Cross-sector approach to tackling homelessness in Essex

A dynamic and ambitious countywide approach to reduce homelessness and increase the supply and quality of housing for vulnerable people in Essex.

Housing Advisers Programme case study

2019/20 cohort

What went in

  • Priority area addressed: A dynamic and ambitious countywide approach to reduce homelessness and increase the supply and quality of housing for vulnerable people. We recognised there is a housing crisis that significantly affects Essex. In 2018 Essex had 1,948 households in Temporary Accommodation, an increase of 46 per cent in 10 years. Rough sleeping has fallen in 2019 to 85 individuals, but this is 75 per cent higher than in 2010. There were also a number of particularly vulnerable people who are in our residential care establishments who could live in independent accommodation. Essex County Council has assessed a need for an additional 530 homes with onsite care for older people.
  • Budget: £49,000
  • Other resource needed: In addition to the recruitment of a consultancy to develop the 4 main projects: Hospital discharge housing protocol, Prisoner release housing protocol, development of accommodation pathways between County and Districts, and an affordable accommodation plan for the county. We have also needed the support and buy in from external partners to turn ideas into reality, particularly the district housing partners in producing the work plans, protocols and governance.
  • Time taken to achieve outcomes: The programme was envisaged to last 12 months from September 2019 to September 2020 however, following the impact of the COVID Pandemic the programme was extended by 3 months until the end of December 2020.

What came out


  • Hospital Discharge Housing Protocol – Working with Health, Housing and Voluntary sector partners in the development of a protocol covering 3 Hospitals in Essex and the unitary authority of Southend on Sea.
  • Prison Release Housing Protocol – Mainstreaming the recently developed protocol including the establishment of both the governance and the scoping of ex offender housing needs in Essex and subsequent joined up plan moving forward
  • Affordable Accommodation – Taking forward the existing collaborative work with the National Housing Federation and Housing Associations on the growth of affordable and social housing in Essex with the aim to reduce homelessness and to develop a greater number of properties in Essex that people moving on from homelessness are able to rent.
  • Accommodation Pathways - Matching the need for housing for vulnerable people supported by adult social care and children & family services with the provision of housing within districts: for vulnerable groups. The consultant established collaborative working across the county between adult social care commissioners and districts to facilitate a deeper understanding of needs and the potential pipeline of homes to meet those needs. The vulnerable groups included people with learning or physical disabilities, people facing mental health issues care leavers and young people. 

Difference made/indication of success:

  • Hospital Discharge Housing Protocol The Essex hospital discharge housing protocol was developed with health, housing and voluntary sector partners This protocol will:
    • reduce health inequalities for homeless and rough sleepers in Essex
    • reduce bed blocking in hospitals freeing up much needed bed and reducing health costs
    • reduce the numbers of Essex patients who end up homeless at housing offices.

Two services; one in Southend Hospital commissioned by Southend on Sea Council and one covering Basildon and Broomfield hospitals commissioned from Essex County Council were brought together. These services are now coordinated and provide a seamless service independent of what hospital or housing authority the patient is resident off, the full impact of these changes will not be fully known until at least July 2021.

  • Prison Release Housing Protocol – The development of a needs and supply assessment of the housing requirements for ex-offenders in Essex that will assist in the planning of  ex offender accommodation moving forward so reducing the number of ex-offenders that end up rough sleeping in Essex. The impact of this plan will be monitored over the next few years along with the numbers of ex-offenders released from prison who end up rough sleeping.
  • Affordable Accommodation – the development of a plan between developers, planners and housing teams in Essex aimed at increasing the number of affordable accommodations available to rent.
  • Accommodation Pathways The development of a commissioning group including commissioners from Essex County Council (Tier 1 authority) and districts (Tier 2 authorities) housing teams and an action plan and protocol, promoting joined up working between organisations in relation to those with mental health, older people, children and care leavers moving into and out of supported accommodations.


Rod Cullen – Housing Growth Lead (Homelessness & Rough Sleeping) [email protected]