To receive a report from the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and the Corporate Director of Social Care, Health and Wellbeing and to consider and either endorse or make a recommendation to the Cabinet Member on the proposed decision to work in collaboration with current providers to explore and secure alternative funding models, enabling the gradual withdrawal or reduction of the Council’s contribution towards housing related support and community alarms in sheltered housing by the end of March 2018.
Emma Hanson (Head of Strategic Commissioning – Community Services) and Mel Anthony (Commissioning and Development Manager) were in attendance for this item.
1. Mel Anthony introduced the report and outlined the background to Housing-Related Support and Community Alarms in Sheltered Housing. Kent County Council had issued a joint accommodation strategy that highlighted ambitions to deliver for the Extra Care Housing to address housing needs of older people in need. Central Government had held an evidenced review, a consultation and an inquiry to set a course to change the way in which supported housing was funded. In this model, a proportion of an estimated £2 billion would be devolved to local level. The County Council proposed to work collaboratively with providers of sheltered housing schemes to help them to make the transition to the new arrangements. An event was held to deliver training and raise awareness to organisations at senior levels to help them understand the changes and prepare.
a) A Member asked questions about possible issues and concerns related to costs and support required. She also proposed that the decision be delayed for one year to allow a contingency plan to be put in place. Ms Anthony said that the team were working with providers collaboratively and understood that the transition process would be challenging. An event was held with East Kent Housing to look at how the process could be implemented whilst ensuring people in Sheltered Housing were fully supported. Any person in Sheltered Housing who had eligible needs would continue to receive the specialist services;
b) Mrs Chandler declared an interest as a board member of East Kent Housing. She also wanted to be sure that the housing providers’ expertise and time would be used to assist residents to access the changed housing benefit. Ms Anthony reassured the Committee that the team worked closely with the providers to ensure that needs were met and appropriate resources were available;
c) Another speaker supported the proposal to delay the decision by one year in order to look more closely at the concerns highlighted. Ms Anthony confirmed that the change would be implemented in April 2019 and if this were to be delayed, there would be a risk of insufficient funds. Organisations had had time to prepare for the change as the Government had been aware of this change since 2015. The aim was to guarantee the future of supported housing in Kent and ensure that action was taken to support the organisations that were making the transition and ensure that this was done properly;
d) A Member said that this would prove to be challenging and sought a guarantee that would be able to move through the transition process within the given timeframe;
e) A Member asked for further information relating to the other providers that were experiencing similar problems to Canterbury. Ms Anthony said that the team had worked most closely with Canterbury, Dover and Shepway because they had been significantly affected by the different arrangements; all sheltered housing ... view the full minutes text for item 19