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 in April 2003 with£1.72bn being spent on the services across England in this financial year.
Paul Clarke, lead housing inspector at the Audit Commission, said: 'Trafford is making good progress in its delivery of the programme and has been particularly effective in involving users; improving services by working with providers following service reviews; and identifying and responding to the housing support needs of black and minority ethnic communities. There are some areas that require further development, particularly completing eligibility and value for money assessments, and updating needs assessments to inform priorities for the development of new services.'
The inspectors found that:
-- The council provides a range of opportunities for service users, carers and advocacy groups to influence the supporting people programme.
-- The service review programme has been completed on schedule and service standards are improving through action planning.
-- Culturally sensitive social care and support services are being developed for black and minority ethnic communities.
-- New services are being developed in accordance with five year strategy priorities.
-- The value for money methodology is robust giving equal regard to cost and quality indicators.
To help the service improve further, inspectors made a number of recommendations. These include:
-- Applying the eligibility criteria to all services and agreeing retraction planning where services are identified as ineligible.
-- Promoting the availability of information in other formats such as large print, Braille and audio tape.
-- Reviewing the five year strategy and updating needs assessments.
-- Ensuring the Commissioning Body sets clear guidelines for receiving updates on the delivery of initiatives it has approved.
-- Agreeing a procurement strategy for the supporting people programme.
Trafford MBC received a supporting people grant of£5,428,894 for 2005/06 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£159,994 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/reports
Press release from Trafford MBC follows.
Two star 'good' rating for Supporting People programme
Trafford Council's Supporting People programme has been rated a two star 'good' service, with 'promising prospects' to improve following a recent Audit Commision inspection. This is excellent news for the£5.4m programme and demonstates the council's commitment to providing the best possible housing related support services for vulnerable local people.
Executive councillor John Lamb said he was delighted for everyone involved as this excellent rating demonstrates the enormous amount of hard work and effort that has been put in by the council and its partners in health, probation and housing, to develop a successful service.
'The Audit Commission recognised that the council is making good progress in delivering the programme. It was particularly encouraging to see our work in involving users and working with service providers, as well as identifying and responding to housing support needs of black and minority ethnic communities being highlighted.
'While we welcome this excellent report - even more relevant as only a third of recent inspections across the country have resulted in councils received 2 stars - we do not intend to rest on our laurels. We are not complacent and as part of our efforts to continually improve, the areas flagged up by inspectors as needing further improvements have already been incorporated into an improvement action plan which the council will be working on in the coming months,' he said.
The specific areas identified as needing improvement included more careful consideration of eligibility criteria to make sure that the money was focussed on providing support to those people in most need. In addition further emphasis should be placed on making sure information on the availability of services is produced in other formats such as large print, Braille and audio tape.