Housing

DWP gives work coaches more resources to help the homeless

“We know that homelessness isn’t inevitable and that a work coach asking the right questions can lead to someone getting the right support early enough to prevent them from losing their home."

EPA/Andy Rain

People at risk of homelessness will receive better housing advice when visiting the Jobcentre, the Government has claimed, thanks to a “toolkit” for staff developed in partnership with frontline charities.  

The Department of Work and Pensions said those facing or experiencing homelessness would receive information from work coaches backed by charities Crisis and Shelter to support them with housing need.

Work coaches will be given greater resources to assist the most vulnerable and learn from best practice to better handle complex cases. 

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Minister for welfare delivery Will Quince said: “Work coaches play a vital role in helping people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and this toolkit is another example of the tailored support available at the Jobcentre through Universal Credit.” 

“With information about the essential services of local support organisations, it can make all the difference to people facing homelessness – just when they need it the most.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has left millions at risk of losing their jobs and becoming homeless with  2.6 million people facing unemployment in the UK in 2021. 

In December 2019, before the pandemic, Shelter estimated that 280,000 people were homeless in England alone.

Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of Crisis, said the toolkit was based on learning from pilots and would equip Jobcentre staff with the information they need to support the most vulnerable and identify those at risk. 

Despite the complexity associated with homelessness and housing for those struggling to get by on benefits and in insecure accommodation, there was no bespoke toolkit for jobcentre staff on how to provide this assistance – until now. 

The toolkit features resources on practical support, information about services provided by support organisations, videos from those who have experienced homelessness, safeguarding resources to support the most vulnerable and success stories highlighting best practice. 

Work coaches will also be able to ask for support when it comes to the most complex cases to make sure those who need help most can get it. 

DWP National Account Manager Chris Leverington, who helped create the toolkit, said: “Our work coaches show so much compassion to those that are experiencing homelessness and facing housing challenges.

“The life-changing support that they provide is truly inspirational. And their breadth of knowledge has to be vast in order for them to provide the requisite support to individuals and the toolkit gives them the resources that they need to do that.”

Sparkes added: “We know that homelessness isn’t inevitable and that a work coach asking the right questions can lead to someone getting the right support early enough to prevent them from losing their home. That’s why this toolkit is an important step towards making sure the welfare system plays its part in ending homelessness for good.” 

The Big Issue has teamed up with more than 30 organisations to launch the Ride Out Recession Alliance to try and keep people in their jobs and homes.

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