The incoming Homelessness Reduction Act is set to place an increased duty on local authorities to take steps to prevent people from becoming homeless. An innovative partnership forged by Housing Partners will deliver an essential tool – called Housing Jigsaw - to support councils to deliver their new obligations. The software solution specialist, which works exclusively with social housing providers, has signed an exciting agreement with the National Practitioner Support Service (NPSS) to create a local authority-focused product fit for the new demands.
The Homelessness Reduction Act will see councils across the country receive an extra £61 million in funding to expand existing services and deliver new ones all with a focus on increasing opportunities to prevent and relieve homelessness. With the extra cash, however, come additional responsibilities.
Under the Act, which will soon become law, local authorities must assess and provide meaningful assistance, including a personal housing plan, to everyone in their district who is homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days. In practice, local authorities anticipate a rapid increase in the demand for these services. The new law will also make it easier for people to appeal council decisions to refuse housing applications, with one London council predicting more than a threefold increase in decision reviews.
Simon Hollingsworth, Managing Director of Housing Partners, said: “The introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act is welcome but there’s no denying that there will need to be significant changes within local authorities. Cases where councils will need to provide support are likely to increase at least four-fold and the technology-driven Housing Jigsaw solution we’re working with the NPSS to create will help ensure that customers receive tailored, effective support when they need it.”
Tracy Hendren, NPSS lead, added: “We’re delighted to be working with Housing Partners to deliver this new system. NPSS has supported over 100 local authorities in England to review their current housing options service with limited or not fit for purpose I.T always highlighted as a major concern. With the forthcoming change to the homelessness legislation we feel this is a fantastic opportunity to combine our deep understanding of practitioners’ real needs and challenges with Housing Partners’ innovative software expertise to create a system that protects and supports both council staff and customers, whilst ensuring the enhanced P1E requirements are collated as a matter of course.”
Housing Partners’ and NPSS’ combined unique perspective and experience means that the new IT solution will be the only system designed by practitioners – for practitioners. Combining exceptional knowledge in housing practices with extensive software expertise, the Housing Jigsaw will have a real focus on the end user and an intuitive design. The case management and reporting software will put a whole range of features and essential management tools at the disposal of councils across the country for an affordable, fixed annual price of less than £10,000, with no upfront build costs. Included in the annual fee will be support, training and advice delivered by sector experts.
The partnership behind this innovative software is looking for eager councils to sign up to help shape the software and ensure it addresses challenges associated with the homelessness reduction bill. The pilot phase of this innovation will run from September 2017 to March 2018, local authorities can register their interest at http://info.housingpartners.co.uk/housingjigsaw