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Plans aim to reshape homeless services in city

16/04/2013

PLANS to change the way homeless services are provided in the city have been put forward by the City Mayor and his Executive team.

The council has been consulting on a range of proposals, which aim to move away from the crisis culture currently in place to a more preventative service.

It has now amended its plans following the consultation, and is proposing the changes are introduced in phases.

The first phase will focus on families and some of the services for single people including training and education, day centres, outreach services and agreeing the over-all homeless strategy. Future phases will concentrate on single people, young people and floating support.

The council had initially proposed to withdraw funding to the Centre Project; a day centre located at the Dawn Centre; the Family Support Service; and the Corner Club at Border House - but this is now being retained following feedback from the consultation.

In addition, after listening to feedback from the consultation, proposals to remove support from all 50 voluntary sector family units have also been revised. The council will now support 10 units from external providers and it will continue to fund its own 50 family units at Border House, as previously proposed.

Other proposals that remain unchanged are for the council to continue to fund the wet day centre for homeless people; retain the rough sleepers outreach team; and continue to provide employment and training opportunities.

Instead of funding support for temporary hostels, the council will be helping people to find more long-term accommodation, including in the private rented sector.

Families in particular have told the council they would prefer to be housed in their own home, rather than a hostel.

The changes mean that planned savings in phase one will reduce by £280,000 from £1.2 million to £938,000.

Assistant City Mayor for Housing, Cllr Andy Connelly, said: "We have looked at the homeless service in great detail, and have listened carefully to the views of those who help to provide it, as well as those who use it. We believe these new proposals better suit the demand for the service.

"We are determined that the service should move away from the crisis culture we currently have in place to a more preventative service - reducing the need for hostel beds and finding longer-term solutions for people.

"Reducing support for hostel beds is not an easy decision, but we've looked carefully at what we already provide and what is actually needed. We believe the support we are proposing for hostel beds will meet demand.”

The council reviews its homeless strategy every five years in order to make sure it meets current needs, and can be provided within the budget the Government has made available.

The current annual budget for homeless services in the city is £6.6m.

The homeless services strategy for 2013 - 2018 was compiled from the findings of a review of homeless services, which took place between March and September 2012. This was done in partnership with a range of voluntary, community and faith sector representatives.

This strategy was then consulted on between 16 November 2012 and 18 February 2013. The feedback from this was considered before the final recommendations for phase one were made.

The proposal will now go to the adult social care and housing scrutiny commission before any final decisions are made.

The second phase recommendations will be announced later in the summer.


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