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Council consults on proposals for improved homelessness support services
Release date: Wed, 27/06/2012
Bristol City Council has published proposals to overhaul a range of support services it commissions to prevent homelessness. The proposals aim to deliver improved outcomes for service-users and better value for money.
The new proposals cover both accommodation-based services and ‘floating’ support services to people in their own homes. The services are aimed at offering practical support to vulnerable people with the aim of helping equip them with the skills they need to live independently in the long-term.
The council is already re-commissioning support services for people with a high degree of need following public consultation. The current consultation centres on proposals for those whose support needs are rated low or medium.
Clients include women rough sleepers, young parents and families and refugees. Support is typically between one and four hours a week except in the case of young parents.
Councillor Anthony Negus, Cabinet Member for Housing, Property and Regeneration, said: “The re-commissioning of these homelessness support services offers an important opportunity to improve their performance in order to help more people move towards independent living more quickly.
“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 succeed in improving their lives.
“In addition, there is currently insufficient women-only accommodation for those with medium-support needs. We want to build on the work 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.”
Key facts highlighted by the consultation document include:
- Last year, around 525 people were placed in supported accommodation. This is expected to rise to 720 per year as a result of the increased numbers arriving from high-support accommodation
- Current service providers have expressed concern and frustration about the quality of referrals and the inconsistency of assessments
- A high proportion of clients have mental health problems, both diagnosed and undiagnosed and are either drug or alcohol abusers or are recovering from drug or alcohol addiction
The new proposals include:
- Increasing the amount of supported accommodation for single homeless people and families. In particular, the amount of specialist accommodation for people aged 16-24 will be boosted. The council also proposes to increase the amount of accommodation for women
- Around 90 per cent of those placed in supported accommodation are expected to stay for an average of nine months and the rest 18 months. Families normally stay for about four months before they move on to their own tenancy
- Providers will be expected to develop new and effective ways of providing support. This is likely to include greater use of volunteers, particular peer mentors who have had similar experiences to the people they are support
Councillor Negus added: “The overall budget for these services is reducing by 12 per cent to £3.5 million as a result of Government funding cutbacks. We recognise that there is a challenge to meeting increased demand with 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.”
The consultation proposals for re-commissioning homelessness prevention lower support and floating support can be found at http://www.bristol.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/housing/Draft%20plan%2013.6.12%20pdf%20vers.pdf You can complete the online questionnaire at .http://www.snapsurveys.com/swh/surveylogin.asp?k=133959299716
The consultation ends on August 10, 2012.
The public consultation on proposals for high-support services has now closed and the proposals, which were amended in the light of feedback from service providers and service-users were subsequently approved by Cabinet.