Headlines: July 4th, 2008

Twelve local authorities have been chosen as trailblazers for a scheme under which they will offer advice on training, employment, childcare and other topics to people wishing to talk about their housing options. The councils have been chosen as winners of the first of two programmes under which some of them will move towards a ‘one stop shop’ approach of advice and links to job and training opportunities.

At the moment local people often have to go to several different departments or locations to get the advice they need to make decisions about where to live. The Housing Minister Caroline Flint, who announced the winners, said the chosen authorities would provide guidance on options from social housing to shared ownership and privately rented properties and would link this to wider employment-related advice. This would mean people were fully informed and could make the right choice according to their circumstances.

Each of the councils will get up to 350,000 pounds to develop their housing advice services and to link to employment advice and other services in line with locally identified needs. They will also take on a mentoring role and share best practice with around 20 local authorities that will receive funding for their own enhanced housing options schemes in 2009-2010.

The chosen trailblazers are the London boroughs of Camden, Croydon, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham and Southwark and the local councils serving Norwich, Nottingham, Kettering, Blackpool, Calderdale, Ashford and Bournemouth. Croydon, for example, will link housing advice with learning and training services through a scheme called ‘Broadening Horizons,’ under which two officers from the housing advice centre will go into the community.

Caroline Flint said, “I’ve seen at first hand the real difference that can be made by giving young people access to both housing and employment advice and we want this opportunity to be available to everyone.

These new trailblazers will do just that. They will be a stepping stone to independence, giving people the advice they need to find training and a job as well as a home.”