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					REPORT TO Cabinet Members’ Briefing for Adults and Health TO BE HELD ON 19 June 2007

REPORT TO BE CONSIDERED UNDER DELEGATED POWERS REGULATIONS

REPORT OF: Service Director, Safeguarding and Family Support WARDS AFFECTED: All SUBJECT 1. 1.1 The First Rung Scheme

PURPOSE OF REPORT To seek DMT approval for the commissioning arrangements for the First Rung Scheme to ensure the service is operational without delay in order to maximise funding and activity to contribute to the achievement of the relevant LAA stretch targets. INFORMATION The First Rung scheme is part of the Local Area Agreement (LAA) Homelessness Delivery Plan. First Rung will provide incentives to private landlords to encourage them to give tenancies to younger people aged 16-24. The scheme will also provide housing related support to young people in the scheme. The Homelessness Delivery Plan is associated with stretch targets around reducing homelessness acceptances and reducing the use of temporary accommodation. The First Rung project will contribute directly to the achievement of these targets. Between April 2006 and March 2007, 653 young people aged 16-24 approached the Council asking for help because they were homeless, about to become homeless, or living in very insecure accommodation. This is an increase of 17% on the previous year. There is an acute and increasing shortage of affordable accommodation that can be accessed by young people. The First Rung Scheme provides funding of £57k to establish a ‘bond bank’ for the Project. This amount is held by the Council against any rent arrears or damage by tenants in the scheme up to an agreed amount. The scheme also provides funding to provide support to young tenants to help them to manage a tenancy and develop life skills such as budgeting.

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2.1.5

The main barrier to the launch of the scheme is that the Project has not proved immediately attractive to private landlords who are reluctant to provide tenancies to young people on welfare benefits. Two successful consultation events have been held with landlords to establish what incentives would attract landlords to the scheme. These events have been well received by landlords and as a result of the comments received, some changes are proposed to the Project. It is clear that landlords are more interested in support for tenants and management services rather than financial incentives such as a Finders Fee (an upfront payment to landlords). A management service was not part of the original range of services on offer. A number of Landlords have expressed interest in taking part in the scheme if a housing management service is provided. In order to provide the Management Service it is proposed that the Council’s Open Door Project will retain £7,500 of the funding in 2007/8 in order to provide 10 hours of housing management support to the scheme each week. Housing management staff in the Open Door Project will provide the service within existing resources. This will leave £72,613 in 2007/8 to commission a service from a voluntary sector partner who will administer the bond scheme and provide a support service to the young tenants. This amount will be sufficient to provide a good quality housing related support service to the tenants. The remodelling of the scheme following the consultation with landlords has inevitably delayed the start of the scheme. Local knowledge of the relevant providers indicates that the Wakefield Rent Deposit Scheme are the only local provider currently delivering all of the following services which are in line with the schemes proposals i.e. they:  Administer an established bond scheme in the Wakefield District  Are experienced in providing support for single homeless people  Are working with private landlords  Are able to start the scheme without delay. The 2010 Temporary Accommodation Action Plan, agreed by Cabinet in January 2006, includes an action to invest more resources into the Wakefield Rent Deposit Scheme. In view of the current experience of the Wakefield Rent Deposit Scheme, Cabinet’s recommendation to invest more resources into the rent deposit scheme and in order:  Not to incur further delays in the proposed scheme  Not to jeopardise the LAA stretch targets  To maximise available funding  To support as many young people as possible through the scheme

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It is proposed to commission the First Rung scheme from the Wakefield Rent Deposit Scheme. 2.1.10 The Council’s contract procedure rules do not require a competitive tender process to be undertaken where there is not sufficient time to undertake such a process The contract is proposed to be for one year and is below the £75,000 threshold over which a competitive tendering process is required. Any subsequent extension to the contract would be based on the availability of future funding (not guaranteed and is subject to the future agreement of the LAA Board.) and the performance of the contractor. 3. 3.1 RESOURCE IMPLICATIONS Finance The LAA funding already agreed is sufficient to cover the full cost of the scheme and there are no further financial implications for the Council. 3.2 Asset Management The private landlords will own the properties used for the scheme and the landlord tenant relationship will be between the private landlord and the young tenant. There are therefore no asset management risks to the Council 3.3 Risk Assessment There are reputational risks for the Council because of the lack of accommodation and support options for homeless young people in the District. Young people are exposed to risks by not being provided with sufficient and age appropriate services. 4. 4.1 RECOMMENDATION To agree under delegated powers that the First Rung Scheme can be commissioned from the Rent Deposit Scheme as set out in the report.

Contact Officer: Margaret Baldwin, Service Manager – Housing Needs and Access

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