The Public Health budget for Hammersmith and Fulham Council in 2017/18 will be £22,338,000. So slightly down on the £23,633,000 in this financial year. My concern remains that this spending is largely wasted.
One area where the funds can be used effectively is in getting specialist help for the homeless. A majority of those being put in general hostels should be placed in specialist hostels. The Council tell me:
“Adult Social Care estimate that around 55 per cent of residents in the generic supported housing services for homeless people have support needs related to their mental health, often presenting with substance and/or alcohol misuse. Approximately 20 per cent of these residents will have severe and enduring mental illness.”
Only £551,000 – about two per cent of the Public Health budget is allocated to supported housing. This is spent by the Adult Social Care Department.
After some persistence I have now been told that the Council has agreed to an extra payment from the Public Health budget and that “General Fund Housing Budgets are receiving £298,300 in 2017/18 that will help support vulnerable households.”
Now there are still some concerns about this. One is that two departments in the Council – Adult Social Care and Housing – will be operating separately carry out the same role. They will each be arranging to find specialist accommodation for groups of people. It would make sense for this to be “joined up”.
Another basic point is that far more of Public Health budget – millions more – should be allocated to this. But at least there is progress. The £298,300 will mean proper help for some of those who would otherwise but shunted off to a general hostel or a bed and breakfast hotel where they don’t get the help they need and their condition is left to deteriorate.