SOUTHEND Council is bearing the burden of a “significant” number of people with disabilities and mental health problems being sent to the city by London boroughs and elsewhere in Essex.

The “supported living” scheme provides people with a learning disability, autism or mental health diagnosis with homes and care funded via the housing benefit and the adult social care budget.

Social care spend on supported living for 230 people in Southend in 2022/23 was £8.6 million.

However, a report to the council’s people scrutiny committee said this is “in part driven by a significant amount of out-of-area placements, predominantly from Essex and London”.

It follows reports Southend Council had worked with an investigative journalist to find out how many homeless people were being sent to the city by London boroughs.

Daniel Nelson, councillor responsible for public health and adult social care, confirmed providing the service from people outside the city was “a strain on our services”.

He said: “Unfortunately, we’re limited in the powers we can use to deal with it.

“My understanding is that those in supported living that come from other boroughs, I do believe there is some sort of requirement for them to provide us with some sort of financial support.”

The council is about to agree a new strategy for providing supported living and has recommended 22 providers be awarded contracts to provide care.

Mr Nelson added: “The report is about awarding a new contract, which is something that hasn’t happened before. Previously, the council was basically being told rather than asked so this is a change the administration has made.”

Daniel Cowan, leader of the Labour Group, said: “The provision of such services are growing problem nationally and places like Southend that do work in certain areas such as supported living and homelessness, it then makes us an easy option for other authorities to direct their vulnerable residents to.

“We need to be doing is working more closely with these councils to understand what kind of formal relationship we could have so we’re not just having people dumped on us.”