The National Practitioner Support Service; a brief history
In April 2013, the National Practitioner Support Service (NPSS) was established to support local authorities to meet the 10 Local Challenges set out in the ‘Making every contact count’ report, which had been published the previous year by the Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness. Whilst set within the framework of the ‘Gold Standard Programme,’ the support NPSS provides to local authorities covers a wide spectrum with a common goal; the improvement of frontline housing and homelessness services with a view to increasing opportunities for the early intervention and prevention of homelessness.
The credibility of the National Practitioner Support Service comes from the experience of the team; all of whom are practitioners on secondment from local authorities across the country and who remain embedded in local services. This recognises local authorities’ preference for a local approach with national delivery.
The role of the National Practitioner Support Service
Tools and toolkits
The NPSS tools were developed to provide local authorities with a strategic framework on which to develop delivery plans, future proof service delivery and demonstrate the importance of ongoing financial investment.
NPSS has produced a range of comprehensive toolkits which support the operational delivery of local authority front line housing services and contain detailed guidance, template letters, standard forms, protocols and good practice examples across a number of key elements of the current homelessness prevention agenda.
NPSS has trained local authorities on a wider range of subjects relating to homelessness prevention including domestic abuse, ensuring a fit for purpose homelessness strategy, the importance of case file management, completing accurate P1e returns, demonstrating value for money adopting a PRSO policy and many more. 94% of all local authorities in England having attended NPSS training since 2013.
Website and email advice
NPSS also hosts a website providing local authorities with up to date information on the prevention of homelessness, this includes a suite of toolkits, presentations from local and regional event along with guidance and good practice from all key work streams of the service. Local authorities can contract their practitioner directly by phone or email, via a contact page on the website, via a team email and phone number or through social media. Statistics show that 98% of all local authorities in England have either logged onto the website for information or sent an email requesting advice from NPSS.
Locally based Sounding Boards
The sounding boards are mechanism for engaging with local authorities at a local level, allowing NPSS to share national policy, changes to legislation and case law and for local authorities to network, share ideas and concerns. The sounding boards clearly demonstrate how local authorities who are not currently engaged with the gold standard programme value the interaction and learning provided by the team. Statistics show that 70% of all local authorities have attended a sounding board since 2013.
NPSS works with lead officers within local authorities working to provide an early intervention and prevention focused service to both identify key issues in service delivery and develop a bespoke package of support to enhance service provision.