Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council runs a busy and proactive Housing and Homelessness Prevention Team. With a heavy caseload of around 2,000 cases in acute need each year, the department is around 25 strong including a team of homelessness prevention officers.
Midway through its 2020 housing and homeless strategy, the borough council focused on delivering personalised, tailored support through strong partnerships to support customers who come to them.
Tom Roworth is one of the Senior Homeless Prevention Officers at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. He was involved in the trialling and selection of Housing Jigsaw as part of its overall transformation in preparation for the Homeless Reduction Act that came into force in April this year.
We spoke to him a couple of months after the Act came into force about the expectations and experiences of choosing Housing Jigsaw and how the system has supported the council with the anticipated changes to its workload.
Like all local authorities, it had done its research and due diligence and looked at the different solutions on the market.
“We had demos from many providers but the appeal to us was, clearly the price, but also how we were able to customise to our own needs. We were testing it back in December 2017 and it met every requirement we needed,” said Tom.
“The SAAS (Software as a Service) model was an appeal. The fact that it was a fixed rate and they made quite clear there were no additional costs obviously made it stand out. People know how providers can charge to make modifications”
The team had been thinking ahead and preparing well in advance. It was back in 2017 when it signed up for a trial of Housing Jigsaw, giving it a head start on understanding the implications of the HRA before it came into force.
“The changes in the HRA were pretty much as anticipated,” he said. “We had seen from the local authorities that were trailblazing that they had roughly a 30% increase in approaches. We’ve not seen that increase in numbers yet but have experienced the increase in depth of work needed with each case. We knew there would be longer interview times and how cases will be with us for a longer period of time. The people who worked on it had been there and been housing officers
“We knew as an authority that we were always aiming to prevent homelessness as a priority anyway. We didn’t envisage massive changes to the way we were working on that front, more the process around it,” he added.
We asked Tom how the teams have found working with our software. “It certainly has been a help and not a hindrance,” he said. “It’s also good for any new starters as well. It takes the full process and you can customise it to how you like to work as a local authority. Everything is all in one place and the journal is a good thing to have when you have such a high caseload, as it can be quite easy to lose track.”
If you want to know more about Housing Jigsaw, visit our solutions page here