Domestic Violence and Abuse (DV&A) Review (Part A)
- Meeting of Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee, Tuesday, 3rd September, 2019 10.00 am (Item 48.)
Report of the Strategic Director – Neighbourhoods and Director of Homelessness attached
This report sets out plans for developing and delivering a strategic review into Domestic Violence and Abuse (DV&A) services, and the current procurement being undertaken to support this work.
The Committee considered a report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods) and the Director of Homelessness, which set out plans for developing and delivering a strategic review into Domestic Violence and Abuse (DV&A) services, and the current procurement being undertaken to support this work.
The Director of Homelessness outlined the main point and themes within the report.
Some of the key points that arose from the Committees discussions were:-
· It was commented that not all Domestic Violence (DV) incidents were necessarily reported;
· Did the Council have a Domestic Violence strategy and if so what were the KPI’s;
· Was there equitability in funding and allocated resources allocate to support vulnerable communities, such as LGBT and BAME;
· Decisions around the spend on domestic violence should not be unduly influenced by the desire to avoid the escalating cost of homelessness;
· Clarification was sought as to what was meant by the need for the Council to adopt an ethnographic approach in building a case for change;
· What had been the impact of the loss of supported accommodation which had been brought about due to austerity measures;
· Were people making themselves ‘intentionally homeless’ when they were actually fleeing DV, and what was being done to mitigate the problems associated with this for those individuals;
· Was there a risk of conflict between the aim in preventing homelessness and the need to help individuals get away from risks of DV;
· Further information was sought on re-locating individuals who had been subject to DV outside of the City and the Greater Manchester region and where there were instances of this, did the Council’s outreach workers visit these victims;
· When was it expected that the strategy review would be fully scoped, what were the time scales for starting and finishing;
· There was concern that if it was intended that the strategic review was to keep within the existing financial envelope it was difficult to see what services could be provided that would be significantly better than those currently provided;
· What was the cost of the strategic review and had this been factored into the existing financial envelope; and
· There was a need to be cognisant of the fall in provision and the use of alternative forms of accommodation by those fleeing DV which were often not suitable and presented additional risks to those individuals.
The Director of Homelessness advised that the report set out some of the provision that existed for LGBT and BAME communities. In terms of cases of DV, it was acknowledged that the numbers reported did not necessarily represent the total number of cases that existed and this could be reflected by peoples trust in the Police or local circumstances and a point of the review was to try and get a handle on the extent of DV at a community level so that funding could be distributed equitably.
It was explained that an ethnographic approach required the Council to be open minded and set aside assumptions it may have as to what it thought constituted domestic abuse and instead it needed to build its commissioning strategy on actual evidence as opposed to what it thought was needed.
The Director of Homelessness commented that the loss of any form of supported housing was a tragedy in homelessness prevention terms. Whilst it was important to develop and ensure that there was the capacity available for people to stay as long as they needed to stay in supported accommodation, it was also important to ensure that they were able to move when they were willing to without putting an artificial limit on the length of time someone could stay in supported accommodation. He reported that instances where individuals who were making themselves intentionally homeless due to DV should be exceptionally rare. In a wider sense, there was a need for earlier intervention in order to prevent people getting to the pint of presenting as homeless. It was also reported that there shouldn’t be a risk of conflict between preventing homelessness and the need to help individuals get away from risks of DV but this would be dependent on the Council’s approach. It needed to be recognised that if services where developed based on people’s needs and were focussed on outcomes it would be more cost effective for the Council to deliver these services and this was the approach being taken with the review.
The Committee was informed that the Council where necessary, did commission temporary dispersal units outside of Manchester and Greater Manchester if it was in the best interests of an individual’s safety and this would be part of any future commissioning process. It was also reported that everyone who was placed in dispersed accommodation had access to a link/support worker who would be able to provide specialist support. He agreed to provide the Committee with information on how quickly this support was accessible by individuals placed in dispersed accommodation.
The Director of Homelessness advised that he did not have the detail to hand in terms of when it was expected that strategy review would be fully scoped but gave a commitment to provide this information to the Committee. There was no named individual leading on it, although it fell within his purview. In terms of the budget, the review would be working to the existing financial envelope across all the services.
The City Treasurer (Deputy Chief Executive) advised that this review was no different to any other service area in the Council. As the Council was constrained by the resources it had available, any service review would need to be undertaken within the existing financial envelop available. Any particular pressures or issues would be picked up as part of the medium term financial planning process. The Director of Homelessness advised that he would provide information on the cost of the review and projected time scale to Members.
(1) Notes the report; and
(2) Requests that the Director of Homelessness provides Members with information on:-
· how quickly support was accessible by individuals placed in dispersed accommodation;
· when the strategic review was intended to be fully scoped; and
· the projected timescale for the strategic review to be completed and anticipated costs.