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Royal Borough's homelessness strategy set for refresh

Potential changes to the council’s homelessness action plan were debated at a meeting this week.

At a virtual meeting of the infrastructure overview and scrutiny panel on Tuesday, councillors debated a report requesting approval for a refreshed plan.

This is set to guide the council’s approach to the provision of homelessness and rough sleeping services in the borough over the next three years.

It was also proposed that the name be changed to the ‘Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Strategy’.

A paper will go to cabinet on Thursday, June 25 where a final decision will be made.

Local authorities have a legal duty to publish a homelessness strategy.

The plan has been developed by looking at statistics and trends, engagement with charities in the borough dealing with homelessness, and survey results from people who have been supported.

Cllr Helen Price (TBF, Clewer and Dedworth East) asked whether the council was ready for a potential increase in homeless people as a result of COVID-19.

“We are entering a very different situation and I want to be convinced that you considered the impact on homelessness of COVID,” she said.

“There will be a very large surge in a few months and I really wonder whether you have considered that in formulating the action plan.”

The council’s lead member for housing Cllr Ross McWilliams (Con, Cox Green) said in response: “We will do the right thing, and the thing we have to do by law, which is to get all people who require our support, into accommodation.”

He added that the council is ‘looking to grow’ its temporary accommodation stock ‘over the course of the next few months’.

Talking about the action plan itself, Cllr McWilliams said: “We have come a long way from the headlines we were receiving two years ago.”

View the updated homelessness strategy at bit.ly/2YIL9yf

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