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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Report: 18 November, 2013

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

Providing move-on accommodation for young people who are either looked after by the local authority or leaving care

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To update Cabinet on progress made since the last report in April 2012 on issues affecting young people who are looked after, leaving care or homeless.

2.         To provide Cabinet with information about the development of four units of move-on accommodation at St Mary's Avenue, Barry. 

3.         To seek Cabinet approval to enter into a formal one year agreement with the landlord of the property to pay the rent for the four units, to enable Children and Young People Services to prioritise usage for looked after young people/care leavers and prevent the units being let independently.

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet notes the content of this report.

2.         That Cabinet endorses the proposal to enter into a one-year agreement to pay rent on the four units of accommodation. 

3.         That Cabinet authorises the Head of Legal Services to sign the agreement, in consultation with the Cabinet member for Children's Services and the Director of Social Services.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure that Cabinet is aware of the need to secure a range of suitable accommodation options for young people who are looked after and care leavers.

2.&3. To help provide these young people with access to an additional four units of

          accommodation through making a financial commitment to the landlord to

          pay rent on the properties for one year in the first instance. 

Background

4.         A discussion paper outlining the issues affecting young people who are looked after, leaving care or homeless was endorsed by Cabinet on 18 April 2012.  This report is attached at Appendix 1

5.         The report recommended that proposals should be brought forward 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 could be made available.

6.         One of the proposals was to develop supported accommodation to meet the needs of young people preparing to leave care aged 16-18 years.  This was considered as part of the Social Services Budget Programme.  However, following analysis of the needs of looked after children in the system at that time, it was concluded that such a service would not be viable.

7.         Additionally, the Young People's Housing and Support Action Plan presented to Cabinet in July 2011 (attached at Appendix 2) identified the need for an options appraisal regarding the development of low- cost, medium-support shared accommodation for young people.  Although the scope of this action related more directly to Housing Services, it was felt that a coordinated approach to the issue across both Directorates would be beneficial.

Relevant Issues and Options

8.         The report presented to Cabinet on 18 April 2012 described the range of accommodation options available within the Vale of Glamorgan and noted that it is generally fully occupied.  It was noted also that the increasing demand for accommodation for young people presenting as homeless adversely affected the options available for young people leaving care and preparing for independence. This remains the case. 

9.         The semi-supported accommodation in Ty John Rowley and The Safe House has some occupants who do not require such a high level of support but who could not manage their own tenancies.  By moving on these young people to shared accommodation with floating support, we could release the higher- level supported accommodation to our more vulnerable 16-18 year olds.

10.      The impact of welfare reform means that we must source accommodation for young people which will not require them to pay for additional bedrooms in a property not adequately covered by housing benefit.  Council housing and private sector housing are not able to fully meet this need, requiring us to develop partnerships with landlords who are able to invest in the development of shared accommodation with rents that will be covered by housing benefit. 

11.      The proposed accommodation at St Mary's Avenue provides this type of facility.  The accommodation will comprise four self-contained bedrooms, a shared bathroom, a shared kitchen and a separate room that social care staff or other support staff can use to meet with residents.  The target group of young people for the scheme will be those who possess sufficient independent living skills to care for their own room and prepare food but who are not yet able to adequately manage the demands of their own tenancy. 

12.      Currently, the six beds in The Safe House and the five beds in Ty John Rowley are occupied by young people who will be prioritised for this proposed move-on accommodation, releasing beds for young people requiring a higher level of support such as those aged 16 and 17 years presenting as homeless for whom foster placements are not suitable.  Additionally, young people have access to 5 beds in Ty Iolo.  Young people who are moved on to St Mary's Avenue will have available to them floating support funded by Supporting People, in addition to the support provided by social care staff within Children and Young People Services.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

13.      The target group of young people for this facility are those for whom Children and Young People Services are financially responsible or those who are eligible to claim housing benefit.  Regardless of where they live, their accommodation costs will be paid either by housing benefit or Children and Young People Services.  Often, this would involve more costly privately rented accommodation or supported lodgings, neither of which might be suitable for their needs.  The new provision will not require additional funding and so the cost of rents for St Mary's Avenue will be met from existing resources. 

14.      If this type of accommodation was being let to people presenting to the housing department as homeless or in need of temporary accommodation, the usual cost would be £103.85 per room per week plus £15 per week per room for a contribution to utilities.  For the four units, this amounts to a total of £475.54 per week. 

15.      If a contract is agreed, the landlord will provide the four units of accommodation and the room for social care staff/support staff to use with residents for a total of £440 per week.  This is inclusive of utilities and council tax.  The property will be insured and meet the Environmental Health requirements.  The annual total payable to the landlord amounts to £22,800.  In addition, if eligible, the young people will access floating support paid for by Supporting People.

16.      This compares favourably with the cost of placing young people in Supported Lodgings, the Safe House and Ty John Rowley where the rents payable per week vary between £140 and £235.  In The Safe House and Ty John Rowley, the cost of twenty-four hour or floating support is additional and varies between £96 and £414 per week. 

17.      As the demand for this type of accommodation is far greater than the supply, it is unlikely that the four units of accommodation in St Mary's Avenue will be empty, except for short periods between tenancies.  However, by entering into financial agreement with the landlord, we are undertaking to cover any voids as a result of the accommodation remaining vacant. 

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

18.      Making best use of the accommodation available within the Vale of Glamorgan and having a housing market which is responsive to the needs of vulnerable people help to increase community cohesion.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

19.      The duty of the Local Authority to provide accommodation to children whose parents are not in a position to provide them with accommodation or care is contained in the Children Act 1989. The priority duty for the Local Authority to provide housing for homeless adults is given by Part VII of the Housing Act 1996. The Local Authority has further duties in assisting with accommodation in relation to those young people who have been “looked after†but are no longer “looked after†under the Leaving Care Act 2000. Further there are duties to provide accommodation under the National Assistance Act 1948.

20.      There have been a number of Court Judgements examining the relationship between the duty of Social Services and the duties of housing authorities in respect of young people aged 16 or 17 who require accommodation the outcome of which is that the primary duty for children in need is under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989.

 

21.      Further there is a wide range of guidance which the Local Authority has to consider when considering their duties and powers in relation to accommodation for young people.

Crime and Disorder Implications

22.      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)

23.      This report concerns young people aged 16 and 17 years and those leaving the care of the local authority.  Access to suitable accommodation and support may not be possible for all young people presenting as homeless or Leaving Care unless there is sufficient provision available.

Corporate/Service Objectives

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

·           Improve the availability of appropriate accommodation for vulnerable groups of children and young people, particularly those who are homeless or care leavers.

Policy Framework and Budget

25.      This is a matter for Executive approval.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

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

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

27.      Social Care and Health

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Colette Limbrick       Operational Manager, Children and Young People Services

Officers Consulted

Ann Williams                                    Children and Young People Services

John Lewis                           Childcare Lawyer, Legal Services

Carolyn Michael                   Senior Group Accountant, Financial Services

Pam Toms and Ian Jones  Housing Services

Jenny Smith                         Education

Paula Barnett                       Youth Offending Service

Corporate Management Team

Responsible Officer:

Philip J Evans, Director of Social Services