Still time to make some noise…….

It will be no news to those of you in the housing sector how critical housing related support services are being cut in some areas of the country. It is something we have been covering at Sitra through our work with individual members, commissioners and central government. Whilst it is well known that housing related support, alongside a wide range of public services, has experienced cuts at a local level over recent years – the scale and breadth of recently proposed cuts to services is of great significance. There are a large numbers of authorities who are out to consultation on their budgets and will be voting on decisions this week. Here is snapshot of what is happening out there:

Nottinghamshire County Council – Services in Nottinghamshire have already been significantly cut since 2011, and the latest budget proposal presents an additional 35% cut of the remaining funding. If the budget goes through, the remaining services will only be able to focus on the narrowest set of clients that may include some services for  people with mental health problems, vulnerable younger adults, women escaping domestic violence and short term support for older people to tackle isolation. However to continue to fund these services, they are proposing a cut to all drug and alcohol accommodation services, offender accommodation services, homelessness preventative floating support and move on. Framework provides detailed information about these proposed cuts and a call for support through their Think Again campaign.

Worcestershire County Council – Their current consultation proposes cutting spend on preventative services from over £15m to £6.5m. It includes proposals to cut substance misuse services by 75%, older peoples support services by 50%, over 70% cuts to services for people with learning disabilities and the complete removal of housing related support funding for services for ex offenders.

Derby City Council – Proposing a cut of £2m, having cut by over £2m last year. This will reduce their overall spend on Supporting People by over 70% in a two year period. Details of proposals are outlined here.

Torbay Council – Proposing a cut of £3.2m to housing related support services. Including 100% cut to services which include Integrated families, Criminal Justice Accommodation Services and sheltered housing. In addition there is a proposal to cut 100% of the funding to the Employment Support service for people with disabilities. Information about the Torbay proposals can be found here.

London and the South East – In a recent survey of commissioning priorities across this area carried out by Sitra, we identified further evidence of trends in commissioning where ongoing cuts serve to undermine large swathes of the positive focus on preventative services delivered through the vision of the Supporting People programme, and underpinning the future visions for a preventative focus within communities inherent in the Care Bill. A summary of this research can be found here.

Local members are busy on the ground campaigning against the cuts, whilst some authorities are busy continuing to champion the cause of preventative services.

If you are part of that group making the case – then we hope that a reminder of some of these resources might be helpful:-

Outcomes – Housing related support has a detailed and robust outcomes framework, which measures the outcomes as defined by the individual service user. The outcomes have been collected since 2007 by St Andrews University, and approximately two thirds of local authorities continue to collect this information and submit it to St Andrews. The outcomes have also been mapped across to a range of other public outcomes frameworks – as shown for example in this Sitra factsheet on Older People.

Data – In summer 2013 Sitra gathered together data from a range of authorities across England. This data brings together performance data around cost of services, alongside performance indicators and housing related support data. The data is combined in a tool which enables the benchmarking of authority spend against different client groups, types of provision and outcomes collected by St Andrews. The full set of data can be found here.

Cost Benefit Analysis – although the bulk of this research was carried out in 2009, this continues to be used to provide a robust argument at a local level. This research provides a detailed set of counterfactuals which support the argument for investing in preventative support.

 Case studies and influencing votes – Organisations have many fantastic case studies, and this is an opportunity to ensure that those voting on the decisions at a local level are fully aware of what the services they are considering deliver the individuals and the wider community. Some example case studies can be found here and a useful way to argue the case with councillors can be found here. 

This is a critical decision week for many services around the country.

 It is very important that everyone with an opportunity to add their voice to secure preventative housing related support services does so now.

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