Supporting people is the government's funding and planning regime for the delivery of housing related support services to a wide range of vulnerable people. The programme started on 1 April 2003.
The inspection team found that the council and its partners are providing services of a generally good quality and achieving positive results for service users. In addition, cost savings and enhanced quality are being achieved from a well developed service review programme. But these strengths are outweighed by a number of weaknesses including limited access to services and inconsistent provision of information. Service planning does not address known diversity issues and accountability needs improving.
Patrick Mooney, Audit Commission lead housing inspector, said: 'Buckinghamshire County Council got off to a good start in setting up the supporting people programme in the county. While, in the last 18 months, there has been a strong and positive focus on some areas of work, others have been neglected. As a result, the council still has some important gaps in both its knowledge of local needs and in the delivery of some services to vulnerable people locally. The council has taken on board our comments and is changing its improvement plans to address the identified weaknesses.'
The inspectors found:
To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendations, including the following. The council should:
Buckinghamshire CC received a supporting people grant from the government of£5.8m in 2004/05 to meet the cost of its housing related support services. These include supported housing for older people, homeless people and people with mental health problems, people with learning difficulties and services which help vulnerable people living in their own homes. In addition, the council received£331,994 to pay for the costs of administering the supporting people programme.
Copies of the report are available from Buckinghamshire CC or on the Audit Commission website at www.audit-commission.gov.uk .
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Audit Commission is an independent watchdog responsible for ensuring that public money is spent economically, efficiently and effectively. Our remit covers more than 12,000 bodies in England, which between them spend over£100 billion of public money each year.
We are active in local government, health, housing, criminal justice and fire and rescue services and consequently have objective evidence on the overall impact of public services on users.
In addition to making sure that taxpayers receive value for money, our aim is to provide impartial information on the quality of public services. We also act as a force for improvement by providing practical recommendations and spreading best practice.
We are committed to working in partnership with other regulators and to ensuring that our own activities also represent value for the taxpayer.
Further details about the Commission can be obtained from its website www.audit-commission.gov.uk
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