Numbers sleeping rough in York still too high

A council report reveals that the authority missed its target for reducing the numbers of rough sleepers in the City. It had hoped to reduce the number to no more than 12 but at the test date last November 18 were found on the streets. This was the same number as a year previously. (NB. Some rough sleepers refused offers of assistance)

There was better news for other classes of homeless, with the number accepted for rehousing being 97 in the year an improvement on the target of 100.

In addition, preventative work was undertaken in 752 cases.

The main reasons for people becoming homeless were:

  1. Parental exclusion / family licence terminations remain a major cause of homelessness
  2. The number of relationship breakdowns due to violence
  3. Homelessness because of the loss of Assured Shorthold Tenancies remains high.

The housing waiting list remains stable with, at 31/3/17, 1596 York people registered with North Yorkshire Home Choice.

306 Council houses became vacant last year in the City. 53 additional properties were built for social rent.

The report reveals that there are now 7 refugee Syrian families living in private rented accommodation in the City

The Council says that one of its housing priorities is to prioritise a “reduction in rough sleeping, street drinking and begging (in conjunction with Community Safety Hub) and explore need for day facilities and night shelter in light of rising numbers of rough sleepers and associated street drinking and begging”.

Help with Universal Credit for York residents offered by York Council

 

Ahead of Universal Credit rolling out for even more residents in York from 12 July, the council says it will support residents who need digital assistance and budgeting support with Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is a new benefit, handled by the Department for Work and Pensions, which helps people on a low income or not in work, meet their living costs. It combines six benefits, including housing benefit and working tax credit, into a single monthly payment.

Currently Universal Credit is only available to single jobseekers in York but from 12th July parents and couples, including people who can’t work because of their health, living in the city and making a new claim will also receive it.

Universal Credit is one of the biggest ever changes to the benefit system and this may cause people to be worried about what will happen to their benefits. People who need assisted digital support or personal budget support should contact the council’s benefits service on 551556 or to visit www.york.gov.uk.”

There are several changes to previous benefits with Universal Credit, including:

  • ·        payments are made in arrears once at the end of the month, rather than being paid every week.
  • ·        payments will go straight into a claimant’s bank account. This means people may need to set up their own direct debits for expenses like rent if it was paid directly to their landlord under the old Housing Benefit system.

Residents who want to claim Universal Credit who are unable to use the internet or don’t understand how to make the claim can contact the council on 01904 551556 to ask for help through Assisted Digital Support (ADS).

People who would like to claim Universal Credit but are having trouble opening a bank account or managing their money can contact the council on 01904 552044 to ask for help through Personal Budgeting and Support (PBS). PBS can help with budgeting and advice on finding a bank account as Universal Credit cannot be paid into a Post Office card account.

The council has also teamed up with South Yorkshire Credit Union Ltd to give tailored advice which could include consolidating any repayments into a single, more manageable account at a lower, fixed interest rate, rather than resort to unregulated lenders or loan sharks.

Private or council tenants or mortgage holders are welcome to take advantage of the scheme which aims to help people budget and manage any debts.

For more information about the rollout of Universal Credit in York visit www.york.gov.uk

Improving access to council services for York’s Deaf community

City of York Council will make it easier for members of the city’s Deaf community to access services from today (5 July 2017).

A new video interpreting service – called ‘InterpretersLive!’ – is being launched.

It means Deaf customers, who communicate using British Sign Language (BSL), will be able to contact the council through a BSL Sign Language interpreter.

Visitors to York’s customer services centre at West Offices will have immediate access to an interpreter with no prior appointment required.

People who do not wish, or are unable to, travel will be able to use the service face-to-face from the comfort of their own home, using a video relay system.

The new interpretation service means Deaf customers will have the same access to customer services as a hearing person would.

The council says it hopes the addition of a BSL interpreter will make life easier for people who traditionally may have struggled to get help and support.

Anyone who isn’t a BSL user will be offered alternative communication support.

Members of the Deaf community are invited to attend an event at West Offices on 20 July between 11.00 am and 1.00 pm.  Attendees will have the opportunity to see how this service will work and, to celebrate the launch of the service.  There will also be the opportunity for users to help inform future improvements to the way the service is delivered.The quickest and easiest way to register for the event is by signing up using this Eventbrite link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/british-sign-language-video-relay-interpretation-service-tickets-35533901857 .  If this is not possible, users should visit West Offices to register their interest.We advise booking early to avoid disappointment as spaces are limited.
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Independence Day gives young people with special educational needs a taste of their options

An opportunities fair will offer young people with special educational or additional needs a chance to research and plan what their next steps could be in work, training or education.

At Askham Bryan College on Independence Day – Tuesday 4 July – from 9:30am to 13:30pm, the council’s eighth fair will bring together workshops, discussions and advice on education, work, supported employment and leisure options in York for young people aged between 14 and 25.

