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Joining up the commissioning of accommodation and support for young people aged 16 - 25. Version 2 December 2010. Welcome. This resource is designed to help local authorities and their partners to take forward a joint commissioning approach to accommodation and support for young
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Version 2 December 2010
This resource is designed to help local
authorities and their partners to take forward a
joint commissioning approach to
accommodation and support for young
people in their area, and to provide ideas and
information to support the process.
It will be of particular interest to commissioners
and strategic managers with responsibility for:
Looked after and leaving care services
Supporting People or housing related support
Strategichousing, social landlord and homelessness/housing options services
Youth offending, health and other services working with vulnerable young people
Tackling child poverty
20% saving whilst meeting young peoples’ needs better
For a full case study see www.commissioningsupport.org.uk and search for ‘Oxfordshire’
Version 2 November 2010
Common problems reported by local
authorities, young people and partners:
pressure points often not addressed, e.g.
emergencies, high risk, move-on
16 & 17
We know from practice and research that young people do best with:
16 & 17
Efficiencies coupled with better experiences and outcomes for young people by bridging the gap between children’s services and (adult) housing and housing support services
Better links with wraparound services by designing them into the system
Pooled commissioning and procurement expertise including approaches to quality and standards
Advantages of increased scale, for example reducing procurement costs, aligning services, increasing influence on markets.
Commissioning is ‘the process for deciding how to use the total
Resource available … in order to improve outcomes in the most
efficient, effective, equitable and sustainable way’.
Partners will need to agree a commissioning strategy focused on
delivering agreed outcomes for young
contributing tolocal strategic objectives
enabling partners to meet their statutory
within known and/or anticipated
If you decide to adopt a joint commissioning approach to young people’s accommodation
and support needs, all partners will be signing up to considerable change.
Children’s services, Housing, Supporting People and potentially Youth Offending
Services, PCTs and other services working with young people; providers in the voluntary
and private sectors; social landlords and young people and their families will be involved
Its critical that the right people are involved from the outset, so that any decision to go
ahead has been informed by young people, families and other key stakeholders and has
the support and understanding of those who will make its implementation possible.
Top level backing and explicit links to key local strategies and plans will be
needed to get the process moving and help unblock any barriers to change
further down the line.
You will need to understand what is currently being spent and which bits should be considered for the joint commissioning pot. Options include:
Placement and leaving care budgets– protect stability for young people in settled placements, but consider money you would expect to spend on first or new looked after and leaving care placements for young people aged 16 plus.
‘Section 17 budgets’ – e.g. is money being used to pay for emergency accommodation (e.g. B&B) for 16 and 17 year olds who were not looked after? If so can you put it in the pot and develop suitable alternative provision in partnership?
Housing and housing related support
Supporting people revenue funding – in 2008/09 there were almost 20,000 admissions of 16 and 17 year olds into SP funded accommodation in England. [NB in some areas some of these young people will have been looked after children and care leavers aged 16 and 17, often funded through internal charging of children’s services by SP]
Temporary accommodation secured by housing authorities / departments under the homelessness legislation. [Note that, depending on the type of accommodation used, significant proportions of this is recouped from DWP under HB subsidy rules so LA expenditure should be fairly low]
Tenancy sustainment services provided by some housing authorities and social landlords, funded in a range of ways.
Rent and service charges– will form a significant element of the revenue flow for accommodation and support services. Housing Benefitis likely to be covering most of this, with young people making a contribution from their personal income for services which aren’t eligible for HB and, if they are earning enough, the rent.
The local (children’s services) authority will need to fund any rent and service charges for looked after children and care leavers aged 16 and 17 (eligible and relevant children).The whole revenue package (rent, service charges and support costs) will therefore need to be considered during planning and procurement –beware comparing support costs alone with all-inclusive placement costs for eligible and relevant children.
In addition, other departments and agencies working with young people sometimes fund accommodation or support e.g.:
Some YOTs retain a budget to make sure they can access short term accommodation, for example to prevent young people from being remanded into custody for want of an address, and / or contribute funding to supported accommodation services.
PCTs fund residential placements for young people with mental health problems. There are examples of PCTs contributing to high support accommodation services to obtain local, high quality and good value options for some of their clients.
