Local Government Roundtable: Harnessing Digital to Prevent Homelessness

The latest official figures show an estimated 4,134 people in England were forced to sleep outside in 2016, up 16% on the previous year. Tackling and preventing homelessness is one of the biggest challenges facing cities and local government. Furthermore, the Government’s new Homelessness Reduction Act, will place more responsibility on local government to prevent homelessness when it comes into force in April 2018.

With the Act requiring local authorities to carry out additional duties to relieve homelessness and to intervene earlier to prevent people becoming homeless, a new and innovative approach is urgently needed. Making better use of tech and data must be a crucial element of councils’ strategy for preventing homelessness. By unlocking the potential of their existing data, local authorities can begin working more strategically to predict and prevent homelessness by identifying households at risk of losing their home.

This is already being done in many places. New York City government, for example, has pioneered new approaches for preventing homelessness through the use of data and analytics, while councils such as Redditch are using apps to enable the public to alert the local authority about people sleeping rough on the streets. Most recently there was also the #homelesshack hackathon event which took a collaborative approach by bringing together teams of technology developers to solve this important problem facing all of our communities.

With a renewed focus on prevention, this timely roundtable, hosted by techUK and LGiU, will be an opportunity to bring together senior local government officers and members and tech industry specialists to discuss how the sectors can collaborate most effectively across the policy eco-system and within communities to prevent homelessness. It will be a chance to learn and share what colleagues in other councils are already doing, as well as to discuss the potential of digital to transform service outcomes.

Key questions this roundtable will explore include:

  • How will the new Homelessness Reduction Act impact local government and how are councils planning for the change?
  • How are councils currently using data and technology to tackle homelessness? Is this working?
  • How can we harness the power of data to predict and prevent homelessness going forward?
    • What type of data do we need and how can we ensure the data is timely, reliable and held securely?
    • How can councils overcome data sharing obstacles to collaborate more effectively with key partners across the community?
    • How can we place data at the heart of service design?
  • What barriers may prevent councils from maximising the value of their data? How might these be overcome? For example, lack of leadership, legal compliance issues, staff skills gaps and ethical considerations.
  • In a more digitised society what should the future of homelessness services look like?

Places are limited, if you would like to express an interest in attending please contact Georgina Maratheftis.

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