Aim of partnership is to re-engage residents before homes are lost
Sovereign Network Group (SNG) is working with housing and homelessness charity Shelter on a new initiative to prevent avoidable evictions due to ‘non-engagement’ in social housing.
Shelter will support customers to re-engage with the housing provider with the aim of reducing avoidable evictions.
The partnership follows the publication of a 2021 Shelter report which cited ‘non-engagement’ as one of the leading cause of evictions from social housing.
The initiative, which when trialled in Devon proved so successful with more than 75% of people re-engaging, is now being rolled out across the South and South West of England.
As a result, SNG will be able to refer customers who live in these areas, and who choose not to engage, to Shelter.
As an independent, Shelter will work with both housing provider and tenant to build a positive relationship and support customers to re-engage. It will also help to resolve any disputes and ensure that both parties understand their rights and responsibilities.
While the specific strategies used by Shelter will vary depending on the local context and the needs of the customer involved, they will actively reach out to customers who have been hard to contact to make them aware of the full range of support available from the housing provider. This includes help finding employment, debt advice and details of grants which may be available.
Advisers will make contact using a variety of channels such as phone calls, emails, letters, and in-some cases home visits. Once referred, customers will have access to further resources including financial counselling and housing advice.
SNG say the goal of the new partnership is to create an environment where customers feel comfortable reengaging, leading to improved living conditions, increased tenant satisfaction, and ultimately, more stable tenancies.
Jon Cox, head of tenancy sustainment at SNG said: “We recognise that sometimes no matter how hard and sensitively we try customers may feel overwhelmed and unable to communicate with us when tenancy issues arise.
“As one of the first initiatives of its kind in the sector, this partnership will support our customers to live well and sustain their tenancy when they otherwise may not be able to.”
Stuart Francis-Dubois, strategic lead at Shelter said: “We’re delighted to announce our partnership with SNG, aimed at providing invaluable support to some of their tenants during their times of need.
“By offering free, independent legal advice, we want to help people navigate their housing challenges and ultimately preventing evictions. Together, we are committed to making a positive difference in the lives of SNG’s tenants.”
SNG is funding the partnership over a two-year period and expects to support approximately 150 people in the first year. Subject to this year one performance, SNG will then look at rolling out the service to other areas.
New figures released from the government reveal £1.7 billion has been spent by local councils on temporary accommodation for homeless households in England in between April 2022 and March 2023 – a 9% increase in spending from the year before and a 62% increase in the last five years.
One third of the total was spent on emergency B&Bs and hostels.