Vital Homelessness Prevention Services to close
Specialist services for people who are at risk of homelessness are to close - leaving more than 2,500 people in Nottinghamshire without the support they need to remain in their homes.
For the past 13 years Framework has undertaken crisis prevention work in the seven districts and boroughs of Nottinghamshire. In the 12 months to September 2015 it supported 2,625 individuals in Ashfield, Bassetlaw, Broxtowe, Gedling, Mansfield, Newark & Sherwood and Rushcliffe.
This is a classic case of what happens when government is fragmented rather than joined up.
Each faced the prospect of homelessness and/ or an associated life-changing crisis. From April this year it will no longer be possible for Framework to help people in these circumstances, unless they live in the City of Nottingham.
Whilst the effectiveness of Framework’s five specialist Nottinghamshire Homelessness Prevention Services is not in question, Nottinghamshire County Council has decided not to renew their contracts from April 2016.
Citing the pressure on its own budgets, the authority worked with Framework to draw the attention of statutory partners and other stakeholders to the impending closure. Efforts were made to secure partial replacement funding from district & borough councils and NHS commissioners, but it is now clear that these have failed*.
Framework Chief Executive Andrew Redfern said:
“This is a classic case of what happens when government is fragmented rather than joined up. The district and borough councils have a legal duty to help people who find themselves homeless. The Care Act obliges the county council to address their support and care needs and thus avoid the exacerbations that end in a crisis.
Framework Chief Executive Andrew Redfern
"Effective prevention also saves money for the health, police and crime commissioners. We tried to save these crucial services by asking everyone who benefits to make a small contribution. Sadly, they were unable to pool their resources in this way. We just couldn’t make it happen.
“Everyone understands the severe funding challenges faced by local authorities, but that doesn’t help the many vulnerable people who will lose services that they can’t manage without. Over the years our teams have enabled thousands of Nottinghamshire citizens to stay in their home rather than lose it due to ill-health, family problems, historic debt, rogue landlords and some cases outright exploitation.
“Indeed the work of these teams has gone well beyond homelessness prevention. Our staff were always on the front line – eyes and ears in the community who could raise the alarm when a person or family was in difficulty. Their role in safeguarding children at risk was one of many impacts that have not received the recognition they deserve.
“We developed these services over a long time, and the staff now have years of experience. I am troubled at the thought of this knowledge and experience being jettisoned for short-term financial gain – when the long-term consequences and costs are all too predictable.
“Rough sleeping is on the increase across the country but to date we have been able to limit the damage in Nottinghamshire. I fear the upward trend will now accelerate. Homelessness brings many associated costs not only to individuals and families but also to the wider community. I fear what will happen as more people find themselves in crisis scenarios that they can’t deal with on their own.”
Framework will continue to operate its County Council-funded emergency and supported accommodation services, which house people after they have become homeless. These services, which had themselves in jeopardy, will be sustained by funding from the Public Health Budget.
It is expected that the cessation of prevention work will increase the pressure of demand for them. ‘Moving Forward’, a preventative service for people living with diagnosed mental health conditions, will also continue albeit on a reduced scale.
*Framework has been in prolonged negotiations with all seven local authorities plus stakeholders from health, probation and the police since it was informed by Nottinghamshire County Council earlier in 2015 that its latest three year contract would not be renewed. It had hoped to establish a consensus as to the value and necessity of specialist prevention services, and was asking all stakeholders to pool their resources in order to provide a limited service in the future. These negotiations have been unsuccessful.