Agenda item

Norfolk Housing & Independent Living Manager (Agenda item 7)

Report of Councillor Gordon Bambridge, Executive Member for Housing & Homelessness.


Sarah Shipley, the Assistant Director for Health & Housing presented the report.


The purpose of the report was to gain approval for the externally funded role of Norfolk Housing & Independent Living Manager to be sited in Breckland Council, working on behalf of the 7 Norfolk district councils and being line managed by Breckland’s Housing Manager.


Each of the Norfolk district councils have an Integrated Housing Adaptations Team (IHAT), made up of Breckland staff and Norfolk County Council Occupational Therapy staff. These teams managed the Disabled Facilities Grants work in their districts. The teams had been set up 10 years ago to improve the processes and experiences for the customers who needed adaptations to their homes, and this had been successful in reducing the timescales that it took from initial enquiry to completion of works. The districts and the county council were keen to learn from the experiences of the last 10 years and to continue to make improvements.


Previously, there had been a county wide post that had been responsible for co-ordinating the running of the IHATs but the postholder had retired in March 2022; hence why the Council found itself in this position.


Since then, the managers from the districts and County had reviewed the service and had decided that a programme manager was required and needed to be appointed.


The 0.6FTE role would be funded by all seven districts from their portion of the Better Care Fund.  This was at no additional financial cost to the Council and would not reduce the amount of DFG funding Breckland Council had to spend.


The Chairman proposed the recommendation which was duly seconded.


Councillor Duigan referred to section 5.5 of the report and asked if Breckland Council would receive slightly more funding due to these elements.


Members were informed that this was correct and there was also additional funding to cover the line-management element as well.


Councillor Duigan asked if this covered redundancy costs too.


The Assistant Director for Health & Housing informed Members that this information would be provided to the Committee in due course as she did not have that information to hand.


Under the reasons for the recommendation at 3.1, Councillor Dowling had noticed that the first sentence said, Breckland Council was unique in Norfolk in the situation of the disabled facilities grant not being adequate for the needs of the district’s population, and asked how this had come about and why was Breckland Council different to everyone else.


The Assistant Director for Health & Housing believed that this point was in reference to the funding that this Council received in terms of the demand that was outstripping the funding, and due to the fact that this authority was getting the funding out there to those in need at a much faster rate than other authorities.


The Chairman agreed with the aforementioned point and informed Members that this matter had been discussed at length at the recent Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting.  Breckland Council was good in the sense of it used every single penny of funding that it was allocated and there was not enough money available to cover the demand.  She pointed out that the Cabinet Member and Officers were working very hard with other agencies to try and obtain further monies.


The Assistant Director for Health & Housing advised that this post would be working in partnership with other authorities to drive forward necessary improvements.


Councillor Birt agreed that Breckland Council was in a desperate situation in terms of the demand and lack of funding.  He then referred to section 1.7 of the report and queried the sentence where it stated that this role would be funded by all seven districts from their portion of the Better Care Fund, which would be ‘top sliced’ before the DFG grant element was passed on. If this was the case, he asked if it would be better to fund this role from Breckland’s General Reserves so that it would then receive a slight increase in the Disabled Facilities Grant funding which was so desperately needed.


The Assistant Director for Health & Housing advised that the decision to take from the Better Care Fund had been a decision taken by the Strategic Managers Group on how to fund the post going forward and that the decision to fund this role from the Council’s Reserves was not a decision that she herself could make, as alluded to at other meetings in respect of the DFG funding.


It was noted that this was a situation that all districts found themselves in and this decision had been made by all the strategic managers involved.


Following a unanimous vote, it was:


RESOLVED that the recommendation be approved and the Norfolk Housing & Independent Living Manager post sits in the Housing Team and becomes part of the staff establishment.

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