Wealden District Council
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Homelessness Strategy Action Plan

Homelessness Strategy- Action Plan 2018-2023




1. Prevention of homelessness


Ensure there is corporate leadership in tackling homelessness in the district.

·       Develop a corporate mission statement

 ·       Ensure Cllrs, HMT and Heads of Service are aware and buy in to the priority

 ·       Ensure homelessness is a priority in the Corporate Plan









Corporate Plan 2019-23 recognises the need to help people who are or are likely to become homeless

Continue to update the Council’s web pages on housing advice and homelessness to ensure advice is available early on

·       Review landing page

·       Review content and sign posting


Update completed for HRAct. Compliant with MHCLG HAST.

Ongoing updates as appropriate.

Explore different ways to deliver advice services e.g. home visits or skype/webchat

·       Review scoped

·       Opportunities for new services explored

·       New services implemented


Home Works  secondment in place for home visits to all parental eviction cases

Exploring use of Teams

Explore ways to identify and interact with those households that are not receiving services but who might need them in order to prevent homelessness e.g. joint working arrangements

·       Scope out which services potential customers might contact

·       Work with these services to raise awareness of our services and ensure they contact us with any housing related concerns


County wide project developing to ensure pathways for Duty to Refer

Arrangements are in place but further development is needed for example with Children’s Centres

Working with Adult Social Care.

RSI work has resulted in raising awareness with partners including health, probation service and prison leavers services

Increase awareness and structure around complex single homeless individuals to generate co-ordinated partnership

Review Protocols to ensure prevention e.g. Private Registered Providers pre-court protocols

·       Identify agencies with whom we need protocols

·       Review/create new protocols


Legal have completed Data Sharing Agreements with RPs.

Forge closer links with services such as Children’s Services including Children’s Centres to ensure early links are made with those at risk of homelessness

·       Contact all Children Centre managers

·       Provide information/training to them


County wide project developing to ensure pathways for Duty to Refer.

Explore use of videos and alternative media to raise awareness

Work with ESCC to explore the need for and where a need exists deliver supported accommodation available for particular cohorts of people in need of accommodation with support

·       Carry out research to identify and need

·       Work to identify any suitable sites

·       Identify a PRP partner

·       Bid for funding


Part of ESCC budget cut proposals 2018, which resulted in the current provision in Wealden to remain untouched.

No new provision currently identified as need is currently fulfilled – 2 extra care schemes and a new scheme for people with disabilities completed.

Review the Allocations Policy to ensure it  contributes to preventing or relieving homelessness and meets the requirements of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017

·       Set up a working group

·       Gain feedback from staff on current policy

·       Amend and consult on revised policy

·       Get revised policy approved

·       Publish new policy


Completed in 2018.

New review in 2019 to respond to the learning from the allocations review following the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act.

Allocations completed early 2022. Major review underway in 2022/23

As part of the allocations Policy Review explore the need to develop local lettings plans

·       Review the current provisions relating to local lettings plans as part of the Allocations Policy Review



Ongoing as new developments arise.

2 bedroom flat local Lettings Plan.

Review our policy for spending money allocated to us under the Preventing Repossessions Funding

·       Look at other council’s policies

·       Ask staff for ideas on what else we could offer

·       Amend current policy


Completed and policy is in place.


Lesture reviewed and new policy approved.

Maximise opportunities to enable access to the Private Rented sector:

·       Review landlord incentives and

·       improve offer to landlords

·       look at what other councils are doing

·       ask staff for ideas on what we could do

·       work with private landlords

New Tenancy Sustainment Officer is forging closer links to private landlords and letting agents.


Covid has made accessing private rented very difficult nationally due to rising rent levels and demand.

2. Meeting our obligations under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017

Work to raise awareness so that  public bodies locally are aware of their duty to refer

·       survey public sector to see who needs training

·       Arrange training sessions


County wide project on duty to refer.

Referrals can be made under this duty online.

Implement a new Housing Options and Homelessness system including the ability to create online personal housing plans

·       Procure a new system

·       Implement a new system

·       Train staff


Completed, Locata now in place and used for the plans.

Review and update our Procedure Manual to take account of our new obligations

·       Review current manual

·       Update to take account of Homelessness Reduction Act 2017

·       Circulate to staff


Completed, new procedure manual in place. Updating is an ongoing process as things change.

Ensure staff receive training on their new responsibilities under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017

·       Arrange for Housing Law Services to run some training

Before April 2018

Completed. Staff have attended training and now delivering responsibilities under the legislation.

Regular legal training for all frontline staff.

Review and update Housing Options job roles

·       Look at current job descriptions

·       Review in light of new responsibilities


Completed along with review of Allocations posts.

Implement the new Choice Based Lettings system and ensure it builds in the new legislation

·       Procure a new system

·       Implement a new system

·       Train staff


Complete and online housing application form is now live.

