Housing Services – information for providers & safeguarding practitioners

Housing staff have a key safeguarding role to play, alongside their colleagues in social care, health and the police, in keeping people safe. They are well placed to identify people with care and support needs, share information and work in partnership to coordinate responses.

SCIE have published a guide to raise awareness about safeguarding in the housing sector – this is for all housing staff, not just those in sheltered or supported housing. They have produced the guide in three versions – each written for a specific audience so providers can use the version that most closely links to their role.

Find the guides on the SCIE website at www.scie.org.uk/guide53 or use the links below:

The Housing and Safeguarding Adults Alliance brings together leading-edge housing providers to work alongside professional and trade body representatives, and partners in adult social care and health, to encourage, assist, promote and recognise the role and contribution of the housing sector in safeguarding adults.

For more information visit their website www.housinglin.org.uk/housing-networks/HASAA/

Registered Providers of Social Housing in Manchester
Registered Providers of social housing have responsibilities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and promote the well-being of adults to whom they provide services. They are particularly well placed to identify issues of abuse in the family home and in the wider community, having knowledge about local issues, alongside access to information about family finances and access to home environments.

Knowing when to be concerned and what might be significant in terms of the potential abuse of children and vulnerable adults is difficult. The training needs of staff will differ considerably but a whole organisation approach is essential to ensure there are systems in place to respond appropriately to concerns generated by heightened awareness amongst staff. Details of the multi-agency training available can be found on our training website.

The map below shows where the largest Registered Providers have stock in the city and includes their contact numbers. Where the colours are different to the key, this represents private sector including owner occupied and also other smaller Registered Providers.

The map is provided to serve as a visual aid/reminder for Children’s and Adult’s Services to consider who a clients housing provider is – Manchester Registered Providers of Social Housing Map (January 2018)

Registered Providers of social housing is the general name for not-for-profit housing providers approved and regulated by Government; the vast majority are also known as Housing Associations.

Housing Associations are independent, not-for-profit organisations that provide homes for people in housing need. They are now the UK’s major providers of new homes for rent. Many also run shared ownership schemes to help people who cannot afford to buy their own homes outright.

Safeguarding Adults

Statutory responsibilities for Housing Providers under the Care Act 2014 placed greater responsibility on social housing providers to protect vulnerable adults alongside their existing responsibility for safeguarding children. It set out a legal framework for how local authorities and other parts of the health and care system, including housing providers, should protect adults at risk of abuse or neglect.

Safeguarding is aimed at people with care and support needs who may be in vulnerable circumstances and at risk of abuse or neglect. In these cases, local services must work together to spot those at risk and take steps to protect them.

The Act introduced a legal framework so key organisations and individuals with responsibilities for adult safeguarding could agree on how they will work together and what roles they must play to keep adults at risk safe.

The Act was used as an opportunity to bring in more robust safeguarding duties, which had a range of potential consequences for social landlords and housing support providers.

The changes in legislation highlight six key areas of improvement:

  • empowerment
  • protection
  • prevention
  • proportionate responses
  • partnership
  • accountability.

In the past there have been difficulties faced by multi-agency boards due to struggling to obtain sufficient resources and engagement from other agencies. One of the biggest areas of change the Care Act introduced was the mandatory involvement of Housing Providers. Although they will be responsible for safeguarding, registered social landlords will not be statutory members of the local Safeguarding Adults Board (SAB).

The statutory guidance states that housing and housing support providers need to ensure that they have clear operational policies and procedures in adult safeguarding and that all staff are trained in recognising the symptoms of abuse and are able to respond to adult safeguarding concerns.

The Act also requires local authorities to make enquires, or ask others to make enquiries, when they think an adult with care and support needs may be at risk of abuse or neglect in their area and to find out what, if any, action may be needed. This applies whether or not the authority is actually providing any care and support services to that adult.

Information Sharing
The statutory guidance is clear that organisations must share information related to abuse or neglect. If a SAB requests information from an organisation or individual who is likely to have information which is relevant to their functions, they must share what they know with the SAB. For SAB’s to function there needs to be an agreed information sharing protocol across the area including all members. Individuals need to be made aware of this protocol and the consequences if not adhered to.

Safeguarding Children

Section 10 of the Children Act 2004 requires each local authority (including local housing authorities) to make arrangements to promote cooperation between the authority, each of the authority’s relevant partners (see Table A) and such other persons or bodies who exercise functions or are engaged in activities in relation to children in the local authority’s area as the authority considers appropriate. The arrangements are to be made with a view to improving the well-being of children in the authority’s area – which includes protection from harm and neglect alongside other outcomes.

Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 places duties on a range of organisations and individuals to ensure their functions, and any services that they contract out to others, are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Housing and homelessness services in local authorities are subject to the Section 11 duties set out in Working Together 2018. Professionals working in these services may become aware of conditions that could have an adverse impact on children. Under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004, authorities must take account of the impact of health and safety hazards in housing on vulnerable occupants, including children, when deciding on the action to be taken by landlords to improve conditions. Housing services also have an important role to play in safeguarding vulnerable young people, including young people who are pregnant, leaving care or a secure establishment.

Housing services should have in place arrangements that reflect the importance of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and these should include:

  • a culture of listening to children and taking account of their wishes and feelings, both in individual decisions and the development of services
  • a culture that enables issues about safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children to be addressed
  • arrangements which set out clearly the processes for sharing information, with other professionals and with the Local Safeguarding Partnership
  • a designated professional lead (or, for health provider organisations, named professionals) for safeguarding
  • safe recruitment practices for individuals whom the organisation will permit to work regularly with children
  • appropriate supervision and support for staff, including undertaking safeguarding training
  • clear policies for dealing with allegations against people who work with children.

Learning from Reviews
Published case reviews highlight that housing services often have a unique insight into the lifestyles of their tenants. They receive complaints from neighbours about behaviour and they conduct regular inspections of family homes. Because of this they may well know about a number of issues – including parental substance abuse, anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse and neglect – before other agencies.

The learning from these reviews highlights that housing services should consider the impact that tenants’ lifestyles and behaviour are likely to be having on their children. They should also provide support and advice to young people and families experiencing difficulties to prevent them falling into a recurring pattern of rent arrears, anti-social behaviour and eviction

The NSPCC have published a briefing which summarises the learning from case review reports. It is an analysis by the NSPCC Information Service, highlighting risk factors and key learning for improved practice – the briefing can be found on their website at www.nspcc.org.uk/case-reviews/learning/housing/



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