Councillors back bold new strategies to tackle social care and homelessness in challenging times

Neath Port Talbot councillors have endorsed three new strategic plans to address issues in housing and homelessness, adult social care and children and young people’s social care.

Neath Port Talbot Council, which prioritises support for children and vulnerable adults, is facing a ‘perfect storm’ of funding pressures, growing demand, ongoing legacy impacts of Covid, inflation and the cost of living crisis.

On January 25th, 2024 the council’s Social Services, Housing and Community Safety Cabinet Board endorsed the following new strategies containing plans to ‘do things differently’ using assistive technology, home adaptations and other innovations:

Housing and Homelessness Strategic Plan 2024/27 (A Place to Call Home) – It aims to prevent homelessness, increase access to appropriate, affordable housing and to support people with social care needs to live well in their communities. There has been a 108% increase in households requiring temporary accommodation due to becoming homeless since 2019/20, if demand continues to rise then by 2027/28 we could see 2,233 households become homeless each year at a cost to the council of £4.4m. The reasons for homelessness are complex and this plan aims to reduce homelessness by delivering more preventative support for households, alongside supporting those who become homeless to access a new home quickly. As well as supporting those at risk or experiencing homelessness, this plan also looks to support our wider communities by increasing access to affordable housing. This includes working closely with social landlords to develop new affordable homes and the council obtaining its own portfolio of housing stock for the first time in more than a decade.

Link to strategy: https://democracy.npt.gov.uk/documents/s94603/App.1%20Housing%20and%20Homelssness%20Plan%202024.pdf

The Cabinet Board also approved a new Adult Social Care Strategy 2023-26 (Living the Life I Want) to “help people help themselves” by supporting unpaid carers, promoting assistive technology, building relationships and using more prevention and early intervention as well as encouraging volunteering.

Demand for adult social services is huge. There are now more than 2,150 adults receiving one or more social care services, including nearly 900 in residential/nursing care, 700 receiving domiciliary care, 400 in receipt of direct payments, around 400 adults with a learning disability, more than 100 with a mental health condition and 150 with a physical disability receiving some form of external care and support. The council will spend around £99m this year delivering Adult Social Care. The strategy also involves Glynneath’s Trem y Glyn Care Home coming back into council management with a new role in rehabilitation as well as residential care.

Link to strategy

:https://democracy.npt.gov.uk/documents/s94657/ASC%20Strategy%20Cabinet%20Report%20250124.pdf

At the same meeting, the Cabinet Board approved the Children and Young People Social Care Strategic Plan 20-23-2026 (Valuing our children’s future) to help create an environment that works for all children, young people and families in which the council will co-create, co-produce and commission services for children, young people and families, ensuring they get the right support at the right time.

Link to strategy : https://democracy.npt.gov.uk/documents/s94716/Appendix%201%20-%20Childrens%20Services%20Strategic%20Plan%202023-26.pdf

Council Deputy Leader Cllr Alun Llewelyn, speaking of the new Housing and Homelessness Strategic Plan said: “This will help address a housing crisis which is not only affecting this county borough and Wales but also the UK as a whole. We will also continue to make the case for social housing here to be properly funded by central government.”

Councillor Jo Hale, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Services and Health said: “Increasing demand and tightening budgets will add pressures onto services. It’s therefore vital we make the best use of resources to meet people’s needs. This means focusing on delivering services differently to prevent delay and needs from escalating; as well as delivering and commissioning the services people need in the most cost-effective way.”

Councillor Sian Harris, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, added: “There are more than 142,000 people living in NPT. It is estimated around 28,200 of these are under 18. The council spends more than £23.3m, about 6.9% of its total budget, on Children’s Social Care. This strategy will have a collaborative approach and will aim to empower the voices of children, families and communities.”