Pooled Budget Arrangements for the Commissioning of Adult Homeless Supported Accommodation in Oxfordshire
Decision Maker: City Executive Board (became Cabinet on 13 May 2019)
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
Oxfordshire County Council is due to implement cuts to Housing Related Support from 1st April 2017. The decision of the multi-agency Health Improvement Board (HIB) workshop was reported to the HIB on 7 July. This report seeks approval to enter into a pooled budget arrangement with Oxfordshire County Council, District Councils within Oxfordshire and the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group in order to commission adult homeless supported accommodation for 3 years starting 1st April 2017.
The Head of Housing and Property submitted a report which sought agreement to enter into a pooled budget arrangement with Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Oxfordshire District Councils; and to agree Oxford City Council’s initial 3 year contribution to the pooled budget from existing base budget provision.
Cllr Rowley, Board Member for Housing presented the report. He explained it was the outcome of long negotiations and thanked officers and the Board Member for Finance, Asset Management and Public Health for the work done.
The pooled fund will pay for vital homeless support services in Oxfordshire. He said the proposal was a success in some respects as it meant that all surrounding councils will contribute towards providing homeless services roughly in proportion to the homelessness need of their areas.
However it’s not overall good news for city homeless services as their will be less money available from the County Council. In three years, time the County will be cutting funding completely for Housing related support.
This agreement provides stability for services to continue and brings in money we wouldn’t have got from clinical service providers. With less money available for homelessness, services must be co-ordinated if they are to have a future. This is a large amount of work to do with homelessness providers to co-ordinate services.
Cllr Turner explained that he had been involved in the negotiations as the Chair of the Health and Wellbeing partnership which has been the mechanism for agreeing the work. He thanked officers and explained that rough sleeping in Oxfordshire was increasing whilst funding was being cut. The Government has just announced they were planning to further cut housing benefit which will put more pressure on the homelessness budget.
The Council needs to review how our money is being spent. The quality of services is important and needs to be properly resources. There’s no point in providing housing without adequate support.
Officers explained that the first year is better resourced as it provides transitional money. However there was concern that the pooled budget wouldn’t meet the single homelessness need in the city.
Cllr Price asked if the City Council could fund additional accommodation independently?
Cllr Rowley said that would mean taking money from the homelessness budget which is ear-marked for preventative measures. Taking money from homelessness prevention to pay for reduction measures doesn’t make sense.
Cllr Rowley said that a report on allocations is expected to come to the Board before April 2017.
The Housing Strategy & Needs Manager said the decision today was important to inform the County of what our intentions are, before the budget process begins.
Cllr Brown asked what the Council was doing in terms of lobbying against the housing benefit cuts. Is the Council doing everything it could so that our MPs knew what will happen with the proposed housing cuts.
The Assistant Chief Executive said the City’s MPs had been informed of the increased homelessness need but more work will be done.
The City Executive Board resolves to:
1. Agree the commitment by Oxford City Council to enter into a pooled budget arrangement in order to fund adult homeless supported accommodation in Oxfordshire.
2. Agree Oxford City Council’s annual contribution of £161,700 towards the pooled budget from Housing and Property’s existing Homelessness Prevention funds base budget provision that is included in the current approved Medium Term Financial Plan
3. Delegate to the Head of Housing and Property Services, in consultation with the Board Members for Housing; and Finance, Asset Management and Public Health, the discretion to increase/reduce the Council’s contribution in years 4 (2020/21) and 5 (2021/22) from within existing approved homelessness prevention funds budgetary provision, if it is agreed by all parties to extend the current 3 year proposal.
4. Delegate authority to the Executive Director of Regeneration and Housing to enter into a governance agreement for the pooled budget before April 2017
Report author: Ossi Mosley
Publication date: 19/09/2016
Date of decision: 15/09/2016
Decided at meeting: 15/09/2016 - City Executive Board (became Cabinet on 13 May 2019)
Effective from: 22/09/2016