What Works Community: getting to know Pembrokeshire County Council
The Pembrokeshire County Council office sits on the bank of the river Cleddau, where it runs through Haverfordwest. Haverfordwest is Pembrokeshire’s most populated town, home to 13,367 of Pembrokeshire’s 124,000 inhabitants. The county is an area of great national beauty and, as is often the case, this beauty brings its own challenges.
Pembrokeshire receives 4 million visitors each year. Coupled with a migration of retirees attracted by the landscape, this makes the population top heavy and housing market expensive. Second home ownership is at 6.1%, more than six times the Welsh average of 1.2%. This is a problem: homes that are empty between the holidays don’t bring very much to a community.
High house prices are asymmetrically matched by an average local household income of £23,192, which is £2475 lower than the Welsh average, and just 73% of people aged 16-64 are in employment. This imbalance has put high demand on housing and made homelessness a pressing issue in the area, and something that Pembrokeshire County Council are working hard to address.
On the plus side, street homelessness is rare, with 2018’s count only identifying 3 people. The most common reason for homelessness in Pembrokeshire was ‘loss of rented or tied accommodation’ followed by ‘parents not able or willing to accommodate’. In 2018 there were 449 prevent and 303 homelessness applications accepted.
Pembrokeshire recently developed a homelessness strategy action plan for the period between 2019 and 2023. Their operational priorities are shaped around prevention and improving access to sustained, settled accommodation.
At our kick-off meeting, we talked with a range of people working together to realise that ambition and drew on their experience and expertise to begin to identify the opportunity they would like to explore during the pilot.
Youth homelessness is a particular concern in the area. We heard that a number of factors prevent young people from accessing mainstream housing. For example, young people, especially those with criminal records, can be viewed as risky tenants by landlords. Records of previous anti-social behaviour can prevent young people from being housed within certain communities. They can also struggle to find guarantors which are needed in order to access a private rental sector property.
Another local challenge is limited social housing stock, and the need to make even better use of private rental sector accommodation to house people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
At the kick off event we also spent a lot of time exploring how communications both within and outside the council might be improved. People approaching their local authority for help will often be known to other teams and organisations locally, so how might better use of data help improve their experiences and outcomes?
Pembrokshire are looking forward to exploring these areas more in depth and selecting one focus at our first residential. We’ll be sharing more about their identified pilot challenge area soon.