Wednesday, 30 July 2008

A challenge to the advice agencies out there

Why or why has no homeless charity decided to go undercover and do a mystery shopper exercise so that they can name and shame the LA's that are gatekeeping and denying people the right to make Part VII applications?

Until this issue is pushed into the public domain, more and more people will be stopped from homelessness applications.

In my authority its become a case of not taking an application until the latest possible moment, people are being made to stay in overcrowded conditions whilst privarely rented accommodation is sought for them. Even when property is obtained they are forced at times to accept the property by tactics that border on bullying

Monday, 28 July 2008

Lions led by donkeys

Heard a terrific bit of tittle tattle from a colleague of mine in another local authority. Apparently their head honcho (and I do mean top of the tree), is telling the managers that there are no homeless people in that borough, just people with housing needs.
Maybe I should hold a competition to see if anyone can identify this escaped lunatic, oops fingers slipped, meant wise man. Prize could be a something exciting like.......a free picture of that individual to do with what you liked

Talk about spending a penny......

Well this is a very interesting set of figures, the GMB union has just obtained how much local authority's spend on temporary and agency staff. Want to see how much your council is spending? Check where your money is going? As the union says it would be better if the local authorities spent the money on permanent posts

I'm still struggling to comprehend the figures, £1.7 billion spent in total!

A comment I recieved

Following my post below on the Trailblazers" scheme I recieved the following by email, "If you aren't up on welfare and benefits should you really be giving housing advice? Your employer should be providing this training, surely?"

Well, housing advisors advice as it says on the tin, they give housing advice. Whilst I have had basic training on welfare benefits I am not an expert. I would hate to give incorrect advice to a client that led to them losing out. As anyone recognises welfare benefits are a highly specialised area

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

A request to housing advisors or homelessness officers

I thought I'd make an offer to any housing advisors or homeless persons officers out there reading this. If you have any stories about clients that you would like to send me feel free and I'll post them here. Of course I'll make sure that the both the client and yourself remain anonymous.

Please feel free to email me and I'll add your war stories here


I note that the DLCG has announced a new initiative called "Trailblazers." Maybe its me being a cynic but the name alone reminds me of a cowboy tv series, is this a continuation of Caroline Flints speech earlier this year in respect of forcing new council tenants to get jobs?

I have a lot of experience of seeing clients and giving homelessness or housing advice, but I am not a specialist in welfare benefits! Also what is the role of job centres in all this? I bet the staff who have to take on additional duties won't get a pay raise!

This to me is just the government playing politics with people in need. I can not accept that this will benefit any applicants. A cowboy idea from a bunch of cowboys wearing black hats

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Why hasn't any one said anything before?

I found this article tonight. What I don't understand is why is it only now when the 2010 target for reducing the number of people in temporary accommodation is just around the corner, do the London Authorities raise this point? Surely it can't be because as many officers said when the target was announced that it was unrealistic and wouldn't be reached? Sorry to sound cynical but its amazing how senior management and councillors are unwilling to tell to tell central governement the truth

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Have you ever had one of those days?

Today was one of those days that make me want to grab a client or two and shake them them until I see reality appear in their eyes. Harsh I hear one or two of you shout from the back rows (or the cheap seats as I call them). Maybe if I lay out a few of the cases I dealt with today then you can see where my frustration comes from. I was on duty seeing walk in cases today, these are new or existing cases that we have accepted a duty too. Things were going nicely till about 10am, I'd managed to help someone with problems with a medical condition who required a transfer to more suitable accommodation, managed to get my second mug of coffee of the morning and I was feeling that all was fine in the world. Now stop chuckling I can hear you, I can't help being an optimist! I was called to the front desk as another client had arrived. I'm not 100% certain but I might have headed out to see them humming something like "What a wonderful world". The client (who was a single person aged 17) had been offered temporary accommodation and wished to refuse it because it didn't have a garden. Well I explained the consequences of refusual, that they could sign up and seek a review of the suitability. I asked why they thought they should have a garden and was told it was their right! I explained politely that wasn't the case, and got told yes it was under European law. Again I told them that wasn't the case. Then to make matters worse the clients mother came in to the interview cubicle. The mother then started saying if there child had come from abroad then they would get a place with a garden. As my good mood was still upon me, I again explained what would happen if they refused the offer or they could sign up and move in and seeek a review. But by know the client and their mother wouldn't listen. I offered to give the client a 24 hour period and got told to do something that would be anatomically impossible even if I was a a contortionist! And the client stormed off out of the building. A little while later I saw a client who we had made a not homeless decision on as they had accommodation in UK that was reasonable and available for them. I explained the decision to them. They accepted that the facts were correct in the section 184 letter but they said that they wanted to rent out their other property and wanted a council place to live in and it was their right to have a council house. I explained that wasn't the case (though by now my good mood was disappearing faster than Labour in the popularity polls). I explained that the client could seek a review so they said that they wanted to, I again pointed out that they had agreed with all the information in the decision letter. I was rather astonished when they said they hadn't, I pointed that they had I had noted it on their file. The client then became very very abusive and insisted on seeing my manager. I got my manager and the client then proceeded to insist that all the officers they had seen in our officer were liars and that the decision was all wrong. My manager and I then spent the next hour going through our investigations with them and what they had said at previous interviews and showed them documentation that we had obtained. The client asked to see the documentation, we passed over the documents and both my manager and I were astounded when the client grabbed the documents and run out of the office with them. Bearing in mind we had only given the client photocopies we nearly wet ourselves laughing

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Just in a light hearted mood tonight

I was wandering about the internet when I found this article on the BBC about something called Smirting. Seems us non-smokers are missing out!