Reviewing information which is put on Sussex Homemove on available properties – now adding google maps links and will tie it into the Voids review in 2022.

3. Securing accommodation for homeless households

Review Letsure to ensure that it meets the needs of customers

·       Look at what other Council’s to support customers to access the private rented sector

·       Ask staff for ideas

·       Devise a revised scheme

·       Get revised scheme approved


Lean process mapping exercise complete.

Improvements identified and approved by cabinet. New policy is now in place.

Explore the viability of social lettings agency and / or property management services

·       Look at other successful schemes operated by councils

·       Develop a business plan

·       Set aside a budget to run the scheme


Wealden Lettings Scheme is not proceeding.

Increase the number of letting agents working with us, particularly in the north of Wealden

·       Canvass opinions of Council schemes among letting agents

·       Organise a series of letting agents’ business breakfasts in the north to encourage relationships


Relationships being developed.

Already a number of landlords/agents working with us via new Tenancy Sustainment Officer.


Problems due to lack of available accommodation/affordability as a result of Covid which mean letting agents have a huge demand for available properties.

Explore opportunities to bring empty properties back into use

·       Scope out what other councils are doing

·       Develop a range of initiatives

·       Look at potential new funding to offer new incentives and bid as necessary


The intention was to promote the new social lettings agency (including social media) in conjunction with Empty Property Loan via Parity Trust. However, the social lettings agency is not proceeding.

We continue to work to understand the reasons why properties are empty and work with owners to bring properties back into use.

We also offer Empty Property Loans as part of our Private Financial Assistance Policy

Explore advertising private rented vacancies via the new CBL system

·       Procure a new system

·       Implement a new system

·       Explore whether other similar schemes are in operation and how they work

·       Work with letting agents/private landlords to scope out their level of interest

·       Design a package to attract letting agents/private landlords to use the CBL system


Limited private rented properties which are in huge demand with waiting list so no desire from private landlords/agents to advertise with us.

Complete a review of the need, use and cost of  temporary accommodation across East Sussex in partnership with York University work

·       Partnership established

·       Project Scoped

·       Partner identified to carry out the research

·       Work commissioned

·       Review complete and report published


Complete and York report published. There were no actions for Wealden to take forward.

Ensure staff are utilising services such as DFG’s, DHP  and Housing Solutions Officer role to keep  people at home

·       Ensure services are promoted in the staff procedure manual and at team meetings


Ongoing work with Housing Solutions Officers. Since January 2019 we have had an Occupational Therapist working in housing. Later in 2019 we employed an OT assistant.

Develop accommodation options for single homeless clients in addition to families

Maximise opportunities to provide new affordable homes and continue to provide a range of properties across the District based on needs.

·       Through planning policy, provide affordable housing where the development proposed is to 6 (net) on sites in the AONB and 11 or where the floor-space of the site is 1,000 or more square metres outside the AONB and

·       Look to retain the threshold of 35% as identified in the current adopted Local Plan.

·       Reviewing assets owned by both the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and those owned corporately to identify suitable sites for building new homes.

·       Buying back ex-council properties purchased though the Right to Buy as well as other market properties if affordable.

·       Subject to planning and finances deliver phrase 2 and phrase 3 of the new build council homes programme.


Local Plan was rejected by the Inspector so work is now underway on a new Local Plan














Asset Management Group to continuously review use of assets.







We have brought a number of section 106 new build homes using recycled RTB receipts – during 18/19 this equated to properties across 3 sites


HRA borrowing cap has now been lifted. In 2018/19 we completed 17 new homes in Hailsham. We also purchased another 11 new build properties across two sites at East Dean and Cross in Hand Heathfield. In 19/20 we completed 67 homes at Grants Hill Court in Uckfield. Work is ongoing.

Purchased The Old Courthouse which includes 4 Next Steps flats funded partly with Government rough sleepers funding.

Ensure the best use is made of existing affordable housing stock continuing to look at opportunities to address under occupation and over- crowding.

·       Review Tenant Incentive Scheme

·       Review the Allocations Policy with regards to over-crowding and transfer quota


New TIS policy approved in 2018.

Allocations review completed in 2018/21-22 and major review underway in 22/23.

Promote Government initiatives to enable households to access homeowner-ship

·       Ensure website sign posts to Government schemes

·       Ensure Housing Applicants and Transferees newsletter promotes schemes


Ongoing – information and links on our website. Information published in Applicants newsletter

Explore the viability of developing shared accommodation for under 35s in partnership with local landlords

·       Identify what is needed – how many units and where

·       Identify a PRP top work with

·       Find a suitable site


Initial current appetite from a local Housing Association has diminished

Explore the possibility of a new build temporary accommodation scheme or acquisition





·       Identify what is needed – how many units and where?

