Housing Minister Mark Prisk today (9 April 2013) announced a new Gold Standard that will set the bar for local homelessness services, protecting this country’s most vulnerable when they face losing their home.
Launching the £1.7 million Gold Standard support and training scheme, the minister said it would showcase the very best services across the country and ensure that homelessness remains the last possible option.
He said that the scheme would also save councils cash by reducing the need for emergency support such as bed and breakfast accommodation - which both costs the council more, and causes disruption for those individuals.
A clear benchmark for prevention
Led by a small expert team based at Winchester City Council and supported by the National Homelessness Advice Service, the peer-led scheme will provide a host of free training and support to help local authority housing options teams learn from each other and gain Gold Standard status.
Expert help will be available to achieve this, including:
- an online toolkit to help councils identify areas for improvement
- free training in some of the most complex issues such as housing law
- expert tailored support to make services run more efficiently
To reach Gold Standard status, councils will need to meet key commitments including:
- offering a comprehensive prevention service, with advice and support for single people as well as families in need
- working with local agencies to provide employment, education and training opportunities
- helping householders facing the threat of repossession by providing access to mortgage debt advice and support such as the Mortgage Rescue scheme
- adopting a local No Second Night Out scheme to help prevent new rough sleepers from becoming entrenched into a street lifestyle
The first 10 councils to receive Gold Standard Status will then offer advice and a critical eye to other councils looking to achieve the same.
Housing Minister Mark Prisk said:
“We have one of the strongest safety nets in the world against homelessness, backed with £470 million government funding. It is vital this continues to protect the most vulnerable in society.
“That’s why we’re investing £1.7 million in this Gold Standard scheme, helping councils across the country learn from each other to deliver the best possible service, and ensuring that those facing the threat of losing their home get the support they need.”
Mendip Council have already made steps toward their Gold Standard application, using the scheme’s online toolkit to identify improvements needed in their frontline service. Their work has resulted in cases being managed more effectively and efficiently, a 60% reduction in use of temporary accommodation, and an expected saving of £100,000.
DCLG has invested a total of £1.73 million over 2 years to support the Gold Standard.
The scheme will be delivered by the National Practitioner Support Service Team and hosted by Winchester City Council (receiving £1.3 million) with the National Homelessness Advice Service (receiving £700,000) providing technical and training support.
Applications for the scheme will open on 1 May. Further information is available on the Gold Standard website.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for application enquiries and support, and email@example.com for technical support for the peer review process and online tools.
The Gold Standard is based on the local authority challenges set out by the Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness last summer.
The National Homelessness Advice Service is a partnership between Shelter and Citizens Advice, with the Gold Standard practical support mechanisms being delivered by the Shelter arm of the partnership.