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Agenda item


To inform Scrutiny Committee of the current position in relation to supported housing in Blackpool to determine if the committee would like to explore the issue further.


Ms Kate Aldridge, Head of Commissioning and Corporate Delivery highlighted the key issues in relation to the provision of support housing in Blackpool. She advised that supported housing premises were located across Blackpool and that key concerns related to how they were funded and the levels of support provided to tenants, who were all vulnerable adults.


Members discussed in depth the support that was on offer to tenants and noted that it could be of questionable quality and that the lack of quality support often led to reports of anti-social behaviour and attendances by the Police at premises. There was also an impact on other services including housing options, mental health, ambulance services and the emergency department. It was noted that premises could house between 16-18 units and accommodate vulnerable adults with extreme mental health issues with support only provided Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. Councillor Williams, Cabinet Member for Adult Services and Public Health added that the Council had no control over the location of premises and did not have the ability to inspect the support on offer.


It was reported that some supported housing schemes were good and provided tenants with the support they needed to maintain successful independent living. However, it was considered that the number of poor schemes had increased. The Committee was informed that the Council was doing everything it could to prevent new accommodation being established and to challenge the value and support provided by landlords, however, there was a lack of regulation to give the authority the power to engineer change or tackle providers for not meeting their responsibilities.


Ms Louise Jones, Head of Benefits and Customer Service provided an overview of the process used to consider applications for housing benefit for supported housing and highlighted the low threshold for the receipt of higher rate housing benefit, which was simply to provide more support than an ordinary landlord. In response to questions, Ms Jones confirmed that the full details of the support scheme did not need to be registered and that in some cases a minimal level of care was provided. She added that, whenever possible, the Council undertook to build a good working relationship with landlords.


In response to further questions, Ms Vikki Piper, Housing Options Manager highlighted that the physical property was often developed to a high standard, however the Council had no authority to carry out Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) checks on service providers. It was further noted that the Government had carried out a consultation on the issue of supporting housing in 2017, however, no changes had been made to the process or regulations.


Members were very concerned by the issues raised in the meeting and agreed to established a review panel meeting to consider the issues further. It was noted that the Tourism, Economy and Communities Committee must be involved due to the cross-cutting nature of the issue and that the discussions at the meeting should be forwarded to the ongoing Housing and Homelessness Scrutiny Review Panel in order to avoid any duplication of work.


The Committee agreed to establish a Supported Housing Scrutiny Review Panel.

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