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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Report: 18th April 2012

 

Joint Report of the Cabinet Member for Social and Care Services and the Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety

Issues affecting young people who are Looked After, Leaving Care or Homeless.

Purpose of the Report

1.             To provide Cabinet with information from the Corporate Parenting Panel about issues affecting young people who are looked after, leaving care or homeless.

Recommendations

1.             That Cabinet notes the content of this report, especially:

·               .the assessment process for young people aged 16 and 17 years who present as homeless and become looked after; and

·               the proposals for enabling Social Services and Housing Services to provide a wider range of support and accommodation options for young people aged 16-18 years, if resources can be made available.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To ensure that Cabinet is aware of the need to make changes in the provision of services to young people who are looked after, leaving care or aged 16 and 17 years and homeless. 

Background

2.             A discussion paper outlining the issues affecting young people who are looked after, leaving care or homeless was presented to Corporate Parenting Panel on 28th February 2012.  This report is attached at Appendix 1.  The Panel requested that the report should be updated and presented to Cabinet for consideration of the issues it outlines.  .

3.             Young people who had housing and support issues, including homelessness, were previously dealt with on a discrete basis by each individual agency with which they came into contact. In recent years, there have been a number of decisions by the Courts concerning the interrelationship between duties under the Children Act 1989 and duties under the Housing Act 1996 as they relate to young people aged 16 or 17 who require accommodation.  These judgements have clarified the legal position that the duty under Section 20 of the 1989 Act takes precedence over the duties under the 1996 Act when providing for children and young people who require accommodation and are assessed as being 'in need'.

4.             Especially relevant is the Southwark Judgement.  In March 2009, a young man (G) was represented to bring a case against Southwark Council to the House of Lords.  In 2007, at the age of 17 years, G was evicted from home by his mother and made homeless. Southwark Council's Children's Services undertook an assessment and deemed that he was not eligible to be looked after under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989.  However, the Law Lords ruled that:

·               G fulfilled all the criteria required to be accommodated under the

·               Council's Section 20 duty to look after children whose parents or carers

·               cannot accommodate them;

·               G was a child 'in need' by virtue of being homeless;

·               G needed accommodation and not just 'help with accommodation', a category which triggers local authorities duties under Section 17 to safeguard children in need;

·               G's parents were 'prevented' from providing suitable accommodation for him, a category which includes cases where children have been evicted from home; and

·               G wanted to be accommodated under Section 20.

 

5.             The clear intention of the legislation is that some young people require ‘more than a roof over their heads’ and local authorities cannot avoid their responsibilities by referring them to Housing Departments only.  The implications are that:

·               many more homeless 16 and 17 year olds will receive social care support from local authorities, and not just accommodation; and

·               a number of 18 to 21 year olds will become entitled to financial and in kind leaving care support as a result.

 

6.             In the Vale, we have seen a considerable increase in the number of young people in this age group accommodated by Social Services as a result of applying case law.  Based on the new national minimum fostering allowance rates, if fostering placements are used to meet this demand, it would cost a minimum of £2000 per week in allowances alone.

7.             In response to the emerging case law and in partnership with the Welsh Government, this Council commissioned specialists in the field of homelessness and social care services to facilitate production of a Young People's Housing and Support Action Plan.  It is aimed at improving the co-ordination of services for young people and the housing and support options available.  The Action Plan was presented to Cabinet in July 2011.

8.             Additionally, in partnership with Llamau (a registered charity working in South Wales to improve the lives of socially excluded, homeless young people), the Council has developed a One Stop Shop for all 16-25 year olds who need help with accommodation issues.  The focus of the service is on early advice and prevention of homelessness. The young person is offered services tailored to their current situation.  This might include:

·               family mediation to facilitate a return home (where safe to do so) or rebuild relationships;

·               assessment by social services; and

·               Learning4Life referrals to help them get back into education or employment.

9.             The multi-agency approach used to assess the needs of young people is outlined in detail in Section 3 of the attached report.  Since June 2011, 42 young people have presented at Llamau via the homelessness process, of whom 11 are currently being looked after. Some of the others were provided with accommodation by Social Services but they have now either left care by choice or receive appropriate support under Leaving Care legislation.

10.        The range of accommodation options available within the Vale of Glamorgan is summarised in the following table.

 

Name of

service

Support

provider

Type of

service

Number of

units

Weekly cost

of support per client

Safe House Ty’r Fro

Llamau

24 hours shared supported housing

6 beds

£414.62 + £235.00 rent

TESS (places limited to those found accommodation by the Council)

Llamau

Floating Support (up to 4 hours per week)

18

£96.49

Ty John Rowley

Llamau

24 hours shared supported housing

6 beds

£414.62 + £234.00 rent

Tom Holmes Project

Llamau

Intensive Floating Support (up to 4 hours per week & out of hours on call)

12

£149.05

Ty Muse

217 Holton Road

 

Gwalia

24 shared supported housing

4 beds

£315.45 + £230.00 rent

Total

 

 

42

 

Relevant Issues and Options

11.        All the outlined above accommodation is occupied currently and this is generally the case. The increasing demand for accommodation for young people presenting as homeless is adversely affecting the accommodation options available for young people leaving care and preparing for independence.

12.        It is clear that the range and levels of supported accommodation need to increase in order to meet statutory obligations.  As set out in Section 14 of Appendix 1, the following options have been identified:

·               Semi-supported shared accommodation for young people preparing to leave care aged 16-18 years (e.g. Supported Lodgings/6 bed unit);

·               24hr high-intensity shared accommodation and support for young people aged 16-18 who cannot live in foster placements and require closer supervision and support than our existing accommodation options provide (e.g. development of a 4 bed unit);

·               Small units of supported accommodation for young people aged 16-18 with offending behaviour or risky behaviour  who cannot live within foster placements and require closer supervision and support than our existing accommodation options provide;

·               Supported accommodation for care leavers who do not meet the criteria for adult social services but will struggle to live independently( e.g. lower threshold adult placement scheme/supported lodgings);

13.        Llamau are working with Children and Young People Services to develop further supported lodgings provision, which would include enhanced payments to providers of additional support and supervision for some of the young people identified above.

14.        Officers in the Housing Division have indicated that they would be able to identify a large family house for use by social services for shared accommodation for young people. However, the property would need careful management, preferably on a 24-hour basis, to ensure that the young people were adhering to the licence agreements and receiving appropriate support and that any tenancy issues were addressed quickly. This provision would require capital and revenue funding. The capital investment required is estimated at £50,000 to develop the property to the required standard and the revenue costs would be £65,000 per year.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if

appropriate)

15.        A business case to support these proposals will be developed and it will be incorporated as a work stream in the Social Services Budget Programme.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

16.        This report relates to the implementation of statutory guidance and Legal Services have been fully involved in consideration of the issues.

Crime and Disorder Implications

17.        The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill contains a number of proposals which will have an impact upon the Council.  These include introducing a single Remand Order for Youths, transferring the costs of court ordered remands to the Local Authority and making more young people eligible for Looked After Children status.  The proposals are outlined in detail in Section 12 of Appendix 1.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

18.        This report concerns young people aged 16 and 17 years.  Access to suitable accommodation and support may not be possible for all young people presenting as homeless or Leaving Care because there is not sufficient provision available.

Corporate/Service Objectives

19.        Services for young people who are looked after, leaving care or homeless help to meet the following corporate objectives:

·               To make the Vale a safe, healthy and enjoyable place in which individuals, children and families can live their lives to the full; and

·               To manage the Council's workforce, money and assets efficiently and effectively in order to maximise its ability to achieve its service aims.

Policy Framework and Budget

20.        This is a matter for Executive approval.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

21.        This report affects the whole of the Vale of Glamorgan.

Relevant Scrutiny Committees

22.        Social Care and Health; Housing and Public Protection.

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer

Colette Limbrick        Operational Manager, Children and Young People Services

Officers Consulted

John Lewis                 Childcare Lawyer, Legal services

Carolyn Michael        Senior Group Accountant, Financial Services

Pam Toms and Lisa Doe     Housing Services

Jenny Smith                           Education

Paula Barnett             Youth Offending Service

Responsible Officers

Philip J Evans, Director of Social Services

 

Peter H Evans, Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services

 

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