Citizens Advice to get £12,000 boost for York residents financial advice and support services

 City of York Council is to consider funding an extra £12,000 for Citizens’ Advice York (CAY) so it can run additional drop-in help and advice sessions relating to universal credit.

The offer of the money – which is expected to be ratified at a decision session for the executive member for health and adult social care next week (14 September) – will enable the charity to reinstate two, half-day, advice ‘surgeries’ each week for six months.

The sessions had been threatened because of a shortfall in Citizens’ Advice income.

Demand for help is likely to increase with the further roll-out of universal credit across York.

Universal credit is a monthly payment for people who are on low incomes or out of work and is being introduced in stages nationwide.

An accelerated roll-out started in York in July and will affect most new claimants from this month onwards.

City of York Council has long-supported the work of Citizens’ Advice York and provides an annual grant of £122,500 so it can offer financial advice and support to residents.

The council’s cash contribution has been maintained at the same level for several years, despite budget pressures.

It has also pledged an extra £100,000 over two years from its ‘improving finances, improving lives’ fund to pay for additional services including a Citizens’ Advice debt support worker and GP surgery-based advice sessions.

Councillor Carol Runciman, who has responsibility for financial inclusion, said:

The introduction of universal credit is a significant issue for many people in York.

“I’m very keen to make sure our residents have access to the information and advice they require when major changes are being made to benefits.

“I am delighted we are able to support the charity’s work with a potential funding boost to secure the future of the additional drop-in advice sessions.”

 

New elderly persons homes planned for Clifton plus changes for services for adults with learning disabilities

Burton Stone community centre to be demolished

New community facilities and 33 new homes for older people could be built in Clifton.

The homes include the city’s first available to buy for shared ownership on a council-built care scheme. This proposed £6.667 million scheme will meet increasing need for extra care for the city’s growing number of older residents and replaces an existing community centre.

The 29 new extra care apartments and four two-bedroomed bungalows would be built as an annexe to the Marjorie Waite Court extra care scheme. Up to ten homes could be sold on a shared equity basis, helping older homeowners – 80% of whom own their own home in York – to move to more appropriate accommodation.

It forms part of the council’s programme to increase high quality accommodation with care for rising population of older people, as agreed in June 2015.

The scheme’s tenants, local residents and groups using the Burton Stone Community Centre site were consulted on and their feedback has helped shape the proposal.

Besides using the land currently occupied by Burton Stone Community Centre to extend the extra care scheme, new community facilities will be built to meet the needs of local people, groups and Marjorie Waite Court tenants. Some of the existing users of the Burton Stone centre will move to new facilities in Burnholme, Tang Hall.

City of York Council’s Executive will also be asked to give their consent for the council to go out to the market to procure support providers that will deliver services for adults and young people with learning disabilities when they meet on Thursday 31 August.

At their meeting Executive will be asked for their consent to go out to tender for two schemes, a day base at the Burnholme health and wellbeing campus and a short breaks service, currently at Flaxman Avenue.

If they agree, Executive will be asked to delegate the award of the tenders to the corporate director of health, housing and adult social care in consultation with the executive member for health, housing and adult social care.

If approved, the day base will be part of the new Burnholme health and wellbeing campus, where building work is currently ongoing. The site, as a whole, will see over £35m of public and private sector investment and provide care, health, community and sports facilities as well as new housing and is expected to be ready in 2018.
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Sycamore House reopens after £326,000 refurbishment

 A new multi-purpose centre has opened today (Monday 24 July) after a £326,000 refurbishment of the old Sycamore House building.

The refurbished building, to be (imaginatively) called 30 Clarence Street, will be the new city centre facility providing a range of services for residents young and old.

30 Clarence Street will be the new location for young people’s services, previously delivered from Castlegate, and will provide a drop-in and specialist advice, guidance and support service for young people age 16-18 who are not in education, employment and training. Confidential counselling for young people aged 16-25, and information signposting to services for a range of advice from health matters, relationships, housing and benefits, learning and working will also be available.

The adults’ mental health recovery service will also be based at 30 Clarence Street and will offer support, advice and, guidance to residents who are referred to it. As well as this support, people will also be able to access training and placement schemes, working on reception or in the cafe, to help them develop their skills and confidence.

Residents will be able to enjoy the refurbished Explore reading café where they can browse a range of books, meet friends, socialise and enjoy a cuppa.

The council is also leasing office space on the first floor of the building to York Mind and York Pathways and, given the links between these organisations and the services operating from the ground floor, this arrangement will help facilitate even closer working relationships between the voluntary and community sector, the council and health services.

Later in the year, the building will also welcome ‘The Haven’, an evening service will provide a safe and supportive environment for people experiencing mental distress. Open 6pm – 11pm, 7 days a week, ‘The Haven’ will offer a welcome to anyone needing it and will be run by specialist mental health services.

The opening of ‘The Haven’ was made possible after City of York Council and partners in the North Yorkshire and York crisis care concordat successfully bid for £178,000 of Department for Health funding to support the initiative. City of York Council has provided the other £148,000 of funding for the refurbishment of 30 Clarence Street.
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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.”