Remarkable progress achieved recently

I AM writing in response to the article, which appeared in your Friday February 2 2007 issue entitled 'Cash for needy is going to addicts'. I wish to express my concern that such misleading and emotive information has been published, especially as John Pe

I AM writing in response to the article, which appeared in your Friday February 2 2007 issue entitled 'Cash for needy is going to addicts'.I wish to express my concern that such misleading and emotive information has been published, especially as John Penrose has simultaneously written to me raising questions to which I am now responding and providing him with the relevant information.The contention that funding for needy vulnerable people is being directed to support 'drug addicts' from outside North Somerset is inaccurate. Supporting People is a national programme providing housing support for a wide range of client groups, the largest of which is for older people, followed by people with learning disabilities and people with physical and sensory impairments who together account for 80 per cent of the services and 44 per cent of the budget. Drug and alcohol services amount to 10 per cent of the budget and provide 68 units of accommodation or 1.8 per cent of the total. Supporting People funding is subject to regulation by Government and grant conditions stipulate that authorities must ensure fair and open access to services and in respect of short term services "may not take account of whether an applicant has a local connection to another area".As John Penrose MP is aware there has been remarkable progress achieved in recent years in improving the quality of supported accommodation, particularly in Weston, by increasing the level of regulation in co-operation with the provider sector. The exceptionally successful joint work between the council and Avon & Somerset Constabulary in addressing the most problematic houses in multiple occupations and reducing levels of antisocial behaviour has also been recognised nationally.There are still areas where the partner agencies want to make further improvements. Weston does have a concentration of drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation services, which also accounts for the development of secondary services and again where we are seeking to ensure good standards are delivered through programmes such as Supporting People. A lot has been achieved in collaboration with colleagues in probation and in drug action teams nationally to improve supervision of people receiving treatment for drug and alcohol problems in our area and also to improve the accuracy of information about services so that inappropriate placements are not made in the first place. These measures are having an impact. You may be interested to know that by the end of the current financial year, it is estimated that the number of people with drug and alcohol-related problems in the local Supporting People programme will have further reduced by 20 per cent, from what is already a small percentage of the overall budget. However, a major objective of our Community Safety partnership is to work with the National Treatment Agency to review and determine the level of drug and alcohol treatment and HMO facilities that is reasonable for North Somerset to sustain. The current position is that while there is a national referral programme in operation, there is no national approach to the distribution to such services. We would be grateful for John Penrose's support in pursuing the discussion at national level to obtain agreement to consider such a policy being adopted. I hope Mr Penrose will work with me to improve the quality of life in North Somerset rather than spending time arguing about incomplete information.COUNCILLOR ISABEL CUMMINGS - Executive Member, Housing and Community SafetyNorth Somerset Council


You may also want to watch:


Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus