Agenda item

Portfolio Holder Update - Communities and Homelessness Prevention

To receive a Portfolio Holder Update on Communities and Homelessness Prevention from Councillor Pearce.



The Chair opted to take the report of the Portfolio Holder for Communities and Homelessness Prevention as read and go straight to questions.


Councillor Pearce responded to questions from Committee Members as follows:-


Severe Weather Protocol for Rough Sleepers

·       The rough sleepers who turned down offers of accommodation did so for a mixture of reasons;

·       Sometimes people were not found after contact had been made; and

·       Engagement remained the biggest challenge.


Community Lottery

·       The attribution of grants was currently administered on an ad hoc basis at the moment but would be curated by the Grants Panel in the future;

·       The new relaunch process was scheduled for May 2024;

·       Grants would be awarded in alignment with corporate priorities;

·       The Community Lottery website offered a detailed breakdown of where grants had been awarded;

·       All the details of the administrative costs involved were featured in the original report which went to Full Council;

·       Beside the administrative costs, it was worth noting that the lottery operative took all the risk;

·       With a hundred community groups having signed up to it, the Community Lottery represented value for money and was about incentivised giving rather than gambling;

·       While there hadn’t been a tailing off of participants, their patterns had changed; and

·       Some of the organisations who had scant – or in some cases zero – ticket sales would be given training.


Howell Rd Homeless Pods

·       The pods had been vandalised in January this year;

·       They had since been closed, repaired and relocated to a slightly different spot.


Refugee Schemes

·       Exeter had been a City of Sanctuary for many years, taking in refugees from e.g. Hong Kong, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria…;

·       There were many ways in which the Council could support refugees, through small grants but mainly through partnerships with organisations and structures such as the Devon-Ukraine Association, Inclusive Exeter, St Sidwell’s Community Café among many others;

·       The Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Welcome Programme was now closed and there was no current pathway for Hongkongers wishing to resettle in the UK anymore; and

·       There was currently no resettlement route for Palestinian refugees but, if there was one, Exeter would be part of it.


Asked how Scrutiny could help his portfolio area going forward, Councillor Pearce replied that:-

·       effective scrutiny consisted of more than just being quizzed by a committee;

·       the task & finish group on homelessness had been useful, and anything that looked into an issue in that level of detail was welcome;

·       ‘Community Grants’ was an area that deserved to be looked into;

·       any topic was worth considering so long as it delivered genuine proposals.


On the highlights and frustrations of his tenure as Portfolio Holder, Councillor Pearce mentioned the following:-



·       saving Wellbeing Exeter (even though it isn’t citywide at the moment);

·       the Local Authority Housing Fund

·       the increase in housing stock

·       the Disabled Facilities Grant



·       the lack/withdrawal of funding (e.g. Wellbeing Exeter)

·       the lack of longer-term funding decisions from the Government.


Members noted the update from the Portfolio Holder for Communities and Homelessness Prevention.


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