Agenda item

Review of Homeless Support Service.


The Committee considered a report of the Director of Public Health which sought the views of the Committee around the proposed homeless support offer as part of the consultation. A copy of the report, marked ‘Agenda Item 8’, is filed with these minutes.


The Chairman welcomed to the meeting for this item Rachel Hall, Deputy CEO, Falcon Support Services and invited her to make a representation before he took any questions from members.


Rachel Hall explained that the Falcon Centre had had a long-standing good relationship with the County Council over the years.  The Falcon Centre had been aware that the current contract was coming to an end and understood that this would provide an opportunity to review the service.  However, the Falcon Centre was not expecting that the review would result in a proposal to cease commissioning this specialist service.


Rachel Hall reiterated the concern raised in her questions (minute 14 refers) that the Cabinet had been provided with inaccurate and misleading information and suggested that the Falcon Centre would like an opportunity to work with all parties involved to find a solution to protect the most vulnerable.  She suggested that the proposed changes to how the service was provided would result in a worse service.


In response to questions from Members, Rachel Hall responded as follows:


(i)           The Falcon Centre could support 30 people at any one time and the accommodation was always fully occupied with a waiting list. In a typical year there would be a total of 100 different residents and the average length of stay was 4 months, in line with the Falcon Centre’s role as a provider of supported accommodation. There were other accommodation centres for homeless people in Leicestershire such as The Carpenter’s Arms in Loughborough and a rehabilitation facility in Hinckley. The Carpenter’s Arms was much larger than the Falcon Centre.


(ii)         The County Council had been commissioning the homeless support service provided by Falcon Support Services for 10 years. The contract value was £300,000 per annum and the contract would end on 31st March 2024. The £300,000 was a small part of the overall budget for the Falcon Centre. However, the Falcon Centre was of the view that the homeless support service enabled it to be an exempt organisation in terms of housing benefit, which made the value of the contract significantly higher.


Rachel Hall also acknowledged that she had had a sufficient opportunity to raise concerns and questions.


Arising from discussions the following points were noted:



(iii)        In response to a question as to what proportion of the people that the Falcon Centre supported were from Leicestershire and what proportion were from outside of the county boundary, it was agreed that this information would be provided to members after the meeting.


(iv)       It was queried whether, given that the Falcon Centre was submitting that it was financially reliant on the funding from Leicestershire County Council and at risk of closure should the funding not be received, questions should be raised as to the financial sustainability of the Falcon Centre as a charity and whether further checks needed to be carried out regarding its status.


(v)         In response to a question from the Chairman as to how the County Council audited the provision of the services it commissioned it was explained that the Public Health department did not specify exactly how the funding should be spent, they were mainly concerned about whether the overall aims were being achieved. The contract with the Falcon Centre included Key Performance Indicators which the Falcon Centre was required to provide data on. Quarterly contract management meetings were held with the Falcon Centre. When contracts were coming to an end a full review was carried out and any new issues would be covered in future contracts with that provider. However, reassurance was given that Public Health were always looking to improve and refine contract management processes and would take suggestions on board.


(vi)       Leicestershire had the largest team of Local Area Co-ordinators (LACs) in the country with a total of 35. There would be no new LAC roles created to provide the homeless support service. The work would be carried out by the existing team of LACs. Given how large the team was there was flexibility to move LACs to where they were most needed, however under the new model for homeless support extra LACs would not be moved to the Loughborough area as the aim was for the service to be more equitably distributed across the county. There was a lot of national interest in the way LACs were being used in Leicestershire including interest from government. Members commended the work LACs carried out in Leicestershire and welcomed the proposed use of LACs in the new model for homeless support.


(vii)      It was felt that one of the benefits of using LAC to provide the homeless support service was that they would support people for as long as they need and would also monitor service users effectively to ensure that they accessed the services that they had been signposted to.


(viii)    The Director of Public Health and the Cabinet Lead Member for Health strongly refuted the claims of Falcon Support Services that the Cabinet report of 23 June 2023 contained inaccuracies and made it clear that Cabinet had not been misled.




(a)        That the draft revised model for the delivery of homeless support be noted, and the proposed use of the Local Area Coordination service as part of the model be welcomed;


(b)        That officers be requested to take on board the comments now made by the Committee as part of the consultation process;


(c)         That officers be requested to provide a further report for the Committee at its meeting on 1 November 2023 regarding the results of the consultation and the recommendation that Cabinet will be asked to approve.

Supporting documents: