The Committee considered the following report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues
1.1 The purpose of this report is to provide an outline in relation to funding received in-year across partners to support the scaling up of the Complex Lives (CL) approach, to highlight the limited timeframe in relation to being able to fully allocate/spend and, therefore, to seek Committee approval to create a reserve to assist with the recruitment and retention of required posts and maximise spend in-year and on in 2023/24 whilst partners are confirming budgets for next year.
2.1 The Committee is asked to:
i. approve the creation of a dedicated Complex Lives reserve, to be held and administered within City and Neighbourhood Services Department; and
ii. note that work is ongoing with statutory and community and voluntary partners via the relevant structures (i.e. Strategic Leadership Group – meets quarterly, and the CL Steering Group – meets monthly) to identify and agree in-year spend priorities, progress with recruitment in-year, and to seek budget allocation for 2023/24.
3.0 Main Report
3.1 The Committee will be aware that the Council is leading, alongside a range of partners, in developing the Complex Lives whole system approach to better support individuals impacted by chronic homelessness in the City. The design of the model has been informed by proven approaches developed in Doncaster and aims to help a core group of vulnerable people who are locked in a cycle of rough sleeping with repeated accommodation breakdowns, who have poor physical and mental health, drug misuse issues, offending behaviour, often impacted by past and ongoing trauma.
3.2 The Belfast Complex Lives model commenced its prototyping phase in October 2021, following a period of collective agreement and joint development work. The agreed timeline was for the prototyping to run for six months, to the end of March 2022, and then to roll out/mainstream the model from April 2022 onwards, making any necessary tweaks or adaptations based on learning from the trial and test period.
3.3 Whilst much has been achieved in relation to improved relationships and processes across partners and in relation to outcomes for individuals, the ability to scale up the model from early 2022 as planned has been impacted upon the ability of partners to leverage in additional funding.
3.4 Negotiations and follow up across partners took place between April and September, 2022 to secure the £350k annual budget required to scale up the approach (this includes recruitment of up to 6 Intensive Support Workers, a Coordinator and a Project Support post alongside case management and outcomes monitoring systems and ongoing strategic advisory support via Marsh Public Service Solutions who were instrumental in developing the Doncaster model and who have been assisting throughout).
3.5 In-year funding was confirmed at the October 2022 meeting of the Strategic Leadership Group (SLG), with a total of £277k committed from a number of core/key partners including DfC PCSP, PBNI, PHA, PSNI, NIHE, PHA – as well as the Council.
3.6 The fact that funding awards were confirmed so late in the financial year presents challenges in being able to ensure full in-year allocation and spend – particularly given that a substantial amount of this funding was to recruit posts (as noted in paragraph 3.4). Therefore, a key ask at the SLG meeting was for partner organisations to be as flexible as possible in terms of taking forward in-year actions/priorities and to request if there would be any ability to carry over committed funding into next year as a specified reserve (with all necessary caveats built in) to enable the appointment of key support posts on a 1-year basis rather than on a 3-4 month basis, as the latter would obviously impact on the attractiveness and likelihood of filling these core posts.
3.7 Partners with a responsibility for commissioning, are now currently engaging internally to check whether their in-year funding allocations could be utilised in this manner, and in the interim, it was agreed that officers would seek permission to create a dedicated reserve to facilitate this – hence the report to this Committee. Delivery organisations are progressing with recruitment on a temporary basis with a possibility of extension – and commission organisations, including BCC, are also working through internal budgeting processes for 2023/24 – it is therefore hoped that having a reserve will enable us to continue to fund posts and actions into early 2023/24 ensuring continuity and that momentum is maintained. The SLG is due to meet again on 17th January, 2023 and will review the current and future financial position, and the Complex Lives Steering Group continues to meet monthly to progress and review actions.
Financial and Resource Implications
3.8 All funding – BCC (58k) and Partners (218k) has been confirmed for 2022/23. Each organisation is progressing with recruitment and other related actions. The proposal is that any remaining funding, where partners attain necessary approvals, be held in a dedicated reserve for Complex Lives.
Equality or Good Relations Implications/
Rural Needs Assessment
3.9 There is set criteria for being nominated for consideration for support via the Complex Lives model and agreed processes for case management and provision of wraparound support. Many of the individuals who benefit are from S75 groups, and as part of the process, are directly involved in making decisions about their care and support needs.”
The Committee adopted the recommendations.