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Luton Borough Council

Supporting Wellbeing

 

The right housing options are in place so that people in Luton can live well by feeling included and supported to live independent lives.

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Housing’s essential role in supporting health and wellbeing is well evidenced and recognised by Luton Health and Wellbeing Board. The board has identified a focus on housing and homelessness in its Health and Wellbeing Strategy and these issues are also reflected in our JSNA.

Overarching themes include:

  • promoting healthy lifestyles
  • reducing health inequalities and poverty
  • supporting people to meet health needs through housing

Broader work across Luton Council including our Health Inequalities Strategic Plan also aims to address the health impacts of deprivation, many of which are housing related.

This section of the housing strategy includes information, priorities and actions relating to ten different groups which may require specific housing responses. We recognise that many people will be affected by several of the specific issues identified.

As an example, ex-military personnel are often affected by mental illness or substance misuse, and by other vulnerabilities including physical disability or offending behaviour. The overlap between different groups in this sustainment.

As Luton Council and Luton CCG continue to align their work, the role of housing in supporting health and wellbeing is crucial to the delivery of the Sustainability and Transformation Programme and wellbeing aspects of the LIF.

Luton is a young town with a high proportion of residents under 15. The council’s children’s services has a focus on:

  • looked after children (LAC)
  • 16 to 25-year olds living with a disability
  • asylum seekers aged 16 to 18 years old

As at November 2017, there were 350 looked after children in Luton and we take our role as corporate parent seriously. For example we recently changed our housing allocations policy to:

  • give greater priority to young people leaving care
  • give access to larger homes for fostering families

Good quality housing options for care leavers are very important to ensure good outcomes and life chances. At present, staff provide support in the following areas to all successful transition from care to adulthood:

  • developing independence
  • money skills,
  • education
  • training and employment options

Challenges currently exist in identifying appropriate accommodation for care leavers where hostels are inappropriate. We’re also seeking to support 52 care leavers from hostel accommodation to other independent accommodation.

Tackling domestic violence and abuse is a priority for us. We’re looking at new ways of reducing domestic violence and abuse and its effects on families in Luton and recently committed to the Chartered Institute of Housing’s Make A Stand.

Under this commitment we seek to respond to domestic abuse which affects our residents or staff. Victims of abuse require a secure and consistent pathway to flee domestic abuse into refuge and onto secure accommodation as well as options to stay safely in their existing homes.

Domestic violence accounts for around a quarter of all recorded crimes and is one of the leading causes of homelessness for women nationally including nearly half of all repeat homelessness applications.

Nationally, the number of people fleeing domestic violence and making homeless applications has risen in actual terms, although the percentage of acceptances due to domestic violence has decreased. Violence and abuse is a factor which leads to women sleeping rough and is also present for rough sleepers.

Aspects which impact on abuse and the routes out of it include of culture, language, family structures, and racism and in some instances the insecure immigration status of abuse victims.

In 2017, Luton Women’s Aid received 625 calls for support, 78 per cent of which came from women who were experiencing current domestic violence which had been present for an average of five years - one in twenty women had more than one perpetrator, 197 women with 231 children received face to face support.

The east of England is one of the regions with the highest prevalence (19 per cent) of new HIV diagnoses outside of London, rates of HIV infection in Luton at 4.6 per cent are over twice the national average of 2 per cent.

The communities most affected are Black African men and gay men who make up around two thirds and one third respectively of local cases, because of the stigma associated with HIV, many people affected are also suffering from mental health problems and discrimination which can make for chaotic lifestyles.

HIV medication has improved significantly and helps to prolong life, although over time this also comes with sideeffects such as brittle bones and mobility difficulties. Appropriate housing solutions will reflect these needs as well as supporting a stable and healthy home environment.

Luton has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis (TB) in the east of England, generally in excess of 20 cases per 100,000 population.

