NEWS AND POLICY UPDATE:
Information for the providers and commissioners of housing related services for older and disabled people
- FUEL POVERTY RELIEF – NEW GOVERNMENT MEASURES ANNOUNCED
The Government has announced a package of measures to tackle fuel poverty. These include:
Winter Fuel Payments stay at the level previously announced, over-60s: £250, over-80s:£400.There is still no action proposed to tackle the very high unit costs faced by the poorest households using pre-payment meters. www.defra.gov.uk/news/2008/080911a.htm
- More funding for home insulation, including 50% off the cost of insulation for everyone and an extra £74m for WarmFront over the next 2yrs
- £350 million for a new ‘Community Energy Saving Programme’ to fund an estimated 100 local councils, voluntary organisations and energy companies to carry out house-to-house calls offering help in the most deprived areas (details awaited)
- Cold weather payments to go up from £8.50 a week to £25 (payable to certain groups of people on means tested benefits when temperatures drop below zero for seven consecutive days)
- A freeze on tariffs for the poorest households this winter (not retrospective so as most price rises have already taken place, impact may be limited)
- CHANGE ENERGY SUPPLIER
One way that people can save some money on fuel bills is to ensure that they are buying from the cheapest supplier. Disability charity Scope has linked up with the Consumers Association so when people 'Switch with Which' via www.switchwithwhich.co.uk/home.php?m=home&cid=scope a £10 donation will be made to Scope.
- CORGI LOSE GAS INSTALLERS REGISTRATION CONTRACT
The Health and Safety Executive has selected Capita to run the new registration scheme for gas installers from 1 April 2009. This will replace the scheme currently operated by CORGI. Fees for installers may rise, but the HSE says that these ‘should be fixed at affordable levels’. Details are awaited. www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/bidder.htm?ebul=cons/aug08&cr=14
- FUTURE OF HOME IMPROVEMENT AGENCIES OUTLINED IN NEW REPORT
This report considers the future provision of HIAs. It concludes that HIAs will become more diverse as they respond to local needs and priorities, but two ingredients will continue to define an HIA: client-centred support for people to exercise choice over their home environment and expertise in making changes to the physical fabric of the home. www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/futurehia
- HOMES AND COMMUNITIES AGENCY – LEGALLY REQUIRED TO ADDRESS AGEING
In a radical last minute change to the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008, the objects of the new Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) were changed to include a specific remit to address housing provision for older and disabled people. This Act defines one of the four legal objects of the HCA as ‘to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development and good design in England with a view to meeting the needs of people living in England’. It goes on to define good design as that which ‘has due regard to the needs of elderly persons and disabled persons’ and that ‘needs includes future needs’. www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2008/ukpga_20080017_en_2#pt1-ch1-l1g1
- HOUSING RESCUE PACKAGE
The Government has announced a package of measures to support the housing market including:
For details see: www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/950558
- Support for vulnerable homeowners at risk of repossession. Through RSLs, families who cannot afford their mortgage repayments and who would be eligible for homelessness assistance will be offered shared equity, shared ownership or sale and rent back options. Reform of Income Support for Mortgage Interest will shorten the waiting period from 39 to 13 weeks (from April 2009).
- Help for first time buyers- Support for c.10,000 first time buyers to buy unsold newly built homes by offering an equity loan of up to thirty per cent of the value, co-funded by the government and the developer, free of charge for five years.
- Increase supply - Bring forward £400 million for social housing from existing budgets, delivering up to 5,500 more homes over the next 18 months. For the first time local authorities with existing stock will able to apply for this grant to build social housing, alongside registered social landlords
- Encourage market - Raising of Stamp Duty threshold to £175,000
HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE NEWS
- GLOBAL REPORT ON FALLS PREVENTION IN OLDER AGE
This World Health Organization report gives an international overview of the magnitude of the problem, noting that falls account for 40% of all injury related deaths. It considers the determinants of active ageing and falls prevention, and offers examples of effective interventions. It includes a framework for a global strategy for preventing falls in older age. This notes the need to ensure that physical environments are “age friendly”. www.who.int/ageing/publications/Falls_prevention7March.pdf
- FIRSTSTOP HOUSING AND CARE ADVICE SERVICE LAUNCHED
Firststop offers advice on housing, care and finance for older people and their carers via a website (www.firststopcareadvice.org.uk/) and telephone advice line (0800 377 7070, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, calls free from BT phones). Set up by four older people’s charities, Elderly Accommodation Counsel, Counsel and Care, Help the Aged and NHFA it aims to offer a single point of contact to professional, confidential and independent advice.
- HIGH QUALITY CARE FOR ALL
Lord Darzi’s final review, High Quality Care for All, concludes a series of reports, consultations and recommendations for a ten year vision for the National Health Service. One of the key themes of interest to the housing/ care sector is a focus on improving health as well as treating sickness, and
ensuring that all PCTs commission comprehensive wellbeing and prevention services in partnership with local authorities. www.networks.csip.org.uk/icn/Resources/Type/ICNResource/?cid=3844
- DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH ALLOCATES £286m TO IMPROVE END OF LIFE CARE
The DH End of Life Care Strategy, backed with £286million, sets the objective of providing high quality care for adults approaching the end of their life. It aims to help more people to die in the setting they choose. The majority of surveys show that most people’s preference is to die at home (56-74%). Currently only about 18% do so, with 58% dying in hospital, 18% in a care home, 4% in a hospice and 3% other. Sadly, the Strategy does not mention the key role of housing quality, suitability or adaptability.
- COMMISSIONING HOUSING SUPPORT FOR HEALTH AND WELLBEING – NEW CSIP REPORT
This report is useful for anyone interested in encouraging the joint commissioning of services that encompass housing related support. Clearly set out, the report covers evidence of the link between housing, health and wellbeing, illustrates the relevance of housing support services through case examples and sets out action points for commissioners. www.integratedcarenetwork.gov.uk/IndependentLivingChoices
- CARBON MONOXIDE – THE HIDDEN KILLER
The charity CO-Awareness campaigns to raise the profile of the dangers of poisoning by carbon monoxide (CO) and other toxins. It also supports CO poisoning victims, their families and friends. Their website includes safety check and diagnostic information. They are running an awareness week from 17th November that local providers may wish to link into. www.co-awareness.org.
- FUTUREBUILDERS £1M TENDER FUND – WITH NO APPLICATION FORMS
Futurebuilders have created a £1m interest-free loan fund to help charities to meet the cost of tendering for service delivery contracts. The Tender Fund is offering interest-free three year loans of between £3,000 and £50,000 to third sector organisations who need relatively small sums of money to help them tender successfully for specific public service delivery contracts. There is no closing date for applications and the money will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until the £1m runs out. In line with their radical ‘dragon’s den’ approach to funding, assessment will be by phone/ visit instead of a paper form. www.futurebuilders-england.org.uk/content/Funding/TenderFund.aspx
- INDEPENDENT INFORMATION ABOUT MONEY AND DEBT
As the credit crunch takes hold, more people are facing debt and money problems. Transact is the national forum for financial inclusion and their website offers useful links and information on a range of related topics, from debt management to banking. www.transact.org.uk/default.asp
- FSA REPORT CONCLUDES MONEY EDUCATION DOESN’T WORK
New research shows financial education may not change people’s choices when it comes to their personal finances. It identifies psychological factors as stronger influences on what people actually do; increasing how much they know only has a ‘modest impact’ on behaviour. The research, carried out by the London School of Economics for the Financial Services Authority, concludes that the information-based approach of the National Strategy for Financial Capability is likely to have only a limited effect.
- SUPPORTING PEOPLE FUNDING TO GO INTO AREA BASED GRANT
The Government has affirmed its intention to channel Supporting People funding through Local Area Agreements from 2009 unless it finds ‘major concerns’ in the current 15 Pathfinder Authorities. This means that Supporting People funding will be subsumed within Area Based Grant making up a third of this pot of money.
