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Use district council data to assess housing needs, ICBs told

Use district council data to assess housing needs, ICBs told
By Jess Hacker
11 July 2023

Local councils have ‘more extensive’ links to local communities than most ICB partners, The King’s Fund has said, with systems urged to better utilise their exclusive data and insights.

This would see ICBs using councils’ data to identify concerns around housing needs and other wider determinants of health, they said.

In a report – Driving better health outcomes through integrated care systems – researchers found there was a widely held view that district councils are more likely to have closer contact and better relationships with people with complex needs.

Interviews with ICB employees and council leaders in four ICB areas also revealed that district councils are understood to have ‘huge amounts of data and information’ about the local population that the rest of the system ‘simply does not have’ – including on housing and local economies.

The report said: ‘Bringing this information into ICSs and their associated structures allows for better planning and targeting of services, so that they can have greater impact, be more inclusive and responsive to local concerns.’

The King’s Fund pointed to three examples of district council ‘healthy housing’ initiatives, which include:

  • Lancaster City Council’s Home Improvement Agency (HIA) developing an ‘integrated

adaptation service’ to help get patients back into their homes from hospital and keep them out of care

  • A social housing regeneration project – run by Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council – that supports access to improved and affordable housing, which is associated with greater health and employment opportunities
  • Temporary accommodation pods set up by North Devon District Council to house rough sleepers.

The King’s Fund said: ‘What these examples demonstrate is that district councils can make an important contribution to meeting immediate priorities as well as longer-term goals.

‘Their influence over the wider determinants of health can help ICSs meet some of the pressing challenges currently facing the NHS, including long waiting lists for elective treatment and delays in being able to discharge people from hospital back to the community.’

The King’s Fund also advised ICBs to ‘hold district councils to account’ for delivery on prevention plans with means of monitoring their progress.

They also advised ICBs to create ‘opportunities for district councils to lead’ by ensuring that the voice of district councils is listened to throughout ICS governance processes.

Interviews took place across: Lincolnshire; Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland; Norfolk and Waveney; and Suffolk and North East Essex.

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