Agenda Item No 21
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Cabinet Meeting: 30 July, 2018
Report of the Cabinet Member for Housing and Building Services
Supporting People Contracts
Purpose of the Report
- To obtain authority to renew contracts with existing service providers for the continued provision of a monitoring service for the emergency alarm and Telecare services in the Vale of Glamorgan.
- To obtain authority to waive the Council's Contract Standing Orders due to the nature of the services provided.
- To obtain authority to remove the means testing criteria and to fund the emergency alarm and Telecare monitoring services in the Vale of Glamorgan from the Supporting People Programme Grant for all eligible clients.
- That Cabinet agrees to allow the emergency alarm and Telecare monitoring services to remain with the existing service providers, namely the Council's Contact1Vale Team and Wales and West Housing Association, for a further three year period from 1st October 2018.
- That the Council's Contract Standing Orders be waived to allow the specialist contracts detailed in the report to be awarded for a further three year period.
- To agree the removal of the means testing criteria for these services to enable the Supporting People Programme Grant to fund the monitoring costs of emergency alarms and Telecare units for all applicants who meet the funding criteria.
- To agree the introduction of eligibility criteria for applicants to enable them to access funding from the Supporting People Programme Grant to cover the cost of the monitoring service for their emergency alarm or Telecare alarm.
Reasons for the Recommendations
- The current emergency alarm systems are linked to smoke detecting equipment and in some cases a door entry system making it impractical to contract the monitoring element of the alarms only to an alternative provider.
- To allow the specialist service contracts to be awarded directly without being subject to the terms of the Council's Standing Orders for contracts for the reason outlined in 1 above.
- The cost of the administrative process of means testing and arrears collection for over two thousand applicants who use the service would not be cost effective as it would exceed the funding allocation from the Supporting People Programme Grant.
- To ensure that the Council complies with the requirements of the Supporting People Programme Grant (SPPG) Guidance (Wales) July 2017 through funding alarm monitoring services based on need, not tenure.
- 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.
- 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. It also contributes to the Future Generations and Wellbeing Act through its focus on prevention, the Adverse Childhood Experiences agenda and is aligned with the Poverty Action work streams, Families First, Flying Start and the residual programme for Communities First. Its importance is also recognised in the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 implemented in April 2015.
- 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.
- In accordance with the Welsh Government Guidance for Supporting People, the Council is required to undertake a needs assessment for the population of the Vale of Glamorgan to determine what needs are currently the priority. The information is then scrutinised by the Supporting People Local Planning Group (SPLPG) and existing and future provision agreed.
- Membership of the SPLPG is made up of Officers from the Housing Division, Social Services Department, the Wales Probation Service, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and the Voluntary Sector (the Joint Chairs of the Vale Housing and Homelessness Forum and the Regional Providers Forum).
- Following a review of Supporting People Services conducted by Sir Mansel Alyward in 2010 it was recommended that older person's services and alarm services should be based on whether a person needs the support/service and not based on receiving a service because of where a person lives. This requirement was then written into the new grant terms and conditions in 2013.
Relevant Issues and Options
- Following the announcement of the Welsh Government draft budget for 2018/19, local authorities received notification of their indicative Supporting People Programme Grant (SPPG). All local authorities were told their allocations would remain the same as 2017/18. For the Vale of Glamorgan this means the budget remains static at £3,466,829.
- In order to ensure overall compliance with the Council's Contract Standing Orders, the Financial Regulations and other procurement conditions, the Housing Department undertakes a formal tendering process for the provision of most housing related support services.
- However, most of the emergency alarm systems already in place in the Vale of Glamorgan are hard wired and linked to other systems such as smoke detectors and in some cases door entry systems which means that they are unable to be separated. These are vital services for vulnerable clients.
- These contracts are due for renewal from 1st October 2018 and therefore authority is now being sought to again award the contracts to the existing providers for a period of three years.
- The services are as follows:
- The in-house emergency alarm monitoring service provided for council tenants and tenants of Hafod Housing in the Golau Caredig Extra Care Scheme which is provided by the Council's Contact1Vale Service.
- The Wales and West emergency alarm monitoring service provided to elderly tenants of Wales and West and Newydd Housing Association in the Vale of Glamorgan.
- The SPPG terms and conditions for 2018 continue to state that grant monies have to be spent on need and not tenure. Welsh Government previously consented to allow the Council to extend its 'in house' emergency alarm service for council tenants until October 2018 due to the complexity of the issues surrounding hard wired alarms Therefore, in order to move forward and be compliant with the SPPG requirements to ensure the funding is not put at risk, the Council must ensure that the emergency alarms service is available to all people living in the Vale of Glamorgan who are assessed as needing the alarm regardless of age or tenure from that date.
