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NOTTINGHAMSHIRE'S SUPPORTING PEOPLE PROGRAMME IS 'GOOD' AND SHOWS PROMISING SIGNS FOR THE FUTURE

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The administration of the Supporting People programme by Nottinghamshire CC is judged to be 'good' with promising p...
The administration of the Supporting People programme by Nottinghamshire CC is judged to be 'good' with promising prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

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 April 1 2003.£1.8bn is being spent on these services in England in this financial year.

Nottinghamshire CC's Supporting People programme is one of nineteen identified by the ODPM as having high costs for some services.

The Audit Commission's Housing inspection team, in partnership with inspectors from HMIP (Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation) and the CSCI (Commission for Social Care Inspection), gave the service two stars out of a possible three. The programme has provided additional housing related support services for vulnerable people in Nottinghamshire and has been pro-active in addressing areas of the programme where the Supporting People Grant is currently paying for non-eligible services. Nottinghamshire has a very positive relationship with service providers but it has yet to involve hard-to-reach service users and work to assess the support needs of minority groups in the area is currently not well developed.

Roy Irwin, chief housing inspector, said:

'Through positive partnership working between local authorities, health and probation the Supporting People programme administered by Nottinghamshire CC has delivered improved housing related support services for local people, however, there are gaps in the services that need to be filled in order to meet the needs of minority groups, particularly travellers and the Romany community. Work on assessing eligibility for the grant and value for money is being addressed with savings of£900,000 rising to£1.5m identified at the time of our inspection.'

The inspectors found that:

* The review timetable has focused early work on high cost services which also include identified non-housing related support and the review methodology contains very clear procedures on addressing value for money. This approach has given the partnership the structure to address inappropriate grant expenditure;

* The Supporting People programme is already beginning to produce positive outcomes for the vulnerable people of Nottinghamshire that link to the priorities in the shadow strategy and those of commissioning partners;

* There is good understanding and ownership of the programme by all commissioning partners;

* However, the inclusive forum in its current form does not reach all service users, their carers and advocates; and

* The needs of some of the most excluded members of society including travellers were not initially identified and work has only just started to address this.

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

* The council needs to ensure that the user involvement currently being developed is agreed and implemented within a timescale which allows service users to inform and influence the five year strategy; and

* Working alongside other service commissioners, the council needs to introduce monitoring arrangements to ensure that there is transparency and equity in the access to housing related support services across the county.

Nottinghamshire CC receives a Supporting People grant from the government of£27.8m for 2004/05 to meet the cost of its housing related support services. These included 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£645,810 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

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