Evaluation of the local authority housing hubs approach

The report presents findings from an evaluation of local authority hubs set up to prevent homelessness by pursuing a housing options approach.

7 Replicating the Hubs model in other service areas

7.1 This evaluation has described how being part of a Hub can benefit a local authority in number of ways, including: helping to build confidence in and create 'buy in' to the housing options approach; providing reassurance on progress towards developing services; and learning through sharing best practice and carrying out joint projects. As a result, it is worth considering whether the model could be used to help local authority representatives in other service areas.

7.2 This chapter first considers whether Hub members and Heads of Service felt there would be merit in using the Hubs model in other service areas. It then concludes with best practice guidance on how the Hubs model could be best designed to meet the needs of local authorities in other service areas and ensure they receive maximum benefit from Hubs.

Wider applicability of Hubs

7.3 Hub members and Heads of Service felt that there could be value in rolling out the Hub approach, either to areas related to housing or in other service areas. They recognised that the principles of the approach - joint-working, and developing and sharing best practice - were very positive.

7.4 However, while they felt that many of these individual principles could be used in any service area, for the Hubs model itself to be valid and effective, it would need to be applied to an area where the challenges faced by local authorities are similar to those which prompted the development of the Hubs. These include: the implementation of a new service or policy initiative within a certain time period, or in order to meet a specified target; and differential levels of 'buy in' to, and implementation of, a new service or policy initiative across local authorities.

7.5 There were two examples given of potentially suitable service areas or upcoming challenges where the Hubs model might be used to benefit local authorities:

  • within housing, one Hub member felt that the Hub model could assist local authorities with developing ways to make provisions to meet the Housing Support Assessment Duty
  • in social services, the Hub model could be used to help local authorities develop and implement services related to Self-Directed Support (SDS) reforms. The challenges faced by local authorities in implementing the legislation appear to mirror those of housing options: the legislation necessitates a culture change in the way that social care services are provided; local authorities are at different stages in developing approaches (a number of SDS 'test sites' have been created); and the effective delivery of services requires partnership working between internal departments and external organisations.

7.6 These examples are not intended to be an exhaustive list of service areas where the Hubs model could be applied. There may be a range of other areas which might benefit from Hub working, which Hub members and Heads of Service were not aware of.

Best practice guidance

7.7 The evaluation is able to offer some insights into how the Hubs model could be best designed. The following measures should be taken to ensure maximum benefit is derived from the Hubs model:

During the setup of Hubs:

  • Organisers (e.g. the Scottish Government) and Hub members (e.g. local authorities) should agree general principles at the outset of Hubs around the aims of the process and what Hubs are being set up to achieve - in the absence of a clear understanding of what Hubs have been set up to achieve Hubs will take longer to 'find their feet'
  • Organisers should host events/seminars with Hub members to launch the Hubs approach - these events help to increase 'buy in' to the approach, by signalling the organiser's endorsement of the Hubs approach and related new service or policy initiative, and provide an opportunity to communicate the aims of the approach to Hub members
  • Organisers and Hub members should ensure that each Hub is made up of members at different stages in the development of services - through the Hub, local authorities with less well developed approaches will be able to learn from the experience of those who have already developed services. This might include visits to more advanced local authorities to see firsthand how the approach is working
  • Organisers and Hub members should set up formal mechanisms to share information between Hubs - this will help to increase the pool of best practice available to local authorities
  • Organisers should ask for volunteer 'lead' Hub members that are committed to the work of their Hub - they need to be willing to commit time to oversee the development of their Hub. This will ensure the continuity of their Hub

Once the Hubs have been set up:

  • Hub members should schedule regular and frequent meetings - meeting regularly and often will help Hubs to develop more quickly and ensure the continuity of Hub activities
  • Hub members should have more regular meetings in the initial development of the Hub - this will allow sufficient time for Hubs to 'find their feet': for members to get to know each other better, develop trust, learn about each others' existing approaches; and develop clear aims for the Hub
  • Organisers should make funding available to Hub members to carry out joint project work only after Hubs have had time to develop clear aims - this will help to ensure Hubs make more informed decisions about how to spend the money most effectively. While funding is important as an incentive for local authorities to join the Hub, making funding available too early in the Hub's development can be a distraction for Hub members, with initial meetings being focused on how to spend the available funding rather than on sharing what best practice is already known within the group
  • Hub members should recruit administrative support - administrative tasks are a very big commitment so some form of administrative support will ensure that the representative from the 'lead' authority is not overburdened with Hub-related tasks.


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