Headlines: July 21st, 1998

A new Audit Commission report which states that housing authorities are struggling to cope with changing and rising demand suggests that better partnership working at local and national would provide better services.

The picture is not one of consistent under-performance. The worst performing authorities could learn from the best practice established by others. Way of improving practice include:

•Ensuring that government departments work together to achieve the aims of community care, and that there is clarity about ‘who does what’.

•Targeting funds where they are most needed and helping authorities direct funding towards economic and effective preventative support.

•Regulating the standards of care and support in specialised housing and at home, to protect the most vulnerable.

Andrew Foster, Controller of the Audit Commission, said: “Government and local authorities need to build more effective partnerships so that vulnerable people are not left ‘home alone’ struggling to cope with everyday tasks. Councils, housing associations and health bodies should continue to work together to improve the service, supported by central government.”

“Suitable accommodation and support for vulnerable people is a cornerstone of care in the community. But help is not being targeted to where need is greatest, frail people are waiting too long for vital work, and co-operation between the different agencies involved in this area is patchy”.