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News Report Page 9 of 35
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City Council creates street lifestyles team in pilot project to reduce begging

LIVERPOOL City Council has put together a team to offer extra help to reduce street begging and address associated anti-social behaviour in the City centre. From July 2018 Officers from a number of agencies, including the Council and Merseyside Police will join together as part of the new Street Lifestyle Project. 

The aim of the project is to pilot a new way of working that encourages people who are begging on the streets to accept the support they need to help them to move away from this lifestyle. It is specifically focussed on helping those who are begging on the City streets, but who are not sleeping rough.

A Council report into the Street Lifestyles Project says that only a small number of people who are begging are also sleeping rough. However, many are doing it to fund an addiction or because they have other vulnerabilities. The report also suggests that some who are begging do so because they are being exploited by others.

The report acknowledges:- "There are environmental issues caused by the presence of this group of people in the City, for example the accumulation of bedding, cardboard and other items in shop doorways and other places."

By providing more support, the Council is also responding to the concerns of the public and City Centre businesses following reports of anti social behaviour, including:-aggressive behaviour and drug taking. This year the Council will invest more than ₤11m in preventing and addressing homelessness and supporting rough sleepers. However, there has been no dedicated service for people who are begging, until now.

Cllr Lynnie Hinnigan, who is Liverpool City Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, said:- "Begging for coins to feed an addiction or to scrape together enough for something to eat is clearly a miserable existence and there should be no place for it in a modern, civilised society. We know many people feel strongly about this issue and want to see us taking action, but simply moving people on will not solve anything. It just means the problem will land on someone else's doorstep. It is only by working together to address the underlying reasons why people are begging will we see any progress. We want people to know that there is an alternative, help is available and we can provide a way out of this lifestyle."

The team will be a partnership including outreach workers, addiction specialists, additional street cleaning and officers from Merseyside Police. It will work in partnership with the Labre House rough sleeper night hub and The Whitechapel Centre.

Liverpool Community Superintendent Mark Wiggins from Merseyside Police said:- "We support the Street Lifestyles Project and its findings, and will continue to work closely alongside Liverpool City Council and other key partners to deal with this complex issue. We recognise that people on our streets need support and we are not looking to prosecute vulnerable people who simply need help. When they come into police contact we work closely with partners in the Local Authority and charitable organisations to try and get them the help they need and ensure they are treated fairly by making referrals to partners, who can offer advice, support and a pathway off our streets. However, if someone is acting aggressively or intimidating people, repeatedly coming to police attention or failing to engage in offers of support, then we can and do take appropriate action to protect all of our communities."

The Council launched its Always Room Inside campaign last year to ensure that no 1 in Liverpool needs to sleep rough. Since the opening of Labre House, in November, the number of rough sleepers has declined.

If you have concerns about someone who is sleeping rough, you can call the helpline number:- 0300 123 2041.

Improvements in keeping children safe

AN inspection of children's services in Liverpool has found it has made improvements, but cannot yet be rated as good. Ofsted officials spent 2 weeks embedded in the Local Authority during May 2018 examining scores of case files and meeting dozens of front line staff and managers.

They found that children at immediate risk of harm receive a:- "prompt and effective response" to ensure they are safeguarded, and there has been:- "sustained progress" in helping children who go missing or are at risk of exploitation.

Ofsted found that there needs to be a reduction in the high caseload that social workers have, which is having an impact on the quality of care assessments. This means that young people's needs are not always well considered through assessments and plans, and there can be a delay in having their needs met and risks reduced.

Their inspectors say the "majority" of children, including those waiting for adoption and care leavers, are in "stable placements" and have their lives improved as a result of being in care. However, some children are still in care when they don't need to be, and too many children are waiting for a permanent placement.

They have concluded there has been:- "purposeful and targeted progress" in work to keep children safe, and improving the early help provided to families needing support.

The instant response team which forms part of early help is praised for working with families to turn their lives around and prevent children being taken into care, while the 'highly skilled' disabled children's team is also singled out for:- 'strong planning and [providing] bespoke packages of support.'

Councillor Barry Kushner, Cabinet member for children's services, said:- "I welcome this report, which is a very accurate assessment of where we are as a Local Authority, and for me the key finding is that children in the City are safe. Although we're improving, we know we've still got a way to go, but what's crucial is we know how we are going to get there and have plans in place to address every single area identified by Ofsted for further development. We are prioritising reducing caseloads by recruiting 16 extra staff. Every day, our social work teams are going the extra mile to keep Liverpool's most vulnerable children safe and, for the most part, they are getting it right. Ofsted recognised this too.  Children's services across the country are under pressure as never before due to the rising number of children in care and the impact of austerity which has hit our budget and is causing more families to tip into crisis. When set against in this challenging context, I am pleased that we are making progress and am confident we will deliver further improvements."

The inspection report praises the Council's leadership team for an:- "honest and accurate self assessment" and they conclude they have:- "a very clear understanding of issues and improvements needed." It adds:- "The Local Authority knows itself well and had already recognised most of the strengths and areas for improvement identified by inspectors during this inspection. "

Steve Reddy, Director of children's services, said:- "Since I was appointed in 2017, I have been hugely impressed by the effort and commitment of our staff to deliver the very best services to our young people. On a daily basis they are going over and above the call of duty, often in very difficult circumstances, to make life better for the children in our care. We are focusing very much on improving the support we provide to our social workers and we have already recruited new staff we are taking on to address the areas of most need. We are also going to be concentrating on supporting young people in care in to training and employment because the Council; a big employer which has links to many other organisations; is in a good position to offer them the opportunities they need and deserve."

The full Ofsted report can be read here:-


₤112 million - net budget.

₤21 million - additional funding spent by the Council in 2018/19 to meet demand pressures.

92,000 - children in the City.

1,200 (circa) - children in care.

353 - workforce.

45% of children living in the top 10% of most deprived communities.

11% rise in children in care last year.

No Children's Centres have closed in Liverpool.

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