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Prompted by the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act, Luton Council used data analysis to prevent hardship

Luton Borough Council

Local Authority

LIFT Platform

Luton Councils’ data-led approach to tackling homelessness

Lord Bird, founder of the Big Issue, recently hosted a Leading Lights Network event for Policy in Practice at the House of Lords to discuss the role public sector data has in identifying financial vulnerability and tackling homelessness.

One of the speakers was Nikki Middleton, Head of Customer Services at Luton Borough Council, a homelessness trailblazer local authority. Policy in Practice has been working closely with Luton, in collaboration with service design agency UsCreates (now part of FutureGov), to build a proactive and data-led approach to tackling homelessness. In this case study we share 7 lessons learned so far.

Clive Jones, Head of Revenue and Benefits, Luton Council shares the impact COVID-19 has had on the financial resilience of residents and the role that data and LIFT will play as they look to recovery.

Data and the homelessness reduction act: an opportunity for prevention

The introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) in 2018 placed new requirements on how local authorities deal with homelessness. Many saw this as an opportunity to rethink their homelessness services altogether, with some pioneering authorities exploring the predictive potential of the data they hold.

Predictive data modelling is not new. It‘s widely used in various sectors from weather forecasting to policing, to identifying young people most at risk of becoming Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). Indeed, the original Policy Lab and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) project that informed the Trailblazer set out predictive data modelling as one of the referral routes into redesigned services.

As part of the HRA legislation, MHCLG introduced a new statutory data collection system called H-CLIC to track the prevention work that councils undertake. It systematically records preventative action for people identified as at risk of becoming homeless within 56 days. However, the system doesn’t capture outcomes of successful interventions taken before this 56 day threshold. Like Luton, local authorities want to take an early intervention approach because it’s easier and a more cost effective way to prevent homelessness. Policy in Practice helps councils use their data to identify who these households might be and how to track the outcomes of early interventions 6 or 12 months down the line.

Councils could explore the £7.5 million Digital Innovation Fund from the MHCLG. This is a fund for councils to bid
for support in developing new digital solutions for their challenges.

Drawing on the expertise we have working with administrative data on low-income households, we’ve built a model that can be identify households at financial risk early and then track their progress against the support they receive. This offers huge opportunities for local authorities who want to create targeted awareness campaign, measure impact and make the case for further investment.

We partnered with UsCreates, now FutureGov, to design, develop and trial a data-led preventative service for Luton that works on the front-line, and whose impact can be measured.

After six weeks of analysing data and mapping Luton’s current homelessness service, front-line staff trialled a number of service changes with an initial cohort of customers we identified as being at financial risk. At eighteen weeks, we reviewed Luton’s feedback and crunched their data again, to present a more refined and localised view. Here we present some of the lessons learnt so far.

7 key lessons for Luton

Learn more about the LIFT Platform helping Luton Borough Council

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