The role of Jobcentres in preventing and ending homelessness: learning from Crisis and DWP pilots 2016-2020
Since 2016, Crisis and several Jobcentres have developed partnership arrangements to co-ordinate and integrate housing and employment support. This report summarises the achievements of that joint work, and sets out the key lessons arising from it, based on evaluations and subsequent policy development. Joining up policy and operational process, the recommendations draw on the best practices that have already been pilot and seek to overcome the barriers encountered by the pilots. Delivering these recommendations would help DWP to more effectively prevent and end homelessness.
- The Department for Work and Pensions is in a unique position to be able to prevent and alleviate homelessness. JCP staff support people during what is often one of the most difficult times of their life, so the DWP has unique access to individuals who are on the brink of homelessness, and would benefit from help to avoid homelessness altogether.
- People who have a safe and stable home are more likely to be able to manage their employment, health, and housing costs, meaning that focusing on homelessness prevention in customer support is an economical choice.
- Since 2016, joint working between Crisis and several Jobcentres (JCPs) in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Brent, Merseyside and Birmingham, has demonstrated the extent to which the DWP can achieve a standard of housing support that actively prevents and alleviates homelessness. This achieved positive outcomes on the ground and demonstrated the decisive role that JCPs can play in people’s lives.
- The direction set by ministers and senior officials in DWP and local government has been a key factor in the success of the pilots and will be crucial to following through on the findings.
- Joint working has been key to stabilising people’s housing and securing employment, and the report recommends embedding effective partnership working throughout DWP, including with local authorities and their Housing Options Teams. Enabling effective partnership working requires sufficient resourcing and data sharing power to enable greater partnership and deeper co-ordination.
- A key finding throughout this work has been that excellent practice exists within DWP and staff work hard to support customers with a range of needs. However, there needs to be investment in staff skills and support for staff to navigate a complex issue, as well as a greater range of tools to personalise support for vulnerable customers.
- Finally, homelessness needs to be reframed by DWP, moving beyond it being one complex need amongst many, to embedding housing support and engaging with housing security as a key metric of the department’s success. Housing needs should be identified systematically in the UC application process, and it should be monitored to evaluate policy and practice.
Neibig, S (2021) The role of Jobcentres in preventing and ending homelessness: learning from Crisis and DWP pilots 2016-2020. London: Crisis