Cabinet asked to approve borough-wide consultation on proposals to recommission housing-related and homelessness services

23 November 2016

Proposals to recommission the four housing-related and homelessness contracts the Council holds will come before Cabinet for approval next week (Wednesday, 30 November), with a recommendation that if approved, consultation with the borough’s residents should begin immediately.

Cheshire West and Chester Council currently commissions four housing-related and homelessness services across the borough, run by different providers:
  • Housing-related floating support - a visiting support service, which aims to prevent a person losing their home in the first instance and helping people to resettle when moving on to independent living. The current service provider also operates advice and information hubs in key locations.
  • Housing-related support for people aged 16-25 years - supported housing service which can be deployed to any property, enabling preventative work to take place including mediation and supporting a tenancy.     
  • Housing related support for those over 25 years - support can be delivered to any property and also move with someone as they progress to independent living.   
  • Homelessness service for single people and couples - for those who are homeless and require a place to stay, including people who would otherwise be sleeping rough. The service has a proactive approach to outreach and works with other agencies to share intelligence and locate individuals.
All of the current contracts are due to finish at the end of March 2018 and the Council is now looking to ensure that the new service is more co-ordinated, efficient and continues to support some of the most vulnerable people within our society. The Council’s strategic commissioning team is looking for permission to launch a 12-week consultation on the new design of the service, beginning mid-December.  
 
Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Angela Claydon said: “Having a stable and affordable home is fundamental to someone’s quality of life. Whilst this is something that many of us take for granted, there are still too many individuals and families, who, for a variety of reasons, experience housing difficulties.
 
“We work closely with our partners to provide a range of services to support those who find themselves homeless or who need housing-related support but whilst excellent work is being done, homelessness is increasing.
 
“With more residents being placed in temporary accommodation we have an opportunity to review our approach and see how, with a clear focus on prevention, we can link vital services together in a more effective way to support those most vulnerable. We want local residents to share their views as part of this process and, if Cabinet approves the move next week, we will initiate a comprehensive 12-week consultation almost immediately.”  The new model before Members proposes to create a service with an increased focus on prevention that would be delivered by one provider – reducing fragmentation in the delivery of support.
 
This would support seamless provision for service users, joining up accommodation and support - including daytime activities - to prevent and alleviate homelessness and create more stable and sustainable lifestyles, whilst reducing confusion in regards to which provider offers what support.
 
The proposed new single service would include:
  • Increased focus on homelessness prevention
  • Greater integration with the Council’s Housing Team, West Cheshire Homes
  • Increased range of smaller-sized housing units for those requiring accommodation
  • Specified and increased temporary accommodation provision
  • More specialist services for 16 and 17 year olds
  • Increased access to emergency beds for people who would otherwise sleep rough
Preventative services including mediation, advice and information services, intervention services to provide support to people in their home, and emergency accommodation for people with nowhere else to go, including direct access emergency accommodation will make up the three key elements of the new offer. 
 
Councillor Claydon added: “The current range of housing-related support services provided across the borough costs the Council £2.6 million every year. We are under huge financial pressure to make savings and we believe that they can be made if we move from four separate contracts to one, but not at the expense of service users.
 
“For that reason we also want to invest in new daytime activities and increase the provision of Direct Access emergency accommodation, which will come at an additional cost and as such we have reduced the proposed saving from £500,000 to £250,000.
 
“We will look to engage and work closely with residents every step of the way, starting with the consultation. I would really like to hear from as many residents as possible on all aspects of the new service model and I would urge people to have their say.”
 
If approved by Cabinet next week the recommendations will then be considered by People Overview and Scrutiny Panel on Monday, 5 December. If no concerns are raised the next stage of beginning to consult with residents from December 15 will be delegated to Councillor Claydon.

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