At the fully-accessible event young people, family members and carers, will be invited to meet local colleges, organisations such as Mencap, United Response – which runs Cafe West at the council’s West Offices – Be Independent, Fit 2 Work, Inspire 2 Independence and Tang Hall SMART, all offering a wide variety of opportunities.
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Council confirms closure of Woolnough House elderly persons home

Woolnough House

 A Council statement reads, “as part of our drive to improve the quality and choice of care for older people in the city, we are consulting with residents of Woolnough House on its future.

Residents, their relatives and staff at one of City of York Council’s older people’s homes – Woolnough House – are being consulted on the option to close the home in late 2017, as part of plans to modernise accommodation for older people in the city.

The plans seek to address the needs of York’s fast-growing older population, by providing modern facilities which allow high quality care and quality of life. It also aims to make the best use of the city’s existing extra care housing, making it more accessible for people with higher care needs by increasing the support available at each venue and by replacing the council’s four out-dated older people’s homes, with more modern accommodation”.

The news comes as work nears completion on 25 new extra care apartments and two bungalows at Glen Lodge in Heworth.

Each of the council’s older people’s homes was assessed against a number of criteria to determine which homes should be consulted on for closure first.

Three older people’s homes – Grove House, Oakhaven and Willow House – closed in the past 17 months as part of the programme.
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More help for elderly/disabled promised by York Council

The York Council will be reviewing the amount of help that it is able to give needy home owners in York when it meets on 19th June.

Recommendations are being made on how increased funding,  totalling  £1.1 million, from the governments “Better Care Fund” will be allocated. This may mean some changes to the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) system.

Up to £30,000 can be loaned or granted to qualifying homeowners to make changes to allow disabled people to continue to live in their own homes. The grants have been means tested in the past but that will no longer be the case fro smaller grants in the future.

Typically the grants are spent on:

  • Facilitating access to and from the dwelling or building by the disabled occupant
  • Making the dwelling or building safe for the disabled occupant
  • Access to the principal family room by the disabled occupant
  • Access to or providing a bedroom for the disabled occupant
  • Access to or providing a room containing a bath or shower for the disabled occupant or facilitating the use by the occupant of such a facility
  • Access to or providing a room containing a WC for the disabled occupant or facilitating the use by the occupant of such a facility
  • Access to or providing a room containing a wash hand basin for the disabled occupant or facilitating the use by the occupant of such a facility
  • Facilitating the preparation and cooking of food by the disabled person
  • Improving or providing a heating system for the disabled person
  • Facilitating the use of power, light or heat by the disabled person by altering same or providing additional means of control
  • Facilitating access & movement around the dwelling to enable the disabled person to provide care for someone.
  • Access to gardens

The scope of qualifying works is now being extended to include hazard remedies (such as excess cold), undertaking electrical repair works to a home where a new level access shower or lift is provided and undertaking an asbestos survey and removal of any asbestos

The Council is also simplifying the application process and hopes to reduce the time interval between applications for assistance being made and adaptations being completed.

A more comprehensive guide to the help available can be found by clicking here

 

 

 

Lincoln Court garden gets volunteer uplift

 

Council agrees to improve refuse collection at elderly persons flats

Lincoln Court

Residents at the Lincoln Court elderly persons accommodation on Ascot Way recently asked local Councillors to sort out some issues for them. The issues were (with the Councils response in brackets where it has been received):

  1. Arrange, when the season is right, for the hedge on the boundary of the Lincoln Court gardens and Hob Moor School to be substantially reduced in height. Residents like to feel involved in the community and a view of the school playing fields reduces the sense of isolation. The hedge – which used to be trimmed regularly – also restricts the amount of natural light which Lincoln Court enjoys
  1. Arrange for the recycling bins to be emptied more frequently that the current 4/6 weekly cycle (Council has said that they will be done fortnightly in future)
  2. For the car park to be swept

    Hedges block view and light from flats

  1. For weed killer to be applied where necessary. Residents say that they could help with this.
  1. For additional parking space to be provided next to Windsor House. The Lincoln Court car park is frequently filled with vehicles not associated with the sheltered housing scheme. This makes it difficult for people visiting residents.
  1. Arrange for the gutters on the building to be cleared of debris. A particular problem on the conservatory roof. (The Council has said that the gutters will be cleared before the end of June)

Meanwhile the Council reports that, to begin a summer of gardening in national Volunteer Week, a group of young people who have experienced homelessness brushed up the Lincoln Court garden on Thursday..

The tenants at Lincoln Court, a City of York Council sheltered accommodation scheme in Acomb really value their garden, especially in the summer where it’s a great place to meet up with friends and have a chat.

Blocked gutters

So a year after a group of young people supported by staff spruced up the outdoor space, the Enable team has returned in national Volunteer Week (1-7 June) to maintain its good work and continued goodwill.

Enable is a collaboration between the council’s 60+ housing specialist service, Homebase and SASH, a supported lodging scheme for young people who have experienced homelessness.

