Consultants fail to up Liverpool rating

Liverpool’s Supporting People programme has been heavily criticised by inspectors, a little more than a year after the council brought in private consultants to help manage the scheme.

The Audit Commission found the city’s administration of the 43m programme was “poor” with “uncertain prospects for improvement”.

The follow-up inspection follows a similarly damning report last September. That provoked the council into hiring Robson Rhodes to provide interim management support, which has only recently changed to an advisory role.

But inspectors found the use of consultants had “not been as effective and focused as it ought to have been”, and providers were given “mixed messages” about who was actually running the programme.

Access to accommodation and move-on support was still a “major problem”, preventive services were “limited”, and services users and carers had not been effectively engaged, the report says.

The council’s five-year Supporting People strategy is described as “weak”, partnership working “under developed”, and no service reviews had been fully completed, it adds.

Robson Rhodes has also been contracted to manage Birmingham’s 52m Supporting People programme.

Tony Hunter, Liverpool’s executive director of social care and housing, said the council was not critical of Robson Rhodes. While the service had improved, it had not been enough to move from zero stars, he said.

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