Supporting people is the government's funding and planning regime for the local delivery of housing related support services to a wide range of vulnerable people. The programme started on 1 April 2003 with approximately£1.7bn being spent on the services across England in this financial year.
Suki Jandu, Audit Commission lead housing inspector for Yorkshire and Humberside, said:
'The council has created a range of new and enhanced services for vulnerable groups of people and has plans to do more. Some savings have been made from services previously provided and redirected into higher priority areas. However, the council needs to speed up work to review existing services to raise their quality, ensure they continue to be needed and offer good value for money.'
The inspectors found that:
. Housing related support services are helping to promote independent living for those who need them.
. Some services are well co-ordinated with others to deliver a package of complementary support, for example for young people.
. There is a close and positive working partnership with service providers.
. The service is very late in starting its programme to review the quality, value for money and usefulness of existing services.
. There have not been enough staff and resources to deliver everything that the programme requires.
. Informal methods have been used to secure savings and extend contracts rather than more rigorous methods.
To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendations, including:
. As a top priority, review the services currently provided.
. Tackle blockages that are preventing vulnerable people moving on to more suitable accommodation when they are ready.
. Make sure the needs of all the vulnerable groups are known and improve the ease with which they can access services.
Kingston upon Hull City Council received a supporting people grant of£11,718,391 for 2004/05 to meet the cost of its housing related support services. These include supported housing for older people, teenage parents and women fleeing domestic violence. In addition the council receives£234,000 to pay for the costs of administering the supporting people programme.
Copies of the report are available on the Audit Commission website at www.audit-commission.gov.uk