Two-star rating for home award scheme

SHAUN LOWTHORPE A £16m scheme to give housing help to more than 17,000 people in Norfolk has been rated as good by watchdogs. The Audit Commission gave the Supporting People Programme a two-star rating and said it had "excellent" prospects for improvement.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

A £16m scheme to give housing help to more than 17,000 people in Norfolk has been rated as good by watchdogs.

The Audit Commission gave the Supporting People Programme a two-star rating and said it had "excellent" prospects for improvement.

The scheme was launched in April 2003 and is a national programme, which gives people the choice to receive support in their own home

or to move into supported accommodation.

The county council runs the programme in partnership with district councils, probation and primary health trusts. There are 157 services in Norfolk providing a wide range of housing-related support services such as refuges for women fleeing domestic violence, sheltered housing for older people, and support for young people moving into their first tenancy.

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Norfolk's programme was praised for having strong leadership and providing positive outcomes for service users. Services for vulnerable service users have been expanded and improved and services for traditionally excluded groups such as offenders and gipsies and travellers have been commissioned.

The report said: "The Supporting People team is effective and highly thought of and has good relationships with providers and stakeholders".

Chris Mowle, cabinet member for adult social services, said: "This is excellent news and endorses the fact that we fund good quality services for the benefit of vulnerable people in Norfolk. However, we are not complacent and we wish to improve services still further. The Audit Commission's judgment of the council's "excellent" prospects for improvement shows that they have full confidence in us doing so."

James Rolfe, chairman of the Supporting People Commissioning Body, said: "We are very pleased the Audit Commission has recognised the good work done in Norfolk and particularly pleased the report has highlighted the very strong contribution of all the partners."