It may also make sense for others such as learning disability, drug and alcohol services to contribute in kind or cash to the cost of support in (generally high support) accommodation given the potential impact on the outcomes they achieve with young people and corresponding savings.
In order to guide the process of analysing the various flows of funding and the
provision they buy, you may find it helpful to first identify some key questions
to help you determine how well current services are offering value for money.
For example, to what extent does each service:
Contribute to relevant strategic priorities?
Enable the LA(s) to fulfil statutory functions? (including consideration of the duty to provide sufficient accommodation for looked after children in your area due to come into force in April 2011)
Meet identified housing, care and support needs of young people in the area, targeting those who need them most?
Deliver high quality services which demonstrate positive outcomes with young people?
Offer sufficient flexibility to be able to be tailored to meet the needs of individual young people - personalisation?
Satisfy service users and stakeholders?
Offer competitive prices?
Procurement method, e.g. spot purchase, framework agreement, block contract
Annual expenditure (for some funding sources analysis may be required to separate out accommodation expenditure, for example if Children’s services ‘section 17’ budgets have been used to provide emergency accommodation, or the YOT occasionally funds emergency B&B accommodation).
Any planned or anticipated reductions in funding likely to affect the provision.
The nature, quantity and type of provision purchased and a broad assessment of its suitability (e.g. Independent Fostering Agency, private placement in PRS with support, floating support, supported lodgings, young people’s supported accommodation, Foyer, emergency/assessment accommodation, B&B, all ages hostels/supported accommodation).
The unit cost of each ‘placement’ (using the same units for each type of provision, perhaps ‘per person per week’ and/or per hour of support).
Which young people are ‘eligible’ to access the provision including its use to discharge statutory functions under Children’s and Homelessness legislation.
How young people access the provision (in what circumstances, referral routes, speed/flexibility of access).
Geographical locations and degree of flexibility in this.
The levels of support available to young people in each type of provision (perhaps categorised as high, medium, low). Tip – agree shared definitions for support levels (quantative, e.g. hourly rates and qualitative) as perceptions may differ between commissioning partners and between commissioners and providers.
Outcomes achieved with young people – for example from Supporting People outcomes monitoring and children's services management information where available, plus softer information from stakeholders.
The balance between need/demand and supply
Working with a range of agencies and services, collect examples of ‘customer journeys’ from a cross section of young people who have used housing and support services and experience a range of circumstances – for example young people who are:
Looked after, care leavers, and neither
Unaccompanied asylum seeking young people
Aged under and over 18
A mix of genders
With and without partners
In urban and rural areas as appropriate to your locality
In learning, work and neither
Involved in the youth justice system including having been released from custody in need of housing and support
Needing a range of levels and types of support including re mental health, learning disabilities, use of alcohol and drugs.
From BME groups, different cultural and religious backgrounds, and LGBT
Recovering from trauma such as experience of domestic violence
This information should be gathered directly from young people rather than, for example, as case studies provided by agencies who work with them.
Analyse these with young people, family members and workers to identify critical points - problems and strengths - in the system (or series of parallel and overlapping systems), for example:
Access to and timing of quality advice on accommodation and support options and help to prevent homelessness
Access routes and eligibility criteria for services - which options are open to which groups of young people? What factors determine these and do they correspond with needs?
Drivers for planned moves – led by young peoples’ needs or pressures on particular budgets?
Triggers for unplanned moves – placement and tenancy breakdowns and evictions
Consequences for young people of unplanned moves – e.g. exclusions from other services
Securing settled, independent accommodation – are young people ready to manage independently and how well do they cope? Are their move-on options maximised?
Analyse the relative costs and outcomes associated with the different accommodation and support pathways accessible to different groups, including when things go wrong. Where is the best value in current arrangements?
Use the qualitative insights developed during the journey mapping to underpin your needs analysis and help quantify needs and gaps, and test your analysis with young people and stakeholders.
Available data will depend on your local monitoring systems. Find
out what you can about (not an exhaustive list):
The looked after population and projected numbers of young people expected to leave care over the period of your strategy, including any peaks and troughs.
