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Frontline Worker Consultations: Key Findings and Impact

Frontline Worker Consultations: Key Findings and Impact

Frontline Worker Consultations: Key Findings and Impact

Please find here the latest consultations submitted by the Frontline Network.

Closed Frontline Network Consultations

Frontline Network Survey 2019

We would like to say a huge thank you to the 1433 frontline workers who completed this year's Frontline Worker Survey!

At the Frontline Network, it’s not about us. It’s about you as a frontline worker.

We fully appreciate how busy you are, and this is why it is so important to gather your ideas and expertise within our Frontline Worker Survey.

We wanted to know what challenges you face and the great work that you do to overcome some of these challenges.

From hostels to hospitals, night shelters to job centres, food banks to housing first services: your expert feedback has given us an insight into the working life of frontline workers across a range of settings.

We collected 3359 comments within our survey's open questions.  We hope this year's survey will highlight good practice and what works, but also be honest about the challenges faced. 

Thank you again for taking this year's survey. We look forward to presenting our findings from all 50 questions in our Frontline Worker Report - set to be released in Spring 2020.

Frontline Worker Survey: Government Consultation To Remove Section 21 Of The Housing Act 1988

The Frontline Network recently submitted written evidence to the Government's consultation seeking views on their decision to repeal Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 – the no-fault eviction notice, and improve Section 8 grounds.

We ran a seven-question survey, asking frontline workers for their views on this very importance tenancy reform. Our questionnaire findings confirmed that frontline workers strongly believe landlords should no longer be able to evict tenants at short notice, and without good reason.

Key Findings

Between 15th August 2019 – 10th September 2019, the Frontline Network conducted an online survey on repealing Section 21. Overall, the results suggest frontline workers believe the repeal of Section 21 is a positive step in providing increased stability for tenants:

  • 73% of frontline workers believed that Section 21 (Housing Act 1988) should be repealed, in contrast to 12% who didn’t (15% were unsure).

  • Most significantly, 84% of frontline workers stated they have supported individuals who have been made homeless as a result of receiving a Section 21 eviction notice.

  • A further 75% of frontline workers believe that Section 21 (Housing Act 1988) has either a negative or very negative impacted upon their ability to prevent homelessness.

  • Most frontline workers, 71%, believed that repealing Section 21 (Housing Act 1988) would have a positive or very positive impact on their ability to prevent homelessness in the future.

Overall, frontline workers have strongly welcomed repealing legislation (Section 21), which allows eviction notices to be served at short notice, and without good reason. However, in the absence of a Section 21 notice, improved tenancy rights must be implemented by the Government.

This will mean, in the event of an eviction notice being served, that legal recourse is available to tenants and the appropriate preventative duties are exercised by the local authority.

Nevertheless, many frontline workers have suggested that removing Section 21 could have the unintended consequence of making it harder to access accommodation, with more restrictive pre-tenancy checks.

In order to improve access to accommodation for individuals experiencing homelessness, frontline workers ask for a renewed focus, and greater funding, to tackle the root causes of access to accommodation.

Thank you to everyone that participated in our online survey.

At the Frontline Network, we support workers from the public, statutory and voluntary sectors working on the frontline with those experiencing homelessness.

Please join the Frontline Network for free today, if you are not already a member.

Frontline Worker Survey 2018

Please read the key findings and impact of our Frontline Worker Survey 2018 here, and what we’ve done so far. 

Key Findings:

  • In the Frontline Worker 2018 survey, 82% of frontline workers found it overwhelmingly difficult to prevent homelessness.
     
  • 80% of all frontline workers found it difficult or very difficult to access accommodation within the Local Housing Allowance rate.
     
  • The survey also found that access to ‘mental health support and benefits support’ has got harder for frontline workers across every region in the UK.
     
  • While 98% of frontline workers felt ‘having enough time to do my job effectively’ was extremely or very important; only 42% of frontline workers felt they had enough time to do their job effectively.
     

Impact of the Frontline Worker Survey 2018

  • “My Policy Officials will make sure to feed the findings of this survey into our policy development, particularly on workforce capability” (Minister for Local Government and Homelessness, October 2019)
     
  • “We are grateful for your continued support and investment that ensures frontline workers are able to influence and shape national policy based on their expertise.” (Directorate for Housing and Social Justice: Scottish Government, October 2019)
     
  • The frontline worker difficulties expressed in finding accommodation within the LHA rate were highlighted within Crisis’ report: “Cover the Cost: Restoring Local Housing Allowance rates to prevent homelessness”.
     
  • We also presented the survey’s findings at the Homeless Link Policy Forum on the impact of the Homelessness Reduction Act on Single Homelessness in London. You can find our guest briefing for Homeless Link’s London Plus Project Newsletter here.
     
  • Homeless Link recently developed a webinar on Universal Credit, which was informed by feedback from this survey – addressing some of the key concerns raised by frontline workers.
     
  • We used the findings in this survey to support our recent evidence submission to the Government's consultation on repealing Section 21: the no-fault eviction notice. Our findings confirmed that frontline workers strongly believe landlords should no longer be able to evict tenants at short notice, and without good reason.
     

What We've Done So Far


Training Fund

In our 2018 survey, over 80% of frontline workers felt it would be useful for the Frontline Network to provide funding for training. We are now pleased to launch our 'Training Fund'.

Any frontline worker who has registered with the Frontline Network can apply. This enables any frontline worker to apply for funding to attend either existing training, or to commission bespoke training where there is a high enough need in their area.