- DOWN YOUR WAY- INSTANT ACCESS TO LOCAL AREA AGREEMENT PRIORITIES
Want to know which National Indicators have been included in the Local Area Agreement for a particular locality? Simply click on the chosen location and the full list appears. Also links to explanatory information about LAAs. www.localpriorities.communities.gov.uk/default.aspx
- FREE MANAGEMENT CONSULTANCY FOR THIRD SECTOR
The Cranfield Trust is an independent charity providing free management consultancy for charities and social enterprise groups. To apply see: www.cranfieldtrust.org/
- ICT PRODUCTS AND SERVICES FOR THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR
Community organisations looking for reliable suppliers of software, hardware, web design or ICT services may find the ICT Suppliers Directory useful. It offers a comprehensive, easy to search, national listing of suppliers with a proven track record of working with the voluntary sector. www.suppliersdirectory.org.uk/
- ESCALATING PETROL COSTS THREATEN HOME CARE PROVISION
In a survey undertaken by the UK Homecare Association, 64% of providers reported that they anticipate turning down new care packages over coming months because of rising fuel prices. 78% said that they were having trouble retaining staff and blamed the cost of car use as a major contributor. Fuel price rises are set to cause problems for all service providers who offer a home visiting service.
- SWAP YOUR BENT OR BROKEN LADDER AND GET A DISCOUNT ON A NEW ONE
The Health and Safety Executive is running a Ladder Exchange initiative to help prevent ladder accidents. It is offering businesses the chance to exchange their substandard ladder for a new one at a discounted price. www.hse.gov.uk/falls/ladderexchange.htm?ebul=hsegen/07-jul-2008&cr=4
COMMUNITIES IN CONTROL: REAL PEOPLE, REAL POWER
This Department for Communities and Local Government white paper is about ideas for increasing the engagement, influence and power of citizens and communities. It flags up a number of new funding streams to increase active involvement, including a £7.5m Empowerment Fund. Many of the proposals will have a wide impact on both the voluntary sector and local government. www.communities.gov.uk/publications/communities/communitiesincontrol
It was accompanied by the statutory guidance for the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/strongsafeprosperous
SPOTLIGHT ON OLDER PEOPLE
Help the Aged produce an annual digest of key data relating to older people. Their latest, Spotlight Report 2008, is a useful quick reference offering interesting insights into major trends. It notes a large rise in the number of older people who report that worry about the future is affecting their physical health – up from 1.3 million in 2007 to 2.2 million in 2008. http://policy2.helptheaged.org.uk/_policy/policy_spotlight08_210508.htm
HELP THE AGED AND AGE CONCERN MERGER: NEW CHAIR APPOINTED
The current chair of Anchor Trust, Dianne Jeffrey, has been appointed as the chair of the proposed new merged charity. She will lead on the appointment of a new chief executive later this year. Biography: www.derby.ac.uk/human-resources/signpost/about-our-university/whos-who
PENSIONERS NOW OUTNUMBER CHILDREN
New figures from The Office for National Statistics show that people over pensionable age now make up 19% of the population compared with 18.9% for children below the age of 16. In mid 1970s 13.26 million people were 60yrs or over and 13.1 million were under 18yrs. The fastest growing age group in the population are those aged 80 years and over, now 4.5% of the total population (2.75 million) compared with 2.8% in 1981 (1.57 million). www.statistics.gov.uk/CCI/nugget.asp?ID=6
DON’T STOP ME NOW: PREPARING FOR AN AGEING POPULATION – AUDIT COMMISSION REPORT
Most local authorities are not adapting to the changing age structure of the population, is the main conclusion that emerges from this report. It considers how councils should plan strategically for the changes ahead and identifies solutions that can be implemented relatively quickly. www.audit-commission.gov.uk/laterlife/
NEVER TOO LATE FOR LIVING: ALL PARTY PARLIAMENTARY LOCAL GOVERNMENT INQUIRY REPORT
The inquiry considered how the place of older people in society can be improved over the next decade. The resulting report proposes a radical shake up that would break down boundaries between councils and health sectors, greater consensus about what services can be relied on as people grow older, and focus on preventing ill health and supporting independence. www.lgiu.gov.uk/publication-detail.jsp?&id=173&md=0§ion=publication
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