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Council approves plan for improved homelessness support services
Release date: Fri, 05/10/2012
Bristol City Council has approved proposals aimed at overhauling the lower and floating homelessness support services that it commissions in order to deliver improved outcomes for service-users and better value for money.
The council has already consulted on its proposals for re-commissioning of homelessness services for accommodation-based services for people with high-support needs which have been amended and approved by Cabinet.
The latest proposals cover those at the lower to medium level of need and support to people in private and social independent housing.
The key outcomes of the latest review include:
- Better outcomes for clients – enabling them to move into independent living and stay there without becoming homeless again
- Adopting new ways to help people become independent including more emphasis on training and practical skills, a greater use of peer mentors and volunteers and a more holistic approach which will include lifeskills
- Providing more specialist services for younger people aged 16-21 who make up the majority of clients for these services
- Increasing emergency accommodation for families (from 63 beds to 71 in the first year)
- Greater provision of supported accommodation for women only
- Commissioning of regular training in order to raise the quality of initial referrals
Councillor Anthony Negus, Cabinet Member for Housing, Property and Regeneration, said: “The re-commissioning of these homelessness services will enable us improve the quality of help that we provide to single people, families and young parents whose needs are at the lower end of the scale.
“In particular, we will be improving outcomes for service-users by ensuring that we break the cycle of homelessness that can see people repeatedly returning to hostels by providing them with the skills they need to move on with their lives. This will include more focused training and practical workshops, peer-mentoring and a more consistent level of monitoring.
“Nearly two-thirds of those in supported accommodation are under 25 years old and a high proportion of these are not currently receiving services designed specifically for young people, something which they have said they want and need in order to help them move on and into independent living.
“We will be significantly increasing the number of beds in supported accommodation that are available for 16 to 24-year-olds and for women only.
“We want to build on the work that we have done to date to tackle homelessness and help people re-build their lives by providing services that better meet the needs of these vulnerable clients and help them to move on.”
He added that the revised proposals were the result of an extensive consultation exercise in which the council has listened to a wide range of views from providers and service-users.
A report to Bristol City Council Cabinet said that demand for these homelessness support services were expected to increase ‘substantially’ because of the changes to welfare benefits, the lack of affordable housing in Bristol and the continuing economic downturn.
The number of placements is expected to rise from October 2013 from a total of 1,324 in 2011/12 to up to 1,686, a rise of nearly a quarter.
But the report said this would need to be accompanied by a better use of beds in supported accommodation more effectively by reducing the average level of stay to nine months for 90 per cent of clients and reducing the average void time – the time that a room is empty between placements of service-users.
Councillor Negus added: “The overall budget for these services is reducing by 11 per cent to £3.7 million as a result of Government funding cutbacks. We recognise that there is a challenge to meeting increased demand less money, but we believe that we can re-configure the way these services are provided in order to get more value from the funding we have and help people better.”