Vicar’s Relief Fund grant

In 2017/18 the Vicar’s Relief Fund awarded 3981 grants to help people access accommodation, and 1646 grants to help prevent eviction. We will review how the VRF can best encourage further access to accommodation and support frontline workers in dealing with the challenges arising from new legislation.

Ideas Fund

We will continue to support innovation on the frontline through the Ideas Fund. The Ideas Fund can help you access funding to turn an idea that will improve the situation for people experiencing homelessness into reality. The funding ranges from £200 to £10,000, for ideas big and small. You can use it to develop creative solutions and new ways of working.

Frontline Network Survey: C-19 And Homelessness

The Frontline Network recently submitted written evidence to the Government's inquiry seeking views on the impact of COVID-19 on homelessness.

During the COVID-19 crisis outbreak, we saw an opportunity to do more to help people who have been directly affected by COVID-19, which is why we created the “VRF - Emergency Fund”.

To identify the best ways of supporting people experiencing homelessness at this time, we set up the 'Emergency Fund Survey', to gather feedback from frontline workers on what they were seeing and what was needed.

Our eighteen-question survey confirmed that, so far, there are consistently high levels of need for accommodation where individuals can self-isolate; a high need for food and essentials; and an increasing need for the digital resources necessary to keep in contact with key workers and support networks.

Please find below a summary of our survey’s key findings from 19th March - 30th March 2020, with focus on two areas where the Committee is interested in finding out more:

Key Findings

Overall, frontline workers have stated there are consistently high levels of need for accommodation where individuals can self-isolate; a high need for food and essentials; and an increasing need for the digital resources necessary to keep in contact with key workers and support networks.

Whilst great efforts have been made to accommodate individuals, our feedback confirms that frontline workers are finding it hard to contact the people they support - especially as many do not have access to digital resources.

The concern over contact has been highlighted both in terms of supporting identifying individual’s immediate needs; (i.e. food supplies, sanitisation products and payment of utility bills), to identifying people’s longer-term support needs during self-isolation.

As face-to-face homelessness services remain closed in line with public health guidance, there should be a recognition that great support can be provided through increase access to digital resources.

Without this access, there is a significant concern that individuals will lose direct contact with their key workers and vital support networks.

 

Government Response

On 25th June 2020 the Government produced a response by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee’s report on protecting rough sleepers and renters.

You can read their response here.

Universal Credit - Frontline Network Submission To House Of Lords

The Frontline Network recently submitted evidence to the House of Lords Universal Credit Call for Evidence. We ran a one question survey and asked frontline workers “How has your work changed since the introduction of Universal Credit?” We had 128 responses and from these, three key themes stood out:

  • Financial Hardship and the Five Week Wait
  • Digital and Banking Access
  • Access to Accommodation

Financial Hardship and the Five Week Wait

When responding, staff often highlighted concern over the waiting times for Universal Credit and the impact this can have. One example of this is how the increased wait is leading to a greater reliance on food banks. In addition to this, staff have noticed that there is now a greater need for debt management support.

Digital and Banking Access

Staff emphasised that many of the people they work with have limited digital access. With Universal Credit claims being done digitally, difficulties arise when there is limited digital access or limited digital skills. These issues can be further impacted by individuals not having an email address or a bank account.

Access to Accommodation

Frontline staff also highlighted that issues with Universal Credit have impacted on access to accommodation. The number of private landlords willing to accept people on benefits has reduced. The length of time it takes to process claims and the difficulty in being able to secure payments have both impacted on this.

Local Solutions

In our submission, we also outlined some local initiatives that have been used to mitigate the impacts of Universal Credit. These initiatives were taken from the findings of our latest annual Frontline Worker Survey.

Examples of local initiatives included:

  • Building relationships with local Job Centre and Department for Work and Pensions, included having a named contact.
  • Working with local organisations to increase provision of digital access points.
  • Developing relationships with local banks so that they accept minimum ID to set up an account.
  • Ensuring organisations are not working in silos and working together to ensure responses are more joined up.

Overall, most frontline workers indicated a negative experience of Universal Credit and the impact it has on the people they support. It has increased the financial strain and risk of homelessness that people face.

Thank you to everyone that replied to our survey.

VRF Emergency Fund Survey

During this outbreak, we have heard from hundreds of frontline workers whose services have been affected by the outbreak.

As people go into isolation, an increased number of face-to-face services are closing due to public health concerns.
 
The impact for those experiencing homelessness who usually receive support through these services is huge.

To ensure the VRF – Emergency Fund responds to immediate and evolving needs, we developed an 'Emergency Fund Survey'.

This survey has been responded to by over 1050 frontline workers in two weeks. We would like to extend our sincere thanks for offering your time and expertise to inform how our fund is designed.

 
Key areas where Frontline Workers have asked for support

 

  • Help to access accommodation to self-isolate
     
  • Help to access food and basic essential items
     
  • Help to provide mobile phones/digital resources/internet access
     
  • Help to source personal protective equipment
     

From our survey's feedback, frontline workers initially requested urgent financial support to access food supplies and other basic essential items for the people they support.

However, many have now stated that the people they support have no access to phones, digital resources, or the internet. The concern is that many have now lost all forms of contact with their key worker.
 
We have also seen a significant rise in the number of frontline workers requesting personal protective equipment, as well as hygiene products for the people they support.