Maidstone Borough Council

Preventing Homelessness

The Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) came into force in 2018, leading to increased demand for Housing services in a period of reduced funding due to austerity measures. 

This demand has been accelerated by the pandemic. The financial and broader impacts that this has had on many households has led to increasing demand on councils to provide additional support to residents.

The challenge that many councils face, is that the first time they become aware of an issue is when a household contacts the council and presents as homeless. At this point, it is often too late to explore and deliver a range of interventions that may have prevented the situation arising, and the only option available may be expensive Temporary Accommodation. 

Maidstone Council began exploring these issues back in 2019 before the pandemic had struck and launched their Homelessness & Rough Sleeper Strategy, prioritising the prevention of homelessness.

The Challenge:

In order to transform and deliver on the new strategy, Maidstone recognised the need to overcome a number of challenges:

Using data and predictive analytics to understand the risk factors contributing to increased homelessness, and how to improve commissioning of services

  • Early identification of those at risk of homelessness in order to proactively offer support, ensuring fair representation across geographical wards (three of which rank in the top 10% for deprivation in the broader Kent county)
  • Accessing the increasing volume of citizen data held across internal and external systems
  • Quickly and easily viewing information relevant to an individual or household through a ‘single view of household
  • Public sensitivities around using ‘big data’ and predictive analytics

Increase in homelessness decisions made

  • 2013/14 – 426 42.6% 42.6%
  • 2014/15 – 622 62.2% 62.2%
  • 2015/16 – 626 62.6% 62.6%
  • 2016/17 – 665 65.5% 65.5%
  • 2017/18 – 675 67.5% 67.5%

The Challenge:

The Council approached xantura and EY to support their transformation towards a preventative service model.

Collectively, we pioneered a new approach to tackling homelessness by designing and implementing ‘OneView’ – an innovative data and analytics tool that brings together data from different areas to identify those at risk of future homelessness and enables councils to understand their services in a holistic way – ultimately transforming the way that vulnerable groups are supported.

The tool also enabled Maidstone to overcome a number of their key challenges, with core functionalities including:

Single view of customer via automated case summaries

Robust data controls through
IG-Bridge

Interactive
reporting

Proactive
risk alerts

Reduction in
homelessness

Return on
investment

Broader Societal
Savings

Days
reinvested

The Outcomes:

Reduction in homelessness through improved early intervention

Over the course of one year 650+ alerts were generated with MBC using existing capacity to proactively support the 40% with the ‘highest risk’.

  • Households identified 3-6 months before reaching crisis point
  • 40% reduction in homelessness due to risk alerts enabling proactive support

Generated cost savings

  • £225k in actual cost savings, with potential savings of £578k if MBC had additional capacity; equivalent to 15% of the Housing budget
  • Represents an ROI of over 600% and broader societal savings of £2.5m

Reduced administrative burden

  • 61 days reinvested in working directly with vulnerable citizens
  • Potential to increase to 160 days with a broader roll-out

Improved partner working

  • Consolidated 15+ data files from internal and external sources
  • Enabled teams to gain a more holistic understanding of an individual’s situation

What does this show?

Despite Group A being ‘higher risk’, Maidstone was able to achieve a 40% reduction in homelessness due to early intervention.

What they said:

“OneView has been proven to deliver immediate benefits to the client group with tangible examples of families who without the support they are now receiving were on a trajectory to presenting as homeless in the near future and who otherwise may not have come to our attention until a point which was too late for a successful intervention. With all these matters GDPR is a consideration and the infrastructure enables the controlled sharing of information that’s compliant with legal gateways and is reinforced by data sharing agreements.

EYX has been incredibly supporting throughout a challenging journey. Their can-do approach continued throughout the project and into the present day through monthly meetings and their enthusiasm is inspiring and matched only by their technical expertise. For that reason I have no hesitation in recommending EYX as being organisations worthy of further exploration to see how they can change service delivery to vulnerable populations across Kent.”

John Littlemore
Head of Housing and Community Services –  MBC

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