Generously supported by Homebase which kindly supplies materials,over the past two years, Enable has made a real and lasting difference to the lives of older people with its 13 makeover challenges. These have included decorating, landscaping, weeding and planting; all designed to give the young people the skills they will need when they move into their own place.

Besides cutting back an undergrowth of ivy with the help of a resident, the team tidied up a wooden sitting arbour and laid bark and paving stones around it.

Martin Farran, corporate director of health, housing and adult social care at City of York Council, said: “Enable is an ingenious intergenerational skill share, where older and young people are brought together to benefit the community, share skills and get to know each other.

“Residents of our sheltered accommodation schemes benefit as do local young people and our thanks go out to them all for taking part and making these improvements.”

Gary Hogg, SASH active project co-ordinator, said: “We are very proud of Enable and the 14 projects that we have completed to date with Homebase and the council. It is a simple idea of people coming together to help each other. In doing so our young people are given the opportunity to learn new skills, increase their confidence and self-esteem, forge new friendships and be involved in the local communities in which they live. Homebase’s generosity in providing materials ensures this programme continues and we’re very grateful for their support.”

Mathew Brown, deputy store manager at Homebase, York, said: “Homebase York is very happy to support the great work done by SASH and will continue to do so into the future.”

York to be badly hit by “Dementia Tax”

The Tories plan to force sick elderly people to sell their homes to pay for care cost will affect York residents more than any other City in the country.

Figures released today suggest that, because of relatively high local house prices, 99% of those accessing care services would lose ownership of their homes.

Under the Tory plans, revealed when they published their General Election manifesto last week, the homes would be sold to pay off any care cost debt, when a patient died.

Tim Farron, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, has launched a national movement calling on people, irrespective of their party affiliation, to stop the Conservatives’ planned Dementia Tax.

It comes alongside Liberal Democrat research that reveals that across England, 9 out 10 homes could be eligible for sale to meet Theresa May’s Dementia Tax.

Tim Farron is writing to key organisations about the campaign, including David Cameron as President of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Writing to the leaders of leading health and older peoples’ charities, Tim Farron said:

“The measure of a Government is how they treat the most vulnerable in our society.  I don’t think that the Conservatives are unaware of the impact of their plans but they chose to ignore the human cost.

“Every elderly person that needs care should receive it in the best place for them and not be fearful of those mounting, limitless costs. I am determined that we ensure that Theresa May drops the so-called ‘Dementia Tax’ and implement a cap on the cost of care.

“Caring for our elderly must be above party politics and that is why I want to urge anyone who opposes the Conservatives’ plans to come together to stop it.

“We must resist this plan and challenge would-be Conservative MPs to reject and stop it.

“As a first step, I am urging people to sign up at dementiatax.org.uk  to help. I hope you will urge the supporters of your organisation to do the same. Together we can stop the so-called ‘Dementia’ Tax

Points

  • Across England, 9 out 10 homes could be eligible for sale to meet Theresa May’s Dementia Tax.  
  • This includes:
    • in the South East in Oxford, 98% homes could be liable
    • in London, Richmond upon Thames, only 7 out of 476 homes sold would be exempt
    • in the North West, Stockport, 92% of homes could be liable
    • This year to date only 1 home sold out of 356 in Theresa May’s local authority would be exempt
    • In the poorest 10 local authority areas, an estimated 50% of homes could be liable to meet the ‘dementia tax’
    • For instance;
    • The local authority with the lowest average salary (Blackpool), where 52% of homes could be liable

click to sign

Views of older people sought in York survey

City of York Council and its partners are asking for older people across the city for their views on how we as a city can keep them healthier, happier and more independent for longer.

The survey asks for answers and suggestions on a range of issues including; social life, health, their local community and how they access information.

The survey, which is open for comments until Tuesday 30 June, will be distributed by partners across the city. Residents will also be able to pick up a survey from any of the Explore Library Learning Centres across the city or take the survey online at www.york.gov.uk/consultations.

The last citywide older people’s survey was held in 2008 and led to some really positive outcomes following feedback from residents. These included the introduction of a handy person service, a toe nail cutting service, and the Age UK first call information service.

Martin Farran, corporate director of health, housing and adult social care said: “Older people bring a great deal of knowledge, skill and energy and contribute enormously to the city.

“We are interested to know how our older residents currently live, the issues they face and to hear ideas on how we can keep older people healthy, happy and independent for longer.”

George Wood, Chair of the Executive Committee from the York Older People’s Assembly said: “This is a real opportunity for older people across the City to have their voice heard and to impact in a very real way on the future planning of services.”

The survey is being conducted collaboratively between the York Older People’s Assembly, Age (UK) York, Healthwatch York, York Council for Voluntary Services, York Blind and Partially Sighted Society, York Alzheimer’s Society, the Vale of York CCG, the Police and Crime Commissioner and City of York Council.

For more information, or to take the survey online, visit www.york.gov.uk/consultations.