Report of Corporate Director for Communities, Environment and Resident Services
Jane Lewis, Community Safety Strategy Manager, presented the report and stated the following:
(i) the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 places a statutory duty on Tier 1 local authorities as of 1 April 2021. Acceptance of the grant detailed in the report will enable Nottingham City Council to fulfil the functions of the statutory duty on Tier 1 Local authorities relating to the provision of support to survivors of domestic violence and abuse and their children residing within safe accommodation (the ‘Statutory Duty’);
(ii) this Committee, at its October 2022 meeting, approved receipt of Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) funding grant (the ‘Grant Funding’);
(iii) a delegated decision has been completed to ensure the procurement of Community Based Services can be approved, and services delivered, from April 2023 whilst the Framework is being completed. A delegated decision was completed in May 2021 which included approval for 1xFTE NCC post to deliver the Statutory Duty. This report and both decisions ensure that the full ring fenced grant from DLUHC will be spent appropriately;
(iv) approval is being sought to add this Grant Funding to the existing three 9-year refuge contracts, due to end in March 2028, to fund children’s workers and support costs;
(v) approval is also sought to align the Central Women’s Aid refuge contract terms and conditions with the other 3 existing refuges contracts via the Grant Funding. This would ensure that the Central Women’s Aid refuge was funded on an equitable basis with the others with the same break clauses in place. This would also facilitate NCC to be in a better position to re-procure all the refuges at the same time when the contracts end in March 2028;
(vi) the budget includes a 3% cost of living increase previously proposed. This is in line with the cost of living increase awarded by DLUHC and will ensure that the services receive an increase in line with the amount allocated through the ring fenced DLUHC domestic abuse budget. It is anticipated that DLUHC will slightly increase the funding for services year on year.
(1) approve expenditure of the grant funding for the delivery of services, under a compliant legal and procurement process, as detailed in appendix 1;
(2) delegate authority to the Corporate Director of Communities, Environment and Resident Services to award and sign off contracts and variations, in compliance with the Councils contract procedural rules, to deliver the refuge services to enable ongoing compliance with the Statutory Duty set out in the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.
Reasons for recommendations
(i) To enable delivery of the Statutory Duty as outlined in the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.
(ii) To add the Grant Funding to the existing 9-year refuge contracts, due to end in March 2028. The funding is for children’s workers and additional support costs for survivors in accommodation associated with each refuge under the hub and spoke model. Children and young people form the largest population in a refuge and range from 0 – 16 in age.
(iii) The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and Statutory Duty has defined children as survivors in their own right for the first time and so funding for these posts is core to the service that should be offered by refuge. Childrens Workers are identified in the Service Specifications of each refuge, however the funding for these posts was previously unstable and funded intermittently through the partnership. Funding the posts through the Statutory Duty Grant Funding creates stable and long term funding for services for these child survivors.
(iv) The accommodation associated with the refuges was funded through a Home’s England bid on behalf of NCH and NCHA. Each refuge has approx. 3 houses providing a hub and spoke model and increasing the bed spaces available for referral from Housing Aid and the Nottingham 24-hour crisis DSVA helpline. The Statutory Duty Grant Funding shall also fund the additional support costs delivered by the refuge for the additional bed spaces.
Other options considered
(i) DLUHC has indicated that failure to spend will result in reduction of future awards. Continuation of current services will ensure that support for the most vulnerable is provided in a recognised and timely manner.
(ii) The Needs Assessment submitted to DLUHC sets out the requirement for additional refuge spaces. Tendering out the Central refuge service at this point may risk the delivery of the successful complex needs refuge for survivors with Severe and Multiple Disadvantage (SMD) at a time when SMD is a priority for the Health and Wellbeing Board and DSVA is a priority for the Crime and Drugs Partnership.
(iii) A review the option of delivering children’s workers externally to refuge was undertaken in 2005 and in 2018 respectively and on both occasions it was concluded that for all the services that refuges offer to children including safeguarding, play, support to access education, health, child advocacy to work effectively, it was preferable and considered necessary for children’s workers to continue to be integral to the refuge team.