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FIRST SUPPORTING PEOPLE PROGRAMME INSPECTIONS: BURY, WIRRAL AND HEREFORDSHIRE

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BURY MBC ...
BURY MBC

The Supporting People service provided by Bury MBC is good and has promising prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

Supporting People is the government's new 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. £1.8bn is being spent on these services in England in this financial year.

The inspection, led by the housing inspectorate in partnership with the Social Services and Home Office Probation Inspectorates, awarded the service two stars out of a possible three. The inspectors praised the good joint working between the partner organisations including the voluntary sector. Positive outcomes for service users are being achieved and an effective process for service reviews is identifying areas for improvement to housing related support services in the borough.

Roy Irwin, chief housing inspector, said: 'Bury is one of the first council's to be inspected for its delivery of the Supporting People programme. We were particularly impressed by the creation of new services for vulnerable people in response to identified needs. The council have achieved a smooth transition to this new funding and planning regime and this is appreciated by service users and providers. The council is beginning to assess services, making sure that they represent value for money and they are measuring the benefits of housing related support for vulnerable people.'

The inspectors' found:

- Arrangements for the commissioning of new services and the ongoing review of existing projects are robust leading to an improvement in the scale and quality of services available to the people of Bury.

- There are sound mechanisms for the involvement of councillors in the delivery of the programme through the creation of a cross-scrutiny panel.

- Providers of services have a positive view of the council's Supporting People team as a result of the help and assistance they have received in implementing Supporting People.

- Consultation with service users is recognised as an essential part of the scheme review process and is being actively pursued.

- Mapping of housing-related support needs in Bury was comprehensive and the council has fulfilled the commitment made in the shadow strategy to research the needs of groups where service provision is not in place or is under-developed.

- The council has been active in developing cross-authority arrangements and this will improve access to services for vulnerable people whose needs cannot be met within the administering local authority area.

To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendations, including:

- Develop a risk appraisal and contingency planning for the Supporting People services in Bury with an emphasis on the potential for service failure.

- The commissioning body should consider how performance indicators and other statisticalinformation provided by all the partners can be used to evidence the impact that the Supporting People programme is having in Bury.

- Take steps to ensure the representative nature of attendees at the core strategy group from service providers, including those from the voluntary sector.

The Supporting People team sits within the social services, health and housing directorate. The Supporting People team comprises a manager and five members of staff. The administration grant awarded to the council is £231,509 for the financial year 2003/04. The final Supporting People grant allocation to the council for the financial year 2003/04 is £7.2m.

WIRRAL MBC

The Supporting People programme managed by Wirral MBC is good and has promising prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

Supporting People is the government's new funding and planning regime for the delivery of housing- related support services to a wide range of vulnerable people. The programme started on April 1st 2003. £1.8bn is being spent on these services in England in this financial year.

The inspection, led by the Housing Inspectorate in partnership with the Social Services and Home Office Probation Inspectorates, awarded the service two stars out of a possible three The council has ensured the Supporting People programme is well managed and has created robust systems for making sure that services are of a good quality, meet the needs of the service users and provide value for money.

Roy Irwin, chief housing inspector, said: 'Wirral is one of the first council's to be inspected for it's delivery of the Supporting People programme. The council has created good partnerships with health and probation service providers to deliver a wide range of housing related support services for vulnerable people. New services are giving opportunities for vulnerable people to live independently with support and so reducing the need for hospital and residential care.'

The inspectors' found:

- The council's approach to implementing the Supporting People programme has been well planned and managed. This is underpinned by a high level of commitment and enthusiasm by staff working in front line services.

- A large number of vulnerable people the inspectors met stated that they were now receiving the help they need to manage their lives and to live independently.

- There is good joint working between the council and provider services that has resulted in innovative practices including user involvement in the management of their services and positive alternatives to residential or hospital care or custody.

- The council has given a lot of support to service providers over a long period of time to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities and are able to comply with the new quality standards required.

To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendation s, including:

- The council must address the areas where there is currently no specialist provision available. This particularly relates to people with alcohol-related needs and developing appropriate services for members of black and minority ethnic communities.

- Users and carers need to be more actively involved in shaping the Supporting People programme and in ensuring that their preferences are considered.

- There needs to be regular reporting of performance relating to each agency's role and activities to ensure ongoing review of strengths and problem areas.

The total amount of Supporting People funding available in 2003/04 is £10,422,285.The council receives £285,154 in Supporting People administration grant from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister as a contribution to the administering costs of its role as the administering local authority.

HEREFORDSHIRE COUNCIL

The Supporting People programme managed by Herefordshire Council is good but has uncertain prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

Supporting People is the government's new funding and planning regime for the delivery of housing related support services to a wide range of vulnerable people. The programme started on April 1st 2003. £1.8bn is being spent on these services in England in this financial year.

The inspection, led by the Housing Inspectorate in partnership with the Social Services and Home Office Probation Inspectorates, awarded the service two stars out of a possible three The council has ensured the Supporting People programme is well managed and has developed services in response to identified needs.

Roy Irwin, chief housing inspector, said: 'Herefordshire is one of the first council's to be inspected for it's delivery of the Supporting People programme. The council is developing a programme to meet the housing support needs of local people in partnership with health service providers. New services have been developed that are giving opportunities for vulnerable people to live independently with support. The council needs to take further actions to make sure that it has arrangements in place to drive the programme forward.'

The inspectors' found:

- A good understanding of the needs of local people and the gaps in service provision that need to be met in order to provide housing related support services to all vulnerable groups.

- An increase in the number of housing related support services provided for vulnerable people.

- The council has achieved wide consultation and engagement with service users including consultation with people who are often hard to reach.

- The council does not have all the systems and procedures in place that will secure continuing improvement.

To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendations, including:

- The council must make sure that the programme can be driven forward by working closely with all its partners and put systems in place that will enable progress to be measured and monitored.

- The council must develop its partnership working with the probation service and learn from other councils where this partnership is reaping benefits for vulnerable people.

- The outcomes from the council's reviews of services must be captured and used to influence further improvements for all housing related support services for vulnerable people.

The total amount of Supporting People funding available to the council in 2003/04 is £7.5m.The council receives £194,062 in Supporting People administration grant from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister as a contribution to the administering costs of its role as the administering local authority.

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