A new way of reviewing supported tenancies for people with additional needs has been agreed by Lancashire County Council’s cabinet.Advertisement
The new policy, which aims to increase the occupancy in supported tenancies, is being introduced following an eight week consultation with tenants, their families, care providers and the public.
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Housing is provided by housing organisations, whilst care and support to tenants is delivered by care providers and commissioned by Lancashire County Council.
People living in these schemes are helped to live good lives in the community with most receiving around the clock support.
When there are one or more long-term vacancies in households, it can cause problems for tenants who may have more support than they need, which impacts on their independence, or they may feel lonely without housemates.
Vacancies represent additional costs for the county council as the need for round the clock support remains, but is shared with fewer people.
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County Councillor Graham Gooch, cabinet member for adult services, said: “Supported housing vacancies are a major problem. There are currently 160 properties with one or more vacancies, out of a total of 700 supported housing schemes. There are around 225 vacancies in total.
“We have a good record of working with providers to fill these as quickly as possible, however some properties have had long running vacancies for years with no realistic prospect of them ever being filled.
“We can’t keep using council funds to pay for properties that aren’t being used when there are so many other services we need to provide.
“The new policy will help to minimise the problem and ensure we make the best use of the accommodation available.”
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A number of changes have been made to the original policy following the consultation. These include:
• Working even more closely with landlords to act earlier to avoid vacancies.
• Informing tenants of their rights more clearly and outlining how they can access advocacy services to help them with any supported housing issues if they need to.
• Working in partnership with housing and care providers more fully in developing new arrangements.
• To consider access to the local community, such as transport links, shops, pubs, libraries and employment opportunities, when considering new developments.
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County Councillor Gooch saidd: “There were some very good points put forward in the consultation.
“We’ve incorporated suggestions into the new policy. We now think it better reflects the needs of tenants, their families and providers.
“This policy is a key part of our plans to improve accommodation for adults with disabilities.”
There are different models of supported living, the most common model in Lancashire is shared houses, where people live together with a shared kitchen, bathroom and lounge.
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County Councillor Gooch said: “Shared houses will remain an important part of how people with additional needs are supported in Lancashire.
“In tandem with the review process, we will be working on new developments offering people the same around-the-clock support in apartment developments.
“This means that people will have their own front door, their home, which they can decorate to their own choosing, where they can have visitors in the privacy of their own apartment.
“These new developments will be in the heart of the community and will ensure people are provided with opportunities to live their life with good support.”
For more information about this decision, visit Lancashire County Council’s website.
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What do you make of the policy changes? Tell us in the comments below.