However, TB rates dropped to 2016, people with TB often require supported housing options when leaving hospital in order to stabilise and manage their condition. Lack of stable housing can lead to further emergency admissions.

There are currently estimated to be around 800 adults in Luton recorded by their GP as having a learning disability, and there is a core group of 200 to 300 known people who require care and support.

Luton has a number of supported housing schemes providing for this client group and the longer term need for these is being reviewed.

However, the true picture of all those with learning disabilities is much larger; there were over 3,370 people with a learning disability in Luton in 2017 and this is estimated to increase to 3,870 by the year 2035.

In addition there is a hidden cohort of people with learning disabilities living at home with ageing parents, this group of people is getting older and requiring more help as they progress into old age.

People with learning disabilities are increasingly seeking personalised options, including sharing a home with a partner or spouse and housing options need to adjust to facilitate this. Most of this housing will be general needs with support rather than bespoke housing.

We’re currently working with Luton CCG on a strategy for people with learning disabilities. This strategy will assess the needs, including accommodation and support needs, and develop commissioning priorities for specialist accommodation.

Actions from this strategy including recommendations on assistive technology, housing options and shared living will be progressed during the life of this housing strategy. Early drafts of the Learning Disabilities and Autism Strategy identify the need to commission additional supported living and community services and increase housing options for people with learning disabilities.

Within the Transforming Care programme we are working with partners in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes. Sourcing appropriate housing is a crucial part of this work stream and close working is therefore required to ensure a good outcome for individual service users with complex needs.

The NHS Midlands and East region has produced a housing plan specifically for the Transforming Care Programme which identifies a requirement for 98 units of accommodation by 2023 in Luton. A key cohort is young adults returning to Luton from out-of-borough school placements.

Good mental health underpins our physical health and wellbeing and is fundamental to how we live our lives through relationships, work, leisure, and in achieving our full potential. Mental health and wellbeing is influenced by many underlying factors, and there is evidence to connect poor and unaffordable housing with poor mental health.

Luton has existing partnerships which connect housing and mental health organisations and partnership working is crucial to good housing outcomes for people with mental ill health.

People in marginalised groups are at greater risk of mental health issues including:

  • black, Asian and minority ethnic (BME) people
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people
  • disabled people
  • people who have had contact with the criminal justice system (ex-offenders)

Mental ill health is a major factor in rough sleeping and our rough sleeper initiatives include mental health support to ensure that people can move off the streets.

Nationally, rates of schizophrenia are:

  • times higher in black Caribbean people
  • 4.7 in black Africans
  • 2.4 times higher in Asian groups

Black populations are most likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide attempts, psychotic disorders and drug dependency.

Mental ill health is also a factor for other people such as victims of abuse, ex-offenders, care leavers and people with learning, sensory or physical disabilities.

Isolation and loneliness is increasingly recognised as a major factor in mental and physical wellbeing. Good housing, safe neighbourhoods and a sense of community has a crucial role to play in keeping people connected and well.

There are currently estimated to be between 3,000 and 4,000 people receiving mental health services in Luton. According to the PANSI estimates, between 22,872 and 23,971 Luton people have some sort of mental health problem and between 9,559 and 10,036 have two or more psychiatric disorders. Others will be affected but undiagnosed.

Luton has a wealth of charity and third sector organisations with an interest in mental health whose strengths and specialisms should be harnessed to improve the wellbeing of people with specific mental health needs.

Migrant destitution in England is rising, and for migrants who find themselves destitute and with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) there are limited services available. Mainstream services struggle to provide effective support for those outside of the welfare state, yet destitute migrants remain extremely vulnerable.

Without accommodation, migrants exposed to rough sleeping are in danger of worsening physical and mental health, and an increased exposure to substance misuse. For destitute migrants, the lack of accommodation is even more challenging as they do not have access to benefits. This leaves them at greater risk of exploitation and/or trafficking.

