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12/07/2019
Green light to Homelessness Taskforce’s plan to design out homelessness

The regional homelessness taskforce set up by Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street to focus on the systemic issues which contribute to homelessness in the region has been given the green light to build on its work.

Homelessness is a complex issue with both personal and structural dimensions; it is addressed at a local level through a variety of interventions led by local authorities strategically, statutorily and in local delivery partnerships.

The approach taken by the taskforce has been to look at the experiences of those who are homeless and consider what it would take to design out homelessness and ensure prevention is built into any new and emerging programmes developed by the Combined Authority.

Members of the taskforce include the seven constituent West Midlands member authorities, other public sector organisations, the voluntary sector, and representatives from the business community and housing associations.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Board has now approved the taskforce’s forward plan, which will build prevention of homelessness into all the WMCA’s developing work programmes.

There are seven key areas of work:

  • Accommodation – promoting truly affordable housing that reflects real regional need;
  • Welfare – lobbying for changes to universal credit, local housing allowances and private rented standards;
  • Housing First – continuing support to deliver this pilot programme, which has secured £9.6m of Government funding;
  • Rough sleeping – supporting local authorities in delivering initiatives;
  • Collaboration – convening public services to embed a voluntary commitment to collaborate to prevent and relieve homelessness and working with landlords to realise the ambition to make no one homeless;
  • Business – promoting the work of businesses in supporting prevention and offering job opportunities as a way to recovery; and
  • Ring-fenced fund – providing financial support for specific projects.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the WMCA, said: “I am pleased that our members have approved the forward plan of the taskforce, which is adding value to all the work they are already doing to tackle homelessness in their areas.

“Homelessness remains an incredibly complex issue and we must all work together to try and tackle it.”

Jean Templeton, CEO of St Basil’s charity for young homeless people, is the independent Chair of the West Midlands Homelessness Taskforce.

She said: “Homelessness creates misery for the people involved, their families and local communities.

“The taskforce has brought together people from different sectors, who have shown a tremendous amount of goodwill and generosity with their time, ideas and contributions.

“We now have an opportunity to design homelessness prevention into the WMCA’s work programmes as these take shape.”

The overall purpose of the taskforce is to strengthen the region’s ability to support some of the most vulnerable people in its communities and ensure that its growth is inclusive for all, including those experiencing severe disadvantage.

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