2. Homelessness in context
2.1 National context
A range of national policies and priorities, alongside legislation, have influenced and helped to shape the direction of the Council’s Homelessness Strategy. Ending rough sleeping, reducing overall levels of homelessness and the eliminating the use of unsuitable emergency accommodation are national priorities. These are also linked to other strategies and initiatives relating to: reducing substance misuse, supporting victims of domestic abuse, reducing delayed hospital discharges, supporting looked after children and vulnerable families, supporting care leavers, and helping to rehabilitate those within the criminal justice system.
Key pieces of legislation and national polices include:
- The Criminal Justice Act 2003
- The Mental Health Act 2007
- The Health and Social Care Act 2012
- The Care Act 2014
- The Children and Families Act 2014
- HM Government Care Leavers Strategy 2014
- The Localism Act 2011
- The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017
- The Homelessness Code Of Guidance for Local Authorities 2018
- The Rough Sleeping Strategy 2018
- The Domestic Abuse Act 2021
Prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, national levels of homelessness, rough sleeping and placements into temporary accommodation, including bed and breakfast style accommodation, had risen year on year over the last decade.
Thanks to temporary protective measures, particularly income protection programmes and eviction moratoria, the Covid-19 pandemic triggered no overall increase in homeless applications nationally. Temporary accommodation placements surged however, particularly of single homeless people, as the result of the emergency measures to protect those at risk of rough sleeping (Everyone In) during the pandemic.
The pandemic has also further exposed England’s severe shortage of affordable homes. Access to long-term housing was the capacity challenge most widely seen as having been posed by the pandemic by local authorities according to research conducted by Crisis, a homelessness charity. A majority of councils surveyed said it had become harder to place homeless households in both social rented and private rented sector housing during the pandemic. (Crisis homelessness monitor 2021)
2.2 Local Context
At a district level, the key strategic plans linked to this strategy are:
- The Teignbridge District Council Housing Strategy 2021-2026
- The Teignbridge Tenancy Strategy 2019
- The Teignbridge Council Strategy 2020-2030
- The Teignbridge Local Plan 2020-2033
- The Dartmoor National Park Local Plan 2006-2026
The Teignbridge Housing Strategy 2021-26 sets out what the Council, and its partners will be doing over the next five years to improve the housing situation for our current and future residents, and should be read alongside our Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy. Our vision is grouped into five key themes which reflect the broad range of work that we do to meet housing need in Teignbridge. The five key themes are:
- Building affordable homes.
- Improving homes
- Preventing homelessness and addressing rough sleeping
- Putting the client first and
- Tackling climate change.
At a county-wide level, the key strategic plans linked to this strategy are:
- Happy and Healthy Communities, Devon’s Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2020-2025
- Wider Devon Sustainability and Transformation Plan 2016
- Promoting Independence in Devon, 5 Year Plan for Adult Social Care 2018
- The Children and Young People’s Plan 2019-2023
- Healthy Lives, Vibrant Communities, Housing Choices, a Joint Strategic Approach to Supporting People to Live Independently in Devon 2020-2025
- Domestic Abuse Support in Safe Accommodation in Devon (currently at consultation phase)
- The Devon Partnership Trust Community Mental Health Framework (currently under development)
- Team Devon COVID-19 Economy and Business Recovery Prospectus 2020
The Devon Recovery Co-ordination Group (DRCG) was established following the first response phase of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. The group brought together representatives across Devon to work with communities and help to reset, restart and regrow Devon. A crucial element of the DRCG’s work has been to assess the impacts of the pandemic in Devon. Some of the key findings include:
- Communities stepped up to the challenge of the pandemic, and community-based groups have played a critical role in supporting vulnerable people and those with additional needs.
- The impact of the pandemic has not been felt equally and has fallen disproportionately on those groups who already suffered entrenched and systematic inequality.
- Those who privately rent their homes are at higher risk of rent increases or eviction, and food insecurity has also risen. Most at risk are households where someone has a disability or mental health issue, single adult households with children and those with a low income.
- The pandemic has exacerbated existing health inequalities including those around age, occupation, ethnicity, health status, place of residence and areas of deprivation.
- There have been rising numbers of people seeking support for domestic abuse, and there has been a rise in hate crimes including those motivated by sexuality and race.
We therefore face significant challenges over the coming years which are likely to be further exacerbated should we enter a period of austerity and reduced financial support for key public services. However, the work of the Recovery Coordination Group, and the many other multi-agency forums established in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, shows the value of collaborative knowledge sharing and partnership work through which we can build successful approaches to meeting the needs of those who need support.