TEIGNBRIDGE Council is celebrating after its Housing Options Team was announced as being the highest scoring authority out of all Devon authorities in how it deals with and prevents homelessness.
The high score means Teignbridge residents are getting a good service, whether they are trying to stay in their homes or need assistance into private accommodation.
All housing advice services across the county were independently audited by the Devon Housing Options Partnership against a national standard for service provision.
They were scored against a framework devised for the Department for Communities and Local Government by Shelter and the National Homelessness Advice Service.
The framework is a ‘critical friend’ assessment of how a local authority is in tackling homelessness. It looked at the way homelessness and housing prevention cases were dealt with, carried out some mystery shopping, reviewed the service management and considered customer service.
It recognised good practice, identified gaps in service provision and made recommendations for service improvement. The aim was to make sure the best outcomes are being achieved and that residents are getting a good service.
Each local authority received a report in 2009 and an improvement plan was produced. This exercise was repeated in 2012 – and Teignbridge has come out on top.
Cllr Philip Vogel, Teignbridge District Council’s Executive Spokesperson for Housing and Planning, said: “We are absolutely delighted with this achievement. The Housing Options Team have worked really hard and it has paid off with Teignbridge moving from the bottom quartile in 2009 to the top of the table, beating all other authorities including the unitary authorities of Torbay and Plymouth.
“Teignbridge is doing all it can tackle homelessness – there is more pressure than ever before on housing. Since April we have prevented homelessness for 290 households, taking it to a total of 973 since 2011.
“All our advisors are trained and listen so they can respond sensitively to the needs of the people who walk through our doors asking for help. The high score reflects that and it is pleasing to see all the hard work and commitment is paying off.”
The Council’s dedicated Housing Options Team works to prevent homelessness within the district and responsible for:
• Housing Advice and Assistance
• Homelessness Prevention
• Carrying out the Authority's statutory obligations under the Housing Act 1996 (amended 2002)
• Maintaining applications for social housing through Devon Home Choice, choice based lettings scheme
• Referrals to relevant Support Agencies
• Liaising with Private Sector Landlords
Cllr Vogel said: “We are proud of all the work done so far and are already building on this. We are continuing in our efforts to reduce the number of empty homes across the district, we’re putting on courses for landlords so they can manage their tenancies effectively and our proposed submission Local Plan aims to tackle the housing shortage by making long term plans to ensure there are homes to suit everyone.”