Meeting notes – HJ and Minister for Housing & Communities

Present:

Simon Burgess, Independent Chair of Jersey Homelessness Strategic Board
Minister for Housing and Communities, Deputy David Warr
Government of Jersey Officers: Jack Norris, Carly Cudlipp and, for part, Natasha Day

  1. The Minister has been reviewing the Ministerial Response to the Jersey Homelessness Strategy presented to the States on 9 March 2021 and has noted many actions have taken as recommended by the Strategy.
  2. It was noted that the first recommendations of the Strategy included the need to understand and define homelessness by introducing a statutory definition of homelessness and collate data against a definition to evidence its scale and nature so that appropriate actions can be taken to prevent it.
  3. The Minister’s Definition of Homelessness had been presented to the States on 7 October 2022, which whilst is not a statutory definition enables collation of data against 13 categories of homelessness.
  4. Until comprehensive data is collated it will be difficult to form preventative plans and instead reactive actions will be needed (for example, actions taken by the Housing Advice service and the emergency accommodation providers).
  5. It was acknowledged that the development of the Housing Advice Service was an excellent initiative and do a great job, but when needed they have to react to difficult and last-minute cases, noting their ambition to be more preventative in their work, which more timely and granular data will support.
  6. Detailed, timely and up to date data will help identify trends as they happen and help plan preventative responses.
  7. Housing Advisory Service is currently collating data available to them, and consideration needs to be given to other sources of data (eg. number of applications to court for eviction).
  8. Methods to measure other categories of homelessness also needs to be found, for example, measuring the number of people “sofa surfing”, the under-25s, people living in insecure and inadequate accommodation.
  9. Ian Cope of Statistics Jersey had advised on what GOJ can and cannot be publish.
  10. Paul McGinnety does an excellent job leading the Homelessness Cluster meetings which meets regularly to share information between GOJ and third sector organisations. JHSB is also represented and often provides updates on its work.

  1. A sub-group of the Cluster, consisting of the five main homeless accommodation providers and JHSB have been meeting periodically over the last year to hold strategic discussions on specific issues that impact them.
  2. This sub-group agreed to collate and aggregate their own anonymised data on their residents and through JHSB proposes to publish statistics on an ongoing basis. This may help GOJ with the collation of its data, but will only mainly help with a few of the 13 categories in the Minister’s Definition of Homelessness.
  3. Discussed the members and work of the Strategic Board and agreed it was timely to consider updating it. For example, some GOJ officers had changed roles and should be replaced. Action: hold meeting between GOJ and JHSB to discuss/agree this.
  4. Noted that the purpose/aim of the Jersey Homelessness Strategic Board was to eradicate homelessness in Jersey, which had not changed since the Board was established in 2019.
  5. Since the Board published the Homelessness Strategy in November 2021, its main activity was to monitor actions against the Strategy and raise the profile of homelessness and its impact on people in Jersey.
  6. It was timely for the Board to review its membership and its objectives. Action: JHSB
  7. The Minister was of the opinion that the subject of tackling homelessness required a cross- ministerial approach including Education, Home Affairs, Health, Social Security and Housing. [Subsequent question: Should Environment not be included given its responsibility for matters relating to category 12 and 13 of the Minister’s Definition of Homelessness – namely Unfit Housing and Extreme Overcrowding?]
  8. Draft Terms of Reference were currently being drawn up for this.
  9. The Minister undertook to revert with timing and plans to bring forward a statutory definition of homelessness.