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East Dorset District Council Policy and Resources Committee 22nd November, 2006 Housing Options Service
Item for Recommendation:

Agenda Item No Public Report

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Contributors: Contact Officer: Financial Implications: Council Priorities: Recommendations:

To seek Members' support to fund a two year Housing Options Service to be operated by Anchor Staying Put in partnership with other authorities and agencies within Dorset. Chief Executive Steve Duckett, Head of Public Health Services £2,525 and £2,520 revenue budget from 2007/08 and 2008/09 respectively.
H&H1

It is RECOMMENDED that a Revenue budget of £2,525 and £2,520 be allocated in 2007/08 and 2008/09 respectively to fund this Council's contribution towards a Housing Options Service to be operated by Anchor Staying Put.

1. Applicable Lead Member Area(s) 1.1 Health and Housing

2. Crime and Disorder – Section 17 Implications 2.1 The proposed Housing Options service will provide housing related services to vulnerable groups, particularly the elderly, and will have a direct impact on reducing both the fear of crime and the incidence of crime within those groups.

3. Introduction 3.1 A person’s desire to maintain independence within their own home is very strong, but there may come a time when an individual no longer finds coping in their own home easy and he or she may, therefore, need to consider the possibility of moving or of exploring other options. Older people particularly may experience the onset of a major health problem, or the death of a partner, that may force them to make a sudden decision about moving house or to examine the suitability of their home in relation to their needs. Moving home is very much more than simply choosing a house and a myriad of conditions must be taken into consideration before a future home can be chosen, or a move made. It may be entirely feasible for the older person to remain in his or her own home however, with some basic adaptations. Research has shown however, that many older people continue to live in accommodation that is ill suited to their current needs because the complexities of addressing the property issue are often too much to cope with. Family or friends may not always be available to support them with this task and the options may appear bewildering or unclear. Making a move to a smaller or adapted property at the right time, or taking steps to ensure that a property meets a person’s needs, may prevent the individual from being ‘forced’ into a situation later - thereby prolonging choice, control and independence for that person over his or her future. Housing options services were set up in response to such situations, to provide impartial advice and information about possible alternative housing options, 18

3.2

3.3

support, advocacy and also practical help. This has enabled people to make informed choices about whether to move home or to stay put. Such a service enables the individual to make an informed decision about what is right for them. 3.4 Nationally, it has been shown that Housing Options services have major benefits for health, social care and housing agencies, reducing emergency admissions, delaying or preventing the need for high level social care services and maximising the best use of available housing stock.

4. Local Housing Options Service 4.1 A pilot project providing a Housing Options service to older and disabled people in Weymouth, Portland and parts of West Dorset has been running since August 2004. The service run by Weymouth’s Anchor Staying Put home improvement agency is available for use by all older people in the area, regardless of their living arrangements. The scheme currently employs one part-time Caseworker who has, over a 23 month period, provided advice, information, support and practical help to 97 Dorset residents in total. The service offers support and assistance tailored to the needs of the client and will address any of the issues that may arise for a person considering or undertaking a house move. On occasion, a single visit may be all that is required, but that single visit can make all the difference. Other clients may need more intensive support and the Caseworker will, where no other support is available, also be on hand to help with the packing of personal belongings, the sale of unwanted furniture, the safe disposal of old household records and making contact with removal firms, Landlords and Estate and Lettings Agents on their behalf. The Weymouth project has supported 24 people to move and has maximised income through Benefit claims for a further 44. Help in other forms was also provided to those who made the informed decision not to move, by referral to other services including Telecare installation and small repairs and home adaptations services. The project has established vital and dynamic relationships with key local organisations and has addressed the issue of reaching isolated and hard to reach people through advertising and presentations and by working closely with frontline health and social care staff. The service has provided excellent value for money, with real benefits for health, housing and social care agencies. A number of local authorities in Dorset and their respective Home Improvement Agency partners are interested in this service being extended across their district areas. A proposal has been put forward by Anchor Staying Put for three part time Housing Options caseworkers, to be employed and located within each of the current three HIAs within Dorset. It is recognised that a number of authorities already have existing housing options workers in relation to their homeless prevention duties. However, it is not envisaged that the proposed housing options role would conflict with or duplicate this responsibility but rather will work to boost this function at a local level across the county. Funding of the service in the short term is being sought from a variety of sources, principally Dorset Partnership for Older People Project (POPP), local charities and District and Borough partners within the Dorset Strategic Housing Group (DSHG). The costs of the proposal are laid out in the table below. The sums being sought from district and borough councils is: £15,149 in year one and £15,123 in year two. If all local authorities within the county participate, this amounts to a

4.2

4.3

4.4

4.5

4.6

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contribution from each district/ borough of £2525 in year one and £2520 in year two. 4.7 4.8 In the long term it is envisaged that this service will become and integral part of the Council’s Home Improvement Agency Service. Table of Proposed Costs and potential funding
Potential funders POPPs funding Charitable sources Housing Authorities Total costs £ year 1 30,298 15,149 15,149 60,596 £ year 2 30,247 15,123 15,123 60,493

4.9

The proposal will provide value for money by: (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) enabling people to live in more suitable environments, reducing the number of accidents at home and consequent reduction in hospital admissions, reducing he number of costly adaptations, ensuring that older people’s income is maximised by promoting the take-up of Benefit entitlement through Benefit audits, releasing large under-occupied properties back into the market, improving older people’s health and well-being by facilitating them living in safer, more secure housing which is better suited to meet their needs.

4.10

Over the proposed two year period, a target has been set of 225 older people who have been enabled to continue to live as independently as possible together with an increase in benefit take up to the value of £150,000.

5. Appendices 5.1 None

6. Background papers 6.1 Published works

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