‘Life-saving’ housing and homelessness services will be taken over ‘in-house’ by Rochdale Council

‘Life-saving’ services for homelessness and social housing are to be taken over ‘in-house’ by Rochdale Council.

Homelessness prevention and the Home Choice service – which allocates social housing in the borough – is currently provided by Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH). But these key functions will be transferred to the local authority next month in a bid to allow “more integrated services, delivered by one team within one organisation”.

Bosses say this will allow for better integration into the council’s wider remit, including adult care and children’s services. The arrangement does not affect other RBH services and the mutual – the borough’s largest social housing provider – will retain ownership and management responsibilities for its units.

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Councilor Danny Meredith, cabinet member responsible for housing at Rochdale Council, said the national housing situation and legislation had changed “significantly” in recent years. And he thinks it was vital that the authority reacted in order to “continue to provide the best service to our residents”.

He said: “It will be a positive improvement, it’s about working with everyone to prevent homelessness. It’s about working with people in the voluntary, community and charitable sector, working with people in the private sector and all council departments.

Danny Meredith

“It’s about bringing them all together to provide better service to prevent homelessness and reduce that pressure on housing at the same time. All in all, this will be a better service for the people of Rochdale.

Advisor Meredith said GDPR and data protection laws have made it difficult for RBH to work together effectively. And although he has been fiercely critical of RBH in the past, he says it has nothing to do with the “mutual agreement” on which services fall to the board.

“It’s not really a criticism of RBH, they just couldn’t deliver it the way we wanted,” he said.

“It was more about sharing information and trying to work together. We know we better bring this in-house. Plans are underway for a face-to-face service in Rochdale, away from the council’s main base, Number One Riverside.

“People don’t feel comfortable walking into council offices sometimes because they might have a problem with council tax or things like that,” Councilor Meredith said. “There are a lot of things we want to bring together so we can provide additional support for people so we can actually prevent homelessness.”

The changeover will take effect on April 1. There will be no immediate changes to the way people register or apply for social housing or how they contact the homelessness team.

All existing registrations and applications will automatically be transferred to the council and the transfer will not affect the priority status of individuals. RBH employees who currently provide these services will be transferred to the board beginning at the start of the month.

More information can be found here: https://www.rbh.org.uk/news/rbh-news/an-update-on-the-homechoice-and-homelessness-services/


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Raymond I. Langston