Numbers of young people coming into the system aged 16 and 17, including in particular homeless 16 and 17 year olds and unaccompanied asylum seeking young people. Depending on how things work in your area the ‘gateways’ for 16 and 17 year olds into publicly funded accommodation could include:
The housing options service(s)
Supported accommodation services (through self referral or direct referral by other agencies working with young people) Note that extensive Supporting People data is likely to be available.
A purpose designed gateway, e.g. a multi-agency panel
Housing and support needs linked to particular circumstances, for example young people in education, young people in work, YOT clients (including on release from custody), young parents and/or young couples, young people with mental health problems, learning disabilities, substance misuse
Numbers of young people aged 18 plus (18-21 or 25 for example) with support needs seeking help with housing.
Numbers, characteristics and referral routes of young people entering supporting people services.
Numbers, circumstances and placing agencies of young people entering B&B or other unsuitable accommodation, and data on length of stay.
Evictions and placement breakdowns with reasons – what do they say about unmet needs?
Move-on issues; is part of any shortage in supply to do with barriers to young people moving on when they are ready for more independence?
Make sure you know how this is working in your area. How many young people seeking help because of homelessness are supported to remain in the family home or their wider family network rather than entering services? Does this vary with different access routes into services? If so, what makes the difference, and what scope is there for improvement?
Some factors to consider:
Embedding a creative and tenacious family focus at all first points of contact,
Making sure prevention work always takes place alongside assessment
Opening up family support and family group conferencing services to this client group.
Continuing work to reconcile families beyond decisions to accommodate
Investing to make reconciliations sustainable
Prevention, not gate keeping; systems need to be in place to ensure the interests of children are safeguarded in the face of resource constraints.
By this stage you will have a clear picture of:
The nature and cost of services currently provided
The resources potentially available to invest / re-align into a more integrated approach
The quality of young peoples’ experience of these service offers, and strengths and weaknesses of individual services and the ‘system(s)’ overall
The needs of young people
Given the likely tension between needs and available resources, partners will need to agree whether there are particular groups of young people who’s needs will be given greater priority within your new service offer. Any such priorities should be clearly set out in your commissioning strategy.
Mechanisms will need to be put in place to ensure these priorities are followed through in the establishment and management of your pathways (see section 6)
The aim of an accommodation pathway is to enable young people to move through services in a structured way. It should enable them to move from more intensively supported accommodation to more independent accommodation as they develop life skills and confidence - and as they make life choices that affect their accommodation and support needs and preferences.
Effective pathways commonly include four basic components:
Assessment services – short stay with emergency access so that B&B is not used. Not all young people need to use assessment services, for example young people leaving care in a planned way.
Progression services (where young people can develop the skills they need to live independently, including support with education, training and employment )
Specialist services (which can cater for young people with high support needs and challenging behaviour)
Move on options with resettlement and floating support services (these can be in the private rented sector or social housing and may include flat shares).
There are a wide range of options for providing each component, and choice and flexibility can be built in at each stage.
All services should able to be tailored to the needs of individual young people, and work together to meet needs and increase flexibility.
Whilst the overall direction of travel for young people will be towards increasing independence, it is important that individual young people can move to obtain more intensive or different support if they need it.
Including on some flexible resource able to deliver intensive help where a placement anywhere in the pathway is at risk can be very cost effective, reducing the need for permanently ‘high support/tolerance’ services/placements and preventing placement breakdowns.
Managed pro-actively, pathways can dramatically reduce both the incidence and impact of placement/tenancy breakdowns.
Here are some variables to consider in consultation with young people, their families,
providers and other key stakeholders in establishing a range of provision to meet the
needs you have identified at each stage in the pathway:
Support levels – including high support for the most vulnerable and challenging (incorporating wrap-around support from specialist agencies where needed)
Length of stay and degree of flexibility
Shared with other young people – Foyers and supported accommodation schemes
Size of accommodation based services such as Foyers and supported accommodation
Shared with a household – fostering, supported lodgings, Nightstop
Self contained – private renting and social renting, floating or attached support
Locationsand proximity to key services and support networks
Affordability and incentives for employment
Facilities and support for study
Diversity – for example are there any groups of young people requiring access to dedicated services because of, for example, factors linked to culture, gender or sexuality?
