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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 10 March, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety

 

Supporting People Contracts

Purpose of the Report

1.         To obtain authority to renew contracts with existing support providers for the continuing provision of specialist and complex needs housing related support services for selected schemes.

2.         To obtain authority to waive the Council's Contract Standing Orders because of the nature of the services.

Recommendations

1.         THAT the Council awards renewed contracts for a small number of services identified in this report for a three year period.

2.         THAT the Council's Contract Standing Orders be waived to allow the specialist contracts detailed in the report to be put in place.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure the stability of services provided to very vulnerable people in the Vale of Glamorgan.

2.         To comply with the Council's Contract Standing Orders and Financial Regulations.

Background

3.         The Supporting People (SP) programme is the policy and funding framework for delivering housing related support to vulnerable people in different types of accommodation and across all tenures.

4.         The programme contributes to meeting the aims of 'Improving Lives and Communities - Homes in Wales' the National Housing Strategy and the ten year Homelessness Plan, with a strong emphasis on the prevention of homelessness. Its importance is also recognised in the first Housing (Wales) Bill launched by Welsh Government in November 2013, which takes forward the proposals set out in the Housing White Paper (Homes for Wales) published in 2012.

5.         At a local level the programme takes forward a number of strategic aims, reflecting Community Safety and Health and Social Care and Wellbeing objectives. It aims to deliver high quality and strategically planned housing-related support services that are cost effective, complement existing services and provide service users with the best possible outcomes.

6.         In order to ensure overall compliance with the Council's Contract Standing Orders, the Financial Regulations and other procurement requirements, the Housing department undertakes a formal tendering process for the provision of most housing related support services. In addition, a joint tendering exercise takes place in partnership with the Social Services Department for jointly funded services.

7.         However three of these services are of such a specialist nature that it would be inappropriate to follow a formal tendering process because of the adverse effect this would have on the services provided.

8.         These contracts are now due for renewal and therefore authority is being sought to again award the contracts to the existing providers for a period of three years.

9.         The services are as follows:

a.           One external contract between the Council and a single support provider who has one vulnerable service user that they have taken into their own home.

b.           Two external contracts between the Council and Newydd and Wales and West Housing Associations respectively for warden and alarm services provided in sheltered properties owned and run by these housing associations.

10.      In accordance with Welsh Government guidance all of these services are regularly monitored by the Supporting People Team to ensure that they continue to provide value for money and a high quality service. If any project was found to be no longer required or not meeting the aims and objectives set down, it would be decommissioned or reconfigured.

Relevant Issues and Options

11.      In respect of the single service user who has a learning disability and who lives with their support provider, he has been supported in excess of twenty years in the provider's home. Moving out would be very traumatic and could destabilise the service user and impede his progress in achieving his desired outcomes. The contract is specific and personal to the service user and if the support was no longer required or the service user left the accommodation for any reason, the contract would end and no alternative service user would be allocated to the service. The maximum annual contract value is £6,900.92 and the service user is means tested each year to ensure that he still qualifies for financial assistance to pay for the support.

12.      The warden and alarm services provided by Newydd and Wales and West Housing Association tenants are provided by the housing associations as a condition of their respective tenancy agreements in properties in their ownership. It would therefore not be appropriate and indeed complicated to change the service providers. The maximum contract values are £8,234.72 and £31,135.52, however as it is paid on behalf of the individual tenants and is means tested, the total amounts paid in 2012/13 under these contracts were £6,280.52 and £26,645.51respectively. These costs are comparable with similar services provided to other social housing tenants in the Vale of Glamorgan.

13.      Given the factors set out above, it would be inappropriate to commence any sort of formal tender process for these services. However, all of these services have been, and will continue to be, monitored and extensively reviewed by the Supporting People Team. They are considered to be vital services for vulnerable clients. The service providers/landlords have built up a close relationship with the service users and to change these could impede a service user's progress in achieving the desired outcomes of independence, maintaining their home and integrating successfully into the community. In the case of the one to one support provision, to significantly change the arrangement could lead to the service user becoming destabilised and needing to seek crisis intervention from the statutory services of Health and Social Services. It is therefore in everyone's best interest to maintain the current arrangements.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

14.      The Welsh Government provides grant funding for all of these services; therefore there are no direct financial implications for the Council.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

15.      None.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

16.      The renewed contracts will be in a standard form as drafted by Legal Services that is consistent with Welsh Government requirements for this type of funding.

17.      The Council's Contract Standing Orders need to be waived to enable the contracts to be awarded.

18.      Housing support services will generally be subject to EU procurement regulations. However, where contracts relate to 'health and social services', they are classified as 'Part B' contracts which are subject to a less stringent set of procurement rules. The contracts in question are also unlikely to exceed EU procurement thresholds over a three year period. In addition to this, in some instances it is also acceptable to contract with a limited range of providers or indeed a single provider where the service provision is specialist in nature. The contracts referred to in this report meet all of this criteria.

Crime and Disorder Implications

19.      The continuation of good quality support services will protect and support very vulnerable clients who are likely to be more susceptible to experience crime and disorder difficulties if these projects were not in place.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

20.      The continuation of these projects will do much to improve the quality of life of some of the most socially and economically disadvantaged people in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Corporate/Service Objectives

21.      This report is consistent with the Corporate Objective of the Council:

To work with partners to meet the diverse needs of our residents in ways that will safeguard and support those who are the most vulnerable and in greatest need; help people to keep fit and healthy; and increase social cohesion and equality of opportunity for all.

Policy Framework and Budget

22.      This report is consistent with the Policy Framework and Budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

23.      These services are situated throughout the Vale of Glamorgan; therefore no individual ward member consultation has been undertaken.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

24.      Housing and Public Protection.

Background Papers

(i)         Welsh Government Document - Supporting People Programme Grant (SPPG) Guidance (Wales) July 2012 (updated June 2013).

 

Contact Officer

Pam Toms, Strategy & Supporting People Manager, Housing Services (01446) 709788

 

Officers Consulted

Head of Financial Services

Senior Lawyer, Legal Services

Group Auditor, Resource Management

 

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing