vulnerabilities. There were also exemptions granted for people who had no local connection to any local authority area. Following questions about the discretionary aspects of the exemptions policy, Sue Jackson explained that she considered the policy flexible enough for the cases that the Outreach Team dealt with. She reiterated that it was those with no recourse to public funds that were the most challenging cases. There was also a lack of facilities in other neighbouring districts.
Sue Jackson said that within the Outreach Team case load (which did not reflect the overall homelessness context in Oxford) 8% had no local connection to Oxfordshire and 14% had a connection to Oxfordshire. In addition, another 16% had no recourse to public funds, and 7% were offered exemptions under the local connection policy. Those with no local connection were a minority of cases. The Review Group noted that further clarity was needed on ... view the full minutes text for item 20.
To note the minutes of the previous meeting held on 21 August 2018.
The Review Group noted the minutes of the previous meeting held on 21 August 2018.
DATES OF FUTURE MEETINGS
To note the Review Group’s next meeting dates, commencing at 5pm:
· 17 September (TBC)
· 2 October 2018 (forming draft conclusions and recommendations)
The Review Group noted its next meeting dates as follows:
· 17 September at the Gatehouse
· 2 October at the Town Hall
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
To consider any other business.
REPORTS CONTAINING CONFIDENTIAL OR EXEMPT INFORMATION
Please note that Appendix 1 of item 4 is exempt from publication under paragraphs 2 and 3 of Part 1, Section 12A, of the Local Government Act 1972. If the Review Group wishes to exclude the press and the public from the meeting during consideration of this item, it will be necessary to pass a resolution to that effect.