·       Identify a PRP to work with

·       Find a suitable site


A new build is not necessary due to the changes under the Homelessness Reduction Act. Focus will now be on emergency accommodation. Bed and Breakfast accommodation in Wealden has now been secured. We are looking at use of a WDC temporary accommodation scheme for Emergency placements.

4. Support for homeless households                   

Identify gaps in service provision and work with partners to see how these gaps can be filled

Continue to refer clients to support services such as Home Works and STEPS

·       Ensure staff refer suitable customers

·       Monitor the referral process to ensure that it is working


Post ESCC spending review priority is given to Homeless households but the service is now very limited. Homeworks employee is now co-located in Wealden

Since 2021 contract now with BHT for all clients regardless of age.

There is Tenancy Sustainment Officer post within housing management and housing options.

Regularly review and update the Support Directory of services available in Wealden

·       Annually review the whole directory and update

·       Update as services change


Refer to ESCIS and 1Space online directories now as continuously updated and so we have moved away from our own directory

Ensure ongoing training and support for staff

·       Ensure staff receive reminders about different services at team meetings

·       Invite support services to team meetings

·       Include information in the procedure manual

·       Circulate the Support Directory to staff


Different providers attend team meetings.


Procedure manual has been updated and is continuously reviewed.

Linked to support directory which has been replaced by ESCIS and 1Space

Specific training needs identified in annual appraisals and six month reviews.

Ensure customers unable to access support services due to eligibility are supported by staff to access services such as health care, schools and social services through sign-posting

·       Temporary Accommodation Coordinator to support customers during their stay in temporary accommodation to access services







All staff will make appropriate referrals.


Tenancy Sustainment Officer and Housing Solutions Worker posts are utilised


ESCC Health & Social Care Connect to assess needs for other services e.g. telecare


Develop ICT solutions to achieve further efficiencies within the service and supporting digital inclusion initiatives

Explore digital inclusion initiatives including writing a business case for mobile devices for Temporary Accommodation Officer and visiting Housing Options Officer.

·       Write an IT Business case

·       Send Business Case to IT

·       Business case approved

·       IPads ordered

·       IPads given to staff


2 IPads purchased for Housing Options Officers home visits and Temporary Accommodation Officer.

Explored options to provide broadband in both temporary accommodation courts but currently unviable due to the set-up cost.

Utilise systems such as TP Tracker and the new Choice based Lettings system to communicate with customers on a regular basis

·       Regularly time information shared with customers digitally

·       Newsletters sent digitally


New Sussex Homemove system allows us to communicate directly with housing applicants. This is now used to email newsletters twice a year


Specific work relating to the use and functionality of Locata to communicate with customer’s forms part of the team’s work plan.


TPTracker is only used for  

tenants and leaseholders as linked to Orchard.

In partnership with training providers operating in Wealden to deliver ‘Street Learning’ courses to provide additional skills to residents such as computer skills

·       Deliver 3 terms of courses per annum

·       Deliver a range of courses including IT, employment skills and those that help with health and wellbeing


Street Learning is ongoing.

In 2018 online training courses were added.

The group continually review the need for different courses and recently this has resulted in functional maths and English being provided through the project.

Post Covid both online and face to face course delivered.

review of course to attract a more diverse group of attendees

Introduce Online Tenancy Training

·       Purchase Software

·       Design an online course covering a range of topics

·       Set up back office to enable us to monitor housing applicants progress

·       Test course


Complete – IT solution now live and forms part of the Allocations Policy. Tenancy Training now in place and is customer specific – i.e. what modules are undertaken.

5. Partnership Working

Feed into the Corporate Plan when it is reviewed in 2019 to ensure homelessness remains a corporate priority

·       Ensure housing representation as part of the working group to review the corporate plan


New Corporate Plan published early 2019. The 2019-23 Plan recognises the need to help people who are or are likely to become homeless

Explore ways to improve links with health services

·       Utilise existing groups to forge closer relationships with the health service

·       Monitor delivery of the JSNA action plan with regards to health and homelessness


There are good strategic links but operational links are needed to ensure GP’s etc, are fulfilling their obligations under the Duty to Refer.


RSI has opened up relationships with health services

Review arrangements with ESCC so that clients contacting them or us are referred to the other service as applicable

·       Look at current referral process and review and update

·       Develop new referral processes if they do not exist in light  of the public duty to refer

·       Offer training on the duty to refer


Part of Duty to Refer county-wide.  Procedure in place.

Explore the viability of an East Sussex County wide Homelessness Strategy

·       Discuss with neighbouring authorities the possibility of a county wide strategy

·       If others support this approach set up a working group to deliver it

·       Draft a county wide Homelessness Strategy

·       Consult on the Draft

·       Finalise the Draft

·       Get Draft approved by each authority

·       Publish


To be developed in due course and to include Rough Sleeping Strategy