- The new contracts to provide the monitoring service in the Vale of Glamorgan will therefore provide a service for all applicants who meet the eligibility criteria outlined at Appendix 1 irrespective of tenure. By introducing the eligibility criteria, it will evidence that the Supporting People funding used to pay for the monitoring services is provided to clients who need the emergency alarm service because of their vulnerability in accordance with the Supporting People Guidance.
- Given the factors set out above, it would therefore be inappropriate to commence a formal tender process for these services.
- In order to ensure value for money is being obtained, the costs of the new emergency alarm monitoring services have been benchmarked against other similar services across Wales. This has led to a charge of £1.24 per week per client being levied by the Contact1Vale Service from 1st October 2018, which is based on the actual cost to the Council of delivering the service and is comparable with other costs across Wales. The new cost is a reduction of £3.10 per week on the previous weekly cost.
- In respect of the Wales and West Housing Association charges, these currently range from £1.32 to £2.59 per week depending on the area but will decrease to £1.20 per unit from 1st October.
- Based on these figures, whilst there will be an increase in applicants from 1st October 2018 because of the change to funding people in need of the service in all tenures, rather than just social housing from approximately 1516 to approximately 2545 service users, the annual cost of monitoring the emergency alarms will decrease in annual cost from approximately £192,260 to approximately £162,313 from that date even with the means testing criteria removed. This is due to the decrease in the weekly charge levied by each provider from 1st October 2018 which will result in a saving to the Supporting People Programme Grant paid to the Council by Welsh Government which will continue to fund the services of approximately £29,947 per annum.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
- The maximum annual value of the three contracts which are subject to the total number of service users accessing the monitoring service at any one time are as follows:
- Contact1Vale £147,657.38 (3 year value £442,972.14)
- Wales & West Housing Association £8049.60 (3 year value £24,148.80)
- Newydd Housing Association £6,606.08 (3 year value £19,818.24)
- The Welsh Government provides grant funding for these services; therefore this element of the monitoring costs will be met. Work is ongoing elsewhere in the Council to mitigate this reduction in income.
- It should be noted that the Council has not developed an exit strategy for supporting people funded services, as the effect of a total loss of funding from Welsh Government would affect support services throughout Wales, leading to the closure or severe restrictions to the services of voluntary support organisations that are funded in this way. This is an unlikely scenario given that Supporting People was introduced in 2003 and the number of people requiring the services is continuing to increase across Wales.
- To ensure the services are of good quality, provide value for money and remain strategically relevant to the Council, the Supporting People Team are required to carry out robust and regular reviews in accordance with the Supporting People Programme Grant.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
- The principles of sustainability and climate change will be considered as part of every contract for Supporting People services that is put in place by the Council, including employment and environmental considerations.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
- The new contracts will be in a standard form as drafted by the Council's Legal Services that is consistent with Welsh Government requirements for this type of funding.
- The Council's Contract Standing Orders need to be waived to enable the contracts to be awarded for the next three years.
- Should the service delivery in respect of combined monitoring arrangements with other equipment remain the same on the expiry of the new three contracts, further approval will need to be sought from Cabinet at that time to again award the contracts to the same providers.
Crime and Disorder Implications
- The development of good quality housing related 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 developed. The provision of the services to very vulnerable clients will also have a beneficial impact upon reducing crime and disorder in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
- The tendering of services is aimed at improving the quality of life of some of the most socially and economically disadvantaged people who use our services. The tendering ensures a continuing high quality of delivery and value for money for disadvantaged people in the Vale of Glamorgan.
- An Equality Impact Assessment has been carried out which confirms that no client groups are disadvantaged by this proposal.
- This report is consistent with the Corporate Plan 2016-2020;
Wellbeing Outcome 1: An inclusive and safe Vale
Objective 2: providing decent homes and communities.
Policy Framework and Budget
- This report is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
- There has been no individual ward member consultation in respect of this report as it is an issue that affects the whole of the Vale.
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
- Homes and Safe Communities.
(i) Welsh Government Document - Supporting People Programme Grant (SPPG) Guidance (Wales) July 2017.
Kate Hollinshead, Supporting People Coordinator, Environment and Housing
Carolyn Michael, Operational Manager - Accountancy
Suzanne Clifton, Head of Service, Social Services
Committee Reports, Legal Services
Pam Toms, Operational Manager, Public Housing Services
Miles Punter Director of Environment and Housing Services