What do we hope to achieve?
Everyone in Luton can access homes which support their independence and wellbeing across the life course. Longer term needs of older people and people with disabilities or care needs are anticipated.
Where housing with support is required, this is planned well in advance and commissioned in partnership. Co-production supports good design and service delivery. Housing is a central part of tackling health inequalities and achieving Marmot Town status for Luton. The council will create opportunities for investment into specialised housing which meets local needs.
Housing is a significant determinant of good health. Good quality, secure and genuinely affordable housing is the basis from which residents can achieve their full potential. Indeed, for some people, access to the right accommodation and services can be a matter of life or death; and to assert their human rights.
The experience of the Covid-19 pandemic showed at a national level, and locally, that poor housing plays a large role in reducing wellbeing. This was supported by the findings of the Talk, Listen, Change project examining disproportionate impacts of Covid on ethnic minority communities in Luton. Some specialist needs grew during the Covid pandemic as a result of lockdowns and social isolation.
For some cohorts, specialist housing provision is an essential part of an independent and healthy life. The Social Care White Paper in November 2021 stated “every decision about care is also a decision about housing”. We currently have a range of specialist housing and services in the town in the town which address the needs of:
- children leaving care
- people living with physical disabilities, sensory disabilities, learning disabilities and mental ill-health
- migrants, refugees and people with no recourse to public funds (NRPF)
- people experiencing or fleeing domestic abuse
- people with a history of offending behaviour
- people that have faced multiple exclusion and homelessness
- older people who are in need of some support
Our corporate commitment to children and young people and role as a corporate parent make housing provision for children leaving care an essential ongoing part of that responsibility.
A study by Campbell Tickell on behalf of the BLMK Transforming Care Partnership identified a likely additional demand of 98 units of specialist accommodation in Luton for people with learning disabilities between 2018 and 2023; primarily supported housing.
A study of older person’s housing needs in Luton indicated a requirement by 2030 of 711 specialist homes, comprising 134 age exclusive, 468 sheltered and 109 extra care homes.
Luton Council updated its Market Position Statement in 2021 which included a target to support people to live independently at home as long as sensibly possible, and to ensure that Luton has the right supply of appropriate housing and accommodation for its changing demographic.
The Housing Strategy will support the delivery of the Market Position Statement, especially in relation to reducing out of borough placements, supporting hospital discharge and providing aspirational independent living options which make the best use of land availability and new technology.
Respondents to our housing strategy consultation were very supportive of delivering specialist accommodation with over 40% saying this was a priority for the town.
We have been improving our joint working with Adult Social Care, Public Health and the NHS and this has improved the opportunity to meet physical and mental wellbeing outcomes through housing projects.
New commissioned services will be in place in 2023 which support a refresh of the accommodation offer for independent living, and improve the opportunity for partnerships.
Finding an appropriate aspirational housing offer for older people is a challenge but also presents an opportunity to free up family sized homes of all tenures and ensure that older people are part of new emerging neighbourhoods.
Respondents to our housing strategy survey supported the delivery of homes for older people (40%), people with disabilities (13%) and specialist housing (25%) of which demand for specialist housing for people with mental health needs was strongest.
We are building joint working with Children’s Services to ensure better transitions for young people into independent living. We aim to provide improved support and training for tenancy sustainment and a commitment to care leavers to maintain a housing offer.
Our role as a landlord supports a range of specific client groups and broader wellbeing. For example, our Healthy Estates strategy, support for smoke free buildings and involvement in providing accommodation for housing first clients. Our adaptations service supports independent living across the town, helping people to live well at home.
We have an in-house assistive technology function which can act as a base for various additional services beyond a lifeline option. The digitalisation of all telecare in the next 5 years presents a very significant operational challenge which we need to prepare for, but provides a basis for extending services from a new digital platform.
Our multi-agency approach means that housing contributes to wider ambitions such as reducing reoffending, preventing domestic abuse and supporting survivors of abuse and exploitation.
We are an active partner within Luton’s Domestic Abuse Partnership Board and are working towards Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) accreditation. This will improve our policies, practice and partnerships in respect of understanding and meeting the needs of people experiencing domestic abuse.
Luton has recently experienced a very dynamic population change which makes longer term demographic trends harder to predict. However, our most vulnerable residents are least likely to move out of the borough which means we can focus on the needs of service users known to us over the long term.
Collaboration with the voluntary sector and directly with the local community can help to shape services. The Fairness Taskforce has the potential to ensure that Luton is a truly equitable place which includes a better deal for people who may be more vulnerable or marginalised, including opportunities for younger people to access appropriate housing.
Housing is an essential element of our work to reduce health inequalities, which means that our activities create an opportunity to improve collaboration. Our work with the UCL Institute of Health Equity on becoming a ‘Marmot Town’ has pointed to an estimated 3,700 people in Luton experiencing unsatisfactory housing conditions, a figure which has doubled over ten years.
The review also highlighted the prevalence of privately rented homes and temporary accommodation, poor housing quality and cold homes as actively impacting on wellbeing in the town, meaning that work to tackle these problems will support our ambitions to improve health equity.
The focus on place, growth and tackling health inequalities from the newly established BLMK integrated care system provides a welcome opportunity to consider wellbeing as part of the built environment and learn from partners across the BLMK area.
We will publish action plans setting out how we will identify appropriate sites near to facilities and deliver specialist accommodation to meet specialist needs; including people with Learning disabilities and autism, young people transitioning from Children’s Services, care leavers, people with mental health and complex needs, and older people.
We will collaborate with partners on tenancy information and sustainment projects for young people leaving care.
We will support Children’s Services in the provision of specialist step up and step down accommodation. We will complete the programme of refurbishment of our sheltered housing schemes.
We will consult with tenants in sheltered housing as part of a review of staffing and services with options around more active on-site staffing with a broader role. These options will also be considered in light of HRA resources and the impact on costs to tenants.
We will increase partnership working with health services to target support in line with the frailty framework. Satisfaction with adaptations at 95% or above.
We will work with partners including Adult Social Care to improve advice and information for older people about housing options, and explore all opportunities to develop specialist senior living accommodation, including extra care where required.
Delivery of specialist accommodation for mental health and complex needs. ATS to be active in developing assistive technology options for people.
Achieve Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) accreditation by 2023, and work closely with DA Board partners to tackle and respond to domestic abuse across the town.
We will collaborate with partners in the criminal justice system to support housing solutions to help reduce reoffending.
We will grow and commit to established and new partnerships which support the physical and mental wellbeing of residents.