Stop Press 28 September
The report appears to have been withdrawn from the Cabinet agenda on 1 March.
One of the growth areas in the Croydon budget papers is for improving the provision of semi-independent accommodation for young people aged 16 to 21. It is dealt with in a report to the Cabinet on 1 March explaining an initial contract tendering exerciseand the next stage in awarding contracts to providers.
It states that the plans ‘including the use of block contracting, and regular refreshes of the market will encourage competition that we are anticipating will enable Children’s Social Care in particular to better live within their means while still ensuring the supply of Supported Accommodation is sufficient.
We will focus on tackling ingrained inequality and poverty in the borough. We will follow the evidence to tackle the underlying causes of inequality and hardship, like structural racism, environmental injustice and economic injustice.
These services will primarily benefit Children Looked After, Care Leavers and homeless young adults, all of whom are groups that are at serious disadvantage in the country as a whole, but also in Croydon. The services commissioned through this DPS have been specifically marked on their ability to promote independence skills as a minimum criteria.’
‘This is a vital, statutory service that must be provided to keep some of the most vulnerable young people and adults safe…’
The Council received 59 applications from interested providers.
- 45 did not meet minimum standards in safeguarding, and promoting independence in general –
- 3 providers were eliminated due ‘to excessively
- high pricing’
- 11 Providers passed all Stages across the following Price Bands: 9 each re- 24hr and non-24hr accommodation)
Unregulated Homes For Under-16s
On 20 February The Guardian reported on the ban on the use of unregulated accommodation for under-16s coming into effect in September and concerns about older teenagers not being so protected. I emailed Cabinet member Alisa Flemming.
‘While an important measure it adds to the complexity of problems you and your colleagues have to deal with to resolve the financial crisis and transform children’s services, which I hope that the Improvement & Appraisal Panel will take into account.
While I am sure that various detailed documents to Cabinet have provided detail about this kind of provision in the past, it would be useful if the following information was made public to explain how the Council tends to implement the ban.
1) How many children under 16 are placed by Croydon in unregulated accommodation (a) in the Borough, (b) in other London Boroughs: and (c) out of London?
2) What support is being given to the owners of these unregulated homes to meet regulatory standards?
3) What types of expenditure will they have to invest in order to satisfy regulatory standards?
(4) If the unregulated homes close where can the children be re-housed?
(5) Will new regulated houses have to be created?
(6) Are there existing regulated house providers who can be supported to purchase and improve the unregulated homes?
(7) Is an action plan being drafted?
(8) How many additional staff will the Council need to employ to implement an action plan?
(9) Does the need for urgent action by the Council mean that the options for the use of Croydon Park Hotel should be re-assessed to provide temporary or longer term housing for under 16s?
(10) Could some of the first tier assets being considered for sale be adaptable to create housing capable of meeting regulatory standards?
(11) Is the long term issue of housing for under 16 year olds and older teenagers one that needs to be addressed in the drafting of the new Housing Strategy?’
Croydon Park Hotel
I copied the email to Deputy Leader Stuart King who replied as follows in relation to the reference to the Croydon Park Hotel, which falls within his portfolio area of responsibility.
‘As I set out at Thursday’s cabinet when I introduced the report and recommendations on this item (available online now here: https://webcasting.croydon.gov.uk/meetings/11631), the council has fully explored the option of using the CPH for emergency and temporary accommodation (EA/TA). The assessment of the Business Case for EA/TA was robust and the officer recommendation was that this was not a financially viable option for the council. I accepted this assessment, as did cabinet colleagues in endorsing the recommendations in the report. I do not therefore see a reason to review this so soon after the earlier assessment has taken place.
I did, as requested, pass on your suggestion of alternative uses for CPH, which will be part of that initial business case assessment. However, I have to be very clear in stating that all intended uses will need to be considered and approved in light of the council’s underlying lack of finance to underwrite lettings that are not viable. Subject to the conclusion of the marketing process, and the receipt of an acceptable offer price, I would think it highly likely that we will proceed with a disposal of CPH.’
I have not yet had a detailed reply from Cllr Flemming and I have submitted the questions under Freedom of Information.