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Paper 8 - 3 June 2005 Meeting

HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCALGOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION

3 June 2005

SUPPORTING PEOPLE

Report by Alan Hagger, Supporting People Manager for Hampshire County and Districts

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RECOMMENDATION

That the Association writes to the Deputy Prime Minister to draw attention to the need to continue supporting people in an area such as ours where the Supporting People programme has been successfully implemented.

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SUMMARY

1. This report updates HIOW on developments in the Supporting People Programme.

2. Although the programme has already achieved a great deal, the programme locally is now threatened by a government proposal to radically redistribute funding away from Hampshire and other Southern local authorities.

3. Supporting People (SP) funds the housing related support needs of approximately 20,000 service users in Hampshire. 70% of SP users are older people living in sheltered housing, where SP funds the warden service. Other user groups include people with learning disabilities, the homeless, women fleeing domestic violence, offenders, and vulnerable young people.

4. The programme went live in April 2003 after three years’ preparation broadly managed under the aegis of this Association. During those years Transitional Housing Benefit enabled many service providers to develop new services in partnership with local authorities.

5. Hampshire County Council administers the programme through the Social Services Department. The programme is governed by an inter agency County Core Group with representatives from all district councils, the Health Authority and the National Probation Service.

6. Some authorities utilised the opportunity more than others. The end result nationally was that the overall programme grew in size more than was anticipated, and the pattern of SP investment was not consistent with any national indicators of need or demand.

7. Following an "Independent Review" the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) has reduced the national SP pot from £1.8b to £1.7b.

8. In addition the Government is planning to introduce a distribution formula for SP with the intention of ensuring that national SP investment is allocated according to need rather than the location of services. Exemplifications published on the ODPM website reveal that the Hampshire allocation could be significantly reduced after 2007/8.

9.Hampshire’s SP budget has faced year on year reductions since the beginning of the programme in April 2003, and this is set to continue until 2006/7 and possibly beyond. In April 2003 the Hampshire budget stood at £34,000,000 and has now been reduced to £31,500,000.

10. A financial strategy has been put in place which aims to achieve a balanced budget in 2005/6 and 2006/7. With the probable introduction of the distribution formula further reductions are needed to balance the budget in 2007/8 and beyond.

THE FIVE YEAR STRATEGY

11. The Hampshire County Core Group agreed a five year strategy in March 2005.

12. The Strategy includes a process to review all SP services within the next three years. In year one, services for homeless people and those at risk of becoming homeless will be reviewed. Year two will review disabilities services, and year three will review services for older people.

13. Given the nature of the financial circumstances these reviews will have a savings target attached.

14. Strategic Reviews will have to be accepted by District Councils and the County Council before they can be implemented, although the County Council as Administering Authority has to ensure that the programme remains within budget.

THE SUPPORTING PEOPLE DISTRIBUTION FORMULA

15. The ODPM proposals for the distribution formula (SPDF) are to be published in May 2005. The formula has yet to be agreed, but early drafts of it have been used to determine allocations for 2005/6 and 2006/7.Although the overall intention is clear, minor changes to the formula can make a significant difference to the amount that Hampshire receives, and plans are being made with a large degree of uncertainty. Exemplifications on the ODPM website indicate that Hampshire’s budget will reduce from £33.4m in 2004/5 to around £20m, albeit over an unspecified period of time.

16.The impact of the current proposals is a major redistribution of funds from the South of England to the North, particularly the North East. The major cites lose out with funding being redistributed to suburban areas. Rural areas lose out significantly as little weight is given to the additional cost of providing services over a large area.

17.A meeting of County Councils regarding the distribution formula agreed that Counties should do all within their power to challenge the formula and its implementation. In terms of the formula itself, the prevailing view was that it should be challenged but, in reality, all the arguments have already been aired, and bar some "tidying up" it is unlikely that new persuasive arguments are going to appear.

18.County Councils may have more impact with ODPM by demonstrating that the impact of implementation will be severe, particularly on homelessness services.

19. The government has announced transitional arrangements to cushion the worst effects of reductions in 2006/7 and 2007/8. Nevertheless the changes could be severe.

THE COUNTY COUNCIL NETWORK (CCN)

20. Hampshire County Council is working with other County Councils, through the County Council Network (CCN). Overall, Counties lose around £138m under the formula. Southern Unitaries also lose out but it was thought that setting up a group of authorities whose only common factor is that they lose out would be less effective as a medium for combating the successful lobbying of the Core Cities Group (CCG). One example of the commonality of interests is that the CCG is still lobbying for density to be included as an additional needs driver. If this were to happen it would make Counties’ situations far worse but may help southern urban authorities.

21. Under the CCN, County Councils will collate information on the impact of the funding reductions. It is seen as inevitable that reductions and closures are more likely to concentrate on floating support and other short term services, including homelessness and direct access. These are easier to close than long term accommodation based services.

22. The CCN has produced an analysis of the allocations formula produced by ODPM and an analysis of the allocation if the Department of Heath Formula Spending Share were to be applied. This would result in a small increase to Hampshire budget as opposed to a significant decrease.

CONCLUSIONS

23.SP is a positive initiative which provides opportunities for many thousands of vulnerable people to live independently, receiving the support they need, in housing and accommodation of their choosing.

24. The programme in Hampshire is under threat from the overall reduction but even more from the distribution formula. The SP Team intend to work with other affected SP teams to do all that is possible to ensure that the present proposed distribution formula is not implemented.

ALAN HAGGER
Supporting People Manager for Hampshire County and Districts

Date: 18 May 2005
Annex: 0
Contact: Alan Hagger - tel: 01962 847063 Email: alan.hagger@hants.gov.uk

Last update: 20/05/2005
Author: Nick Goulder, Director

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