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Edinburgh’s Family and Household Support Service: Averting Homelessness and Transforming Lives

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According to a council report, Edinburgh’s Family and Household Support Service has successfully averted homelessness for a minimum of 350 households.

At a meeting of the Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Committee this week, councillors heard how the service is providing a citywide approach to ‘getting it right for everyone’ – with the aim of helping vulnerable residents before it’s too late.

Through referrals from sources such as teachers, housing officers and social workers to police officers and politicians, it has been possible to intervene early in many cases to help households in Edinburgh access the right advice and support.

Around £300,000 in welfare has been sourced to support families referred to the service, alongside advice on issues as varied as parenting, addiction, employment and health and wellbeing.

Working directly with teams which handle antisocial behaviour complaints and neighbourly disputes, the service is also working to prevent repeat instances of antisocial behaviour by working holistically with those involved to assess any support needs.

The Committee also heard how the service is successfully helping tenants sustain their tenancy once they move into a new home. Edinburgh’s ‘Keys and a Kit’ programme as it has been dubbed features sessions on finances, health and local community resources and activities to help new tenants settle in, which can be particularly important following a long period of homelessness.

By making the best use of limited resources by working collaboratively with charities and others, it is also estimated that this preventative approach has provided a saving to the council of close to £6m since 1 April 2022.

“Every day, our tenants are interacting with council services – be it for health care, school, or welfare. These services need to be joined up so that we can better support the whole life of a tenant and it’s great to see the difference this ‘getting it right for everyone’ approach is making.

“Thanks to early intervention from council workers and from our partners, we’ve prevented homelessness for hundreds of households. Families entitled to benefits have been helped and tenants moving into new homes have been supported. Plus an extra advantage of this has been £4.5m of costs associated with homelessness avoided in the last year alone, at a time when our finances are under immense pressure.

“I hope to see us build on this even further now that the Family and Household Support Service reports into the Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Committee. I’m confident that we’ll be able to draw this work together even more and build in other measures, such as noticing when a tenant’s home may be suffering from damp or is in need of an essential repair.”

Councillor Jane Meagher, Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Convener

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