As a minimum it should be suitable and prevent the use of B&B and other unsuitable
accommodation. But it should also be a key prevention tool,not simply a holding
position between placement breakdowns or a gateway to living away from home.
In practice: Time Out Lambeth - for 16 and 17 year olds at risk of
Young people referred by Family Services
if initial prevention work not successful
8-12 week stay
Specialist mediation staff
61% of young people returned home during
the 1st year of operation
See the pathway as a whole system rather than a collection of individual services.
Put in place streamlined multi-agency arrangements to manage and monitor:
Entry, move through and exit from the pathway, linked to assessment and pathway/support planning to ensure the best fit between each young person’s needs and the services they access – don't let it turn into a sausage machine!
Pro-active action to prevent placement breakdowns, addressing challenging behaviour and/or lack of engagement of young people by moves within the pathway rather than eviction from services.
Move-on options and support to prevent silting up of services
Outcomes for young people against agreed objectives for both individual services and the pathway as a whole.
One option is the establishment of a multi-agency placement panel, reported to be effective by a number of LAs. Panels demand significant officer time (often weekly or fortnightly meetings) but the time is deployed in a planned way to provide a preventative and pro-active service. This can save considerable unplanned (und generally unmeasured) time and service disruption spent in response to crises across a wide range of services.
Services will need the flexibility to make emergency accommodation placements between meetings, reporting retrospectively to the panel.
Another option is the establishment of a post or team responsible for co-ordinating placements and moves within the pathways, reporting to a multi-agency group made up of commissioners and any other key stakeholders. They could have recourse to multi-agency meetings for young people with more complex needs.
It may make sense to retain a specific placement function from some young people / types of provision - for example a children’s services placement team responsible for placing looked after young people in regulated provision where this is the required option, as they will know and manage the market for all looked after children and young people. This team could work closely with a wider placement panel or team responsible for placements in unregulated supported provision, both:
referring looked after children and care leavers into the pathway
responding if a looked after young person is struggling to cope in supported accommodation and some form of regulated placement is identified as the most appropriate alternative.
Statutory Guidance; Care Planning, Placement and Review, Transition to Adulthood and
Oxfordshire and Camden case studies: www.commissioningsupport.org.uk/ (search for
‘Oxfordshire’ and ‘Camden’)
Guidance to local areas in England on pooling and aligning budgets (CLG 2010)
Total Place: a whole area approach to public services (HM Treasury and CLG, 2010)
Better Outcomes for Children’s Services though Joint Funding (DCSF 2007)
Good Practice Guidance on joint working between housing and children’s services:
National Youth Reference Group: http://www.nationalyouthreferencegroup.co.uk/
National Youth Homelessness Scheme:
Supporting People Quality Assurance Framework: www.sitra.org.uk/index.php?id=1019
Foyer Accreditation: http://www.foyer.net/level3.asp?level3id=184
Depaul Nightstop UK (Nightstop umbrella organisation) http://www.depaulnightstopuk.org/
Statutory Homelessness in England: The Experience of Families and 16 and 17 year olds
(see chapter 12)
NCAS accommodation resources:
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Subsidy Circular HB/CTB S7/2009, Department
for Work and Pensions (re Housing Benefit subsidy affecting the costs to housing
authorities of providing temporary accommodation under the homelessness legislation):
See www.commissioningsupport.org.ukfor further information and resources,
Including the following:
Achieving Better Outcomes: Commissioning in children’s services (2009)
This document introduces the essential characteristics of good commissioning in
children’s services, in 18 modules.
A-Z of Commissioning (2010)
18 modules of training to support service managers, providers and commissioners to
better understand commissioning, redesign services, manage the markets and achieve
efficiency savings; available from: http://www.commissioningsupport.org.uk/events--training/csp-events--training/development-programme.aspx
Outcomes and Efficiency: Commissioning for Looked After Children (2010)
This guidance was developed in conjunction with commissioners and providers. It is
aimed at lead members, directors of children’s services and senior commissioners and
sets out a number of practical solutions which may be useful in optimising the
commissioning of services for looked after children.
Val Keen, Specialist Adviser, Youth Homelessness, Communities and Local Government
Katy Burch, Commissioning Support Programme