New Northumberland supported living accommodation planned for people with learning difficulties or long-term mental health conditions

New supported living accommodation for those with learning disabilities or enduring mental-health conditions is to be developed in north Northumberland.

By Ben O'Connell
Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 4:16 pm
County Hall, Morpeth
 Picture by Jane Coltman
County Hall, Morpeth Picture by Jane Coltman

At its meeting on Tuesday, December 8, the decision-making cabinet agreed to buy the leasehold of a site on Walkergate in Berwick from the county council’s own regeneration company, Advance Northumberland, for £180,000.

However, at least some of this expenditure is set to be recouped, because the plan is to sell it on to a development partner.

This partner, to be appointed ‘through a competitive process’, would then develop an independent supported living scheme of approximately 10 to 12 one-bedroom, purpose-built flats to support people with learning disabilities and/or enduring mental-health conditions.

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They would then own and manage the properties, while the local authority would determine how they are allocated and commission care from the end provider.

The report to the meeting noted that because the ‘the priority is in meeting the long-term needs of the client group and meeting an increasing demand, the evaluation will be based on the proposal’s ability to meet the council’s requirements’. This means that the full £180,000 may not be recovered.

However, whatever the shortfall is and therefore the council’s contribution, this is considered acceptable given that ‘all indicators suggest an increased demand for supported living services, coming from three broad areas’.

These are young people with disabilities entering housing and support services; people with disabilities who have been in accommodation and support for some time whose needs are changing and they need to move; and older people with disabilities living with family or independently that require supported living because of a change in circumstances or increased need.

The authority keeps a register of referrals for adults aged 18 to 64 who require this type of accommodation, with 102 currently on the waiting list, including 32 in the north of the county.

The report adds: ‘There are limited options for independent supported living in the north of the county and there are no vacancies in any of the current services.

‘The impact of Covid 19 on developers and housing providers is exacerbating the difficulties in bringing projects forward that will meet this need.’

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