Approve the procurement of the property security element of the countywide Sanctuary Access for Eligible Residents (SAFER) Scheme and delegate authority to the Corporate Director Adult Social Care and Health to take relevant actions to facilitate the required procurement activity.
Reason for the decision:
Kent County Council (KCC) has a statutory responsibility under the Domestic Abuse (DA) Act 2021 to assess need, publish a strategy and commission Safe Accommodation support services to survivors of domestic abuse. Since 2021, the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has awarded a total of £12.6m new Grant funding to the council to support implementation of these duties until 2025.
Under the Act the definition of ‘safe accommodation’ includes refuges, Sanctuary Schemes, move-on, and dispersed accommodation.
A Sanctuary Scheme is a property where security or security measures have been installed, enabling survivors to remain in their own homes safely if they chose to do so. It also incorporates an element of specialist domestic abuse support to the individuals residing there.
The countywide assessment of need for support within ‘safe accommodation’ identified a gap in provision and found that there is not a geographically equitable Sanctuary offer across the county.
Options Considered & Disregarded:
Option 1 - Do nothing.The Needs Assessment has shown that there is not a consistent offer of sanctuary across the county, resulting in an in equitable offer of support to survivors and their children. Doing nothing will not address this identified gap in services and therefore the council will not be meeting its statutory duties.
Option 2 – Delegate funding and responsibility for delivery of property security measures to district and boroughs across Kent and commission support for adult survivors residing in properties where measures have been applied. It is recognised that this would likely result in multiple procurements and the opportunity for efficiencies through collaborative commissioning would be lost. There would be 12 separate sanctuary offers across the county with separate referral routes, making pathways unclear for survivors and referrers.
Option 3 – Procure a Sanctuary Scheme (property security measures and support for adult survivors) for areas where there is not currently a provision in place only. (Canterbury, Gravesham, Thanet, Dover, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Malling and Tunbridge Wells) It is recognised that this would likely result in 7 separate sanctuary offers across the county with separate referral routes, making pathways unclear for survivors and referrers. All offers would need to ensure a clear pathway for the provision of support for adults and new support service for children (due to be procured in April 2023) It is viewed that option 3 would be challenging to implement and deliver geographic equitability and the opportunity to achieve full efficiencies through collaborative commissioning would be lost.
Option 4 - Procure a countywide Sanctuary Scheme including Single point of access, Property security and Support package for adult survivors.This is the preferred option. It will support the council to address the findings of the needs assessment and meet its statutory duties by maximising the opportunities and offer of support within safe accommodation. In turn removing barriers to underserved groups in accessing existing safe accommodation and improving the councils offer to survivors of domestic abuse. Developing one service offer will create geographic equitability and clear referral pathways. One contract and procurement exercise will create economies of scale and efficiencies. There is also the opportunity to utilise existing contractual arrangements in place which will create further efficiencies. Commissioning and procurement resources are in place within the county council.
Kents proposed Sanctuary Access for Eligible Residents (SAFER) Scheme has been co-designed through extensive engagement with survivors, stakeholders, the market, and other Local Authorities with similar successful schemes.
There are 3 main aims/objectives for SAFER including, but not limited to:
1. Enable people to remain in their own homes, within their local support networks.
2. Improve safety, health, and wellbeing.
3. Prevention of harm
Additional outcomes of the scheme will hopefully also see:
· Reduction in risk.
· Victim/s able to remain within their local support networks (family/friends etc)
· Enable families to remain together.
· Improved access to support for underserved groups
· Reduction in repeat offences.
The countywide SAFER Scheme will be split into three service elements.
Since 2021, the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has awarded the council £12.6m in new Grant funding, to support implementation of these duties until 2025.
The proposed contract start date for the property security service is 1 August 2023 and will be funded in full by the council’s DA Act funding allocation. The proposed contract length is two years with two one-year extension options. Delivery will be by preferred bidders identified following a competitive tendering exercise.
Financial modelling has been undertaken based on extensive market consultation and engagement with other local authorities who have implemented a similar scheme.
The table below outlines the costs to KCC for the initial two years and extension options and can be met within the council’s approved budget.
KCC Domestic Abuse Act funding
Initial two-year contract term
Two, one-year optional extension periods
Total (Initial two-year contract term PLUS Two, one-year optional extension periods)
To ensure a sustainable offer, engagement will commence with all stakeholders to seek ongoing funding for the property security measures and development of an integrated, partnership funded service from year three, if Government grant funding does not continue.
Data Protection Implications:
A full Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) will be developed and amended as necessary for the new service.
Decision type: Key
Reason Key: Expenditure or savings of more than £1m;
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Division affected: (All Division);
Notice of proposed decision first published: 07/03/2023
Decision due: Not before 5th Apr 2023 by Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health
Lead member: Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health
Lead director: Richard Smith
Department: Social Care, Health & Wellbeing
Contact: Simon Mitchell, Senior Commissioner 03000 417156 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The proposed decision was discussed at the Adult Social Care Cabinet Committee on 15 March 2023 and the recommendations were endorsed.
Legal implications: The change in legislation in 2021, means that the council now has statutory duties to provide support to those residing in ‘safe accommodation’. The Kent SAFER Scheme including the property security element will ensure the council meets its new duties under the DA Act. Commissioners will follow the Public Contract Regulations (2015) and Spending the Council’s Money guidance in relation to the procurement undertaken.
Equalities implications: An Equality Impact Assessment has been completed and did not identify any potential adverse effects. This is a live document and will be updated as the new service is procured.