Access to basic humanitarian and subsistence needs such as toiletries, cash, travel, food and clothing is also a crucial support mechanism for ensuring destitute migrants are able to survive day to day. Around two thirds of rough sleepers in Luton are thought to be destitute migrants with no recourse to public funds, primarily from Eastern Europe.

Within Luton, a project run by NOAH Enterprises and funded via MHCLG, helps destitute migrants to access health care, reducing public health risks; to overcome barriers to employment; to access financial services via a credit union and to secure long term accommodation.

The NOAH Controlling Migration project also links with the NOAH Street Drinkers Outreach project to meet the needs of rough sleeping migrants.

Tackling gang activity and offending behaviour is a crucial part of improving quality of life in Luton - where this activity is related to place, there is a role for effective housing management and support to limit the impacts of people becoming involved in criminal behaviour.

For those who have been imprisoned, too many leave custody without a job, training, and/or a place to live; this can lead to mental health issues and re-offending. As a matter of good practice, statutory and voluntary services should engage with a prisoner’s housing needs at the earliest opportunity.

There’s evidence that helping offenders to secure suitable housing before the point of release and creating opportunities for specialist support alongside this is crucial to break the cycle of offending.

Data provided by HM Prison and Probation Service for Bedfordshire in June 2018 showed:

  • approximately 80 individuals to be released from prison in next 12 months, 70 per cent of which were in Luton
  • insufficient housing and support available to ex-offenders to support rehabilitation and manage risk effectively
  • specific locations required for certain offenders for example away from schools and childcare settings

Although Luton has a lower than average population of older people, the number is growing and there is also evidence of people becoming frailer at an earlier age in the town.

Luton Council commissioned research in 2017 to review the medium terms housing needs of older and frail people in Luton. The research looked at current provision of specialist accommodation and services, the pattern of demand and need in the town and options to remodel or develop existing assets to meet arising need.

Most older people prefer to stay at home as long as possible but require better access to advice and support to enable independent living. However, the provision of aspirational retirement living options can help to encourage moves to age-appropriate accommodation which frees up family housing across tenure.

Our research identified that Luton has a lower provision of older person’s accommodation than comparable boroughs and there is a need for additional age-appropriate and sheltered accommodation as follows

The report notes, however, that these numbers would reduce if more people were able to remain independent at home - (please see attached PDF below for more information)

The wards with greatest need for new accommodation are:

  • Bramingham
  • Round Green
  • Leagrave
  • Challney
  • Crawley

There was a clear demand for improved information, advice and guidance services, including the potential for a community navigator model which identifies key members of a community to share knowledge and signposting. Older people and their families especially need access to good advice on staying independent at home, adaptations, assistive technology and financial advice.

All the council’s existing sheltered schemes were reviewed in order to identify potential development opportunities, as well as some additional sites which might be appropriate for targeted older persons’ accommodation.

We anticipate a doubling in the number of people in Luton with dementia from about 1,800 in 2014 to 3,600 in 2040. There is evidence that dementia is more prevalent in African Caribbean and UK South Asian communities. Luton’s Dementia Strategy seeks to make Luton a Dementia Friendly town.

Physical disabilities are also increasing in number, in 2017, there were approximately 12,500 people with a physical disability, by 2035 this will increase to 14,600.

  • Individuals with Physical difficulties faced difficulty when being rehoused and often spend time in unsuitable accommodation.
  • There is need for developers to provide housing for people in wheelchairs and built to mobility standards (Cat 2 and 3 building regulations)

We’ve produced the Luton Housing Design Brief that incorporates accessible homes for all. We also support households with disabilities through disabled facilities grants and adaptations funding within council homes.

There are small numbers of people with sensory disabilities, known to the council services. There are:

  • 45 people known to having a visual impairment
  • 9 with a hearing impairment
  • 4 people are deaf
  • 3 people are dual diagnosis

People with visual and hearing impairments can benefit from support, sensitive housing design and assistive technology to live independently.

 

Download the Housing strategy 2019-22 (pdf/a)
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