Disability Service - Specialist Accommodation Unit
- Meeting of Cabinet, Wednesday, 15th January, 2020 3.00 pm (Item 222.)
- View the background to item 222.
Reason for Urgency: The decision is required to facilitate communication to Lancashire County Council, as soon as possible, of this Council’s commitment to make a significant financial contribution to the County Council’s proposed development of a specialist accommodation unit in Great Harwood for adults with disabilities, so as to enable the project to proceed without delay.
Reason for Urgency: Councillor Noordad Aziz, Chair of the Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee, agreed that the following decision was urgent and could not reasonably be deferred on the grounds that the decision was required to facilitate communication to Lancashire County Council, as soon as possible, of this Council’s commitment to make a significant financial contribution to the County Council’s proposed development of a specialist accommodation unit in Great Harwood for adults with disabilities, so as to enable the project to proceed without delay
Councillor Loraine Cox, Portfolio Holder Housing and Regeneration, provided a report to bring to Cabinet’s attention Lancashire County Council’s intention to develop two specialist accommodation units; one for disabled adults and one for disabled children both in Great Harwood. The report sought Cabinet’s approval to make a £300,000 contribution from the Council’s Capital Programme towards the adult specialist unit.
The Leader of the Council commented that both he and Jenny Molineux, as county councillors representing Great Harwood, Rishton and Clayton-le Moors, were in favour of the proposals. The former school had been closed for a number of years and the new proposals would provide essential respite care for both children and adults, which was vital in providing carers with a break from their normal responsibilities.
Councillor Tony Dobson indicated that there would be cross-party support for this development. He suggested that the County Council might wish to provide an information session to local councillors and residents at the site to keep them informed. The Leader of the Council indicated that it was often the case that rumours started on social media, which gave a false impression of what facilities were planned. It was important to get the right message out to the public. He requested that the Head of Regeneration and Housing feed those comments back to colleagues at Lancashire County Council. Bank Mill House was suggested as a possible venue for a public information meeting.
Approval of the report was considered to be a key decision.
Reason for Decision
Lancashire County Council’s Disability Service has reviewed how it provides short break services to severely physically disabled adults including households with a learning disability and is proposing to build a new specialist unit in Great Harwood that:-
- Accommodates individuals in an emergency that have significant behavioural problems that pose a risk to themselves and others;
- Support care provision and prevent carer-breakdown, which could result in more costly placements for individuals;
- Provide respite for families / carers that will enable individuals to remain in their home environment;
- Support young people with complex needs in transition from children’s services.
The new adult residential unit will provide seven ground floor bedrooms including communal space and specialist equipment. The Council is being invited by Lancashire County Council to contribute £300,000 to the adult unit which will cost approximately £2.034 million to construct.
Lancashire County Council is also proposing to construct a similar specialist facility for disabled children at an estimated cost of £3.01 million on the same site (the Council is not being asked to contribute towards the children’s unit). This means a total investment of £5.04 million in Great Harwood for new state of the art facilities for severely disabled households.
Hyndburn Borough Council has accumulated a circa £652,000 underspend over several years from its Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) funding and therefore the County Council has approached the Council seeking a financial contribution of £300,000 from the underspend towards the adult accommodation unit (and not the children’s unit)
DFG funding is part of the County Council’s Better Care Fund (BCF) and is distributed to the relevant Housing Authorities (District Councils in Lancashire) to support disabled households to remain living as independently as possible in their own homes.
The support provided through the provision of the short break units will enable carers to take a break from continued caring responsibilities which in turn will assist them to continue to provide that vital care. It also prevents carer breakdown which often results in care placement and will also support the placement of emergency accommodation for individuals displaying significant behavioural problems that pose a risk to themselves and others (safeguarding issues).
Therefore, the County Council’s capital contribution to the adult accommodation unit supports the aims of the Better Care Fund priorities and supports individuals with disabilities to receive consistent supportive care which enables them to remain in their own homes and current caring situations. For this reason using the DFG underspend is an appropriate and valuable use of this funding.
Should Cabinet decide to support a £300,000 contribution towards the adult disabled unit from the Capital Programme the Council will seek to impose legal and financial conditions to ensure Hyndburn Borough Council’s financial contribution towards the adult unit is protected and used for the disabled adult specialised accommodation unit as proposed, including the following:-
- Payment timing – Hyndburn Borough Council’s £300,000 contribution to be paid when the adult accommodation unit is first occupied;
- Applying certain conditions to any future disposal of the unit proposed by Lancashire County Council;
- Clawback Provisions should the unit cease to be used for adult disabled households in the future, within a variety of timeframes. The Council could seek to impose a charge of title to secure the repayment obligations.
Alternative Options considered and Reasons for Rejection
The Council does not have to make a financial contribution to the County Council’s new accommodation unit. However, the Council has accumulated a significant DFG underspend which is ring-fenced for supporting disabled households to live independently. The £300,000 can therefore be considered an appropriate and worthy use of this funding, working in partnership with Lancashire County Council supporting the housing needs of disabled households.
The Council has a very significant DFG funding programme and therefore a decision to make a £300,000 funding contribution to the County Council will not affect the Council’s ability in helping households with DFG’s.
Resolved (1) That Cabinet approves a £300,000 contribution from the Council’s Capital Programme as set out in the report towards Lancashire County Council’s proposed new specialist accommodation unit for physically disabled adults in Great Harwood, and
(2) That Cabinet delegates authority to the Head of Regeneration and Housing to conclude the terms of the Council’s funding contribution following consultation with the Deputy Chief Executive, the Executive Director (Legal and Demographic Services) and with the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Regeneration.
There were no items taken in private.
- Disability Service Report, item 222. PDF 103 KB
- Appendix 1 - Customer First Analysis, item 222. PDF 92 KB