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Cardiff Council reveals housing and social services under huge pressure

THE NUMBER of calls made to Cardiff Council’s housing helpline has increased to its highest level over the past year.

Cardiff Council’s cabinet member for housing and communities, Cllr Lynda Thorne, said at a scrutiny committee meeting on Monday, May 15, that the challenges for services at the local authority remain “significant”.

Cllr Lynda Thorne

At the community and adult services scrutiny committee meeting members were also presented with data which showed how the number of new council housing repair jobs outstanding has reached its highest level over the past year.

The key underlying factors behind the pressure on the council’s housing and social services teams include an increase in demand, budgetary pressures, and staffing issues.

Cardiff Council’s cabinet member for adult social services, Cllr Norma Mackie, said there were “significant issues with both demand for services and the complexity of need remaining high”.

Cllr Thorne agreed with her colleague during the meeting, adding: “The pressure in some areas, such as homelessness as you know, remain unprecedented.”

The total calls made to the council’s housing helpline in quarter four of the 2022-23 period was 15,880.

With 13,536 of these calls having been handled the answer rate for for quarter four was at 85%. In quarter one it was 92% but in excess of 1,000 fewer calls were made during this period.

Cllr Thorne added: “Despite the pressures in the housing market homelessness was prevented in 79% of cases where help was sought at an early stage.

“The outreach team and the multi-disciplinary team continue to work well and rough sleeping has remained low in the city.”

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Council data also showed that there were more than 2,000 new council housing repair jobs outstanding for quarter for of the 2022-23 period and more than 2,600 follow-up jobs outstanding.

However the repair jobs backlog is at its lowest point over the course of the year at 101. In quarter one this was at 1,666 repair jobs.

The cabinet members did draw on some other positives.

Data in the housing and social services performance report shown to scrutiny members also shows that the percentage of social work vacancies at Cardiff Council has reduced from 14% in quarter one of the 2022-23 period to 9% in quarter four.

Cllr Mackie said: “Overall, very good progress has been made during the quarter despite the challenges.”

Cllr Thorne praised the council’s Housing First scheme and noted the delivery of a new family homelessness centre at the former Gasworks in Grangetown.

The council also successfully delivered the planned supported housing scheme for single people at Adams Court last year.

Cllr Thorne added: “Despite this due to the high numbers of homeless households presenting for help it has been necessary to use less suitable temporary accommodation such as hotels.

“We will continue to work to address this and to move people to more suitable housing as soon as possible.”

To address the pressure on council housing repairs Cardiff Council has looked at recruiting more staff and has developed a new team which will focus on damp and mould cases.