31/08/2018 – Impact of cuts to Housing Support Services
Impact briefing on the effect of cuts to housing support services by West Sussex county council abolishing the fund
Briefing by West Sussex Labour councillors
Accommodation Based Services affected for Adults and Young People across West Sussex
Providers who get funding from WSCC: Crawley Open House, Worthing Churches, Bognor Housing Trust, Stonepillow, Safe in Sussex Home Group, Crawley Foyer, Quick Access Beds for Youth Homelessness, Southdown Independent Living Scheme, Crawley Life House, CGL, Peabody South East, Sanctuary, Life Housing and YMCA Downslink.
Impact: The young people and adults that are referred to these services by District and Borough councils across West Sussex are aged 18+ and are services to get people rough sleeping off the streets or prevent them from falling into rough sleeping when either their home life or local authority care accommodation comes to an end and they take steps into independence.
If these services closed due to the funding shortages, we would most certainly see a significant increase in street homelessness. This in turn is likely to see an increase in activities such as begging, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour in town centres, public places and open spaces. There would be no outreach workers or day centre provision currently offered by these providers. This in turn will hit services such as housing options services, community wardens, Police, Nuisance and Anti-Social Behaviour Teams, DWP, Local Businesses, Mental Health Services, Ambulance Services, Street Triage Service and Hospital Admissions, in terms of increased demands, and therefore costs of providing the services.
Under the Homelessness Reduction Act, all District and Borough Councils have a duty to help prevent and relieve homelessness for anyone aged 18+ and to work with West Sussex County Council for 16/17 year olds. If these accommodation services were no longer available, the prevention and relief options available to the Districts and Boroughs would be significantly diminished. Services were originally commissioned by WSCC as the bulk of this group do not qualify for long-term assistance from District and Borough councils under the Homeless Legislation as, according to rules set by the Government, they are either ‘non-priority’ or ‘intentionally homeless’.
For those young people leaving home or WSCC care, who are then unable to sustain general needs accommodation without support will become ‘intentionally homeless’. The District and Borough councils would not have a duty to provide long-term or permanent accommodation for most of these people, but would see an increase in the numbers and costs of providing temporary accommodation as a result of those that we would have duty towards, together with the already scarce temporary accommodation provision in the county disappearing under the demand. Temporary accommodation costs are much higher per person than general social housing costs, and many District and Borough Councils will tell you that the rising costs and the impact on the overall council budget, as a result, is one of their biggest concerns even currently.
Housing provided under the Independent Living Scheme providing accommodation and “floating support” to individuals who require additional help to sustain a tenancy. The end of the funding would result in this scheme coming to an end. The Districts and Boroughs would not have a duty to provide long-term accommodation to the majority of this group of people, and it is likely to result in further street homelessness.
Homeless Prevention Partnership
Southdown floating support services including co-located workers in Districts and Boroughs, and in Hospitals across West Sussex.
Some Districts and Boroughs currently have Southdown Floating Support workers to assist households (singles and families) in the prevention and relief of homelessness. This early intervention model helps them to either resolve and sustain their current accommodation or find alternative accommodation, and helps those who have additional support needs that mean they require more time and support than council staff can provide, due to the levels of demands on the service. There may be other providers but your local knowledge will be better than mine.
Impact: The removal of these services will have a direct impact on the households who require additional support, on the number of crisis presentations to the Councils on discharge from hospitals and on the Councils to provide expensive emergency accommodation and meet our duties under the Homelessness Reduction Act. It will also impact on the other services of community wardens, Police, Nuisance and Anti-Social Behaviour Teams, DWP, Local Businesses, Mental Health Services, Ambulance Services, Street Triage Service and Hospitals.
Sheltered Housing Services, Lifeline, Extra Care Services. Sheltered Housing (Council and Registered Social Landlord), Lifeline Services (countywide service run from Chichester which gets alerts if residents press an alarm on their pendant) and Extra Care housing will all be at risk, with this withdrawal of funding.
As far as sheltered housing goes, it is likely that many sheltered schemes would have to be totally reformed in how they were run (if they could continue in that form at all) and there is a risk that a lot of staff, such as the wardens, may not be affordable. The councils, and RSLs such as housing associations, will undoubtedly be reluctant to confirm how bad it will be before a significant review of the recent news of the cut by WSCC. Undoubtedly such concerns will worry and distress many of the elderly residents who currently live there and are comfortable with their current arrangements.
Extra Care housing schemes are purpose-built housing for older people who have housing, care and support needs. These schemes are operated by local registered social landlords where the individual self-contained flats are made available to applicants on the housing register, with the majority referred from Social Services and Health (hospitals/GP’s). Applicants with high care needs are offered this type of accommodation rather than continue to receive care in their own home which is often not possible or sustainable. This type of housing prevents the need for people to be placed into a residential or a nursing home to receive care. Most schemes are dementia friendly which means residents can stay much longer before residential care is considered.
The ‘extra’ in extra care housing is generally recognised to be access to care services that can:
- Respond quickly to residents changing needs
- Provide unplanned care as and when required in addition to planned care and
- Provide an emergency response.
Often people are offered this type of accommodation following a long period in hospital where otherwise the discharge back home would not be possible – reducing bed blocking/rehabilitate back in the community. Care Packages are funded via Adults Services via block contracts. Tenancy Support (the scheme manager) funded by WSCC to ensure wellbeing and health and promote independence in the community. The Scheme Manager also provide the direct link with residents to health and social services.
Without this type of accommodation District and Borough councils across West Sussex would not be able to allocate this type of housing to those who need it. Social Security and Hospitals won’t be able to refer patients into this type of housing which would have a significant impact on hospital discharges, and residents’ care needs not being met in the community. In addition it could force people into elderly residential care before their time, and there is already a huge shortage of places in West Sussex, so it could mean forcing them to move out of the area.
Why all this is unlikely to make any savings at all, despite all the damage it will do
West Sussex County Council have accommodation duties to young people in care, 16/17 year old’s, vulnerable adults and children at risk of street homelessness where the local housing authority is unable to assist. The Quick Access Beds across West Sussex is used to provide accommodation to a significant number of young people who would have otherwise gone into care. In addition to this, WSCC negotiated a significant number of young people to remain at home until a supported housing vacancy became available.
The cost to WSCC of having to provide accommodation under these duties is likely to negate any savings they make through cuts to the supported housing budget. If the cuts go ahead, current providers will either exit the market or be alienated so that when the true costs to all services are realised, the commissioning of replacement services will either not be possible or the costs of doing so significantly higher.