Supported housing consultation published

Monday, 21 November 2016 - 3:42pm

Today the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Communities and Local Government published their consultation on the future of supported housing funding. 

This consultation, which has been eagerly anticipated since the Secretary of State’s ministerial statement on supported housing in September, explores some of the key issues and principles underpinning the proposed new system. This will help inform a more detailed funding model, which the Government has indicated will be published as a Green Paper in Spring 2017. This first stage of consultation is therefore a great opportunity for the sector to shape these early proposals to make sure that the more detailed model is fit for purpose.

The consultation document sets out the Government’s rationale and objectives in reforming the funding mechanism for supported housing. These include the introduction of Universal Credit and the desire for a more localised approach to oversight and improving outcomes in supported housing. Alongside the consultation, the Government has published a review of the supported housing sector.

The review looked at the scale and scope of the sector and found that:

  • at the end of 2015, there were approximately 651,500 accommodation-based supported housing units in Great Britain
  • the annualised cost of the supported housing sector that is covered by Housing Benefit across Great Britain at the end of 2015 was £4.12bn, approximately 17% of total Housing Benefit spend
  • approximately £2.05bn is spent in addition to Housing Benefit, mainly on support and care service

The consultation confirms the model outlined in the September ministerial statement, where from 2019/20 core rent and service charges will be paid up to the Local Housing Allowance rate through Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.

Local authorities will receive additional ring-fenced funding to ‘top-up’ this rate where necessary, given the additional costs of supported housing. It is intended this will give local authorities a greater role in commissioning supported housing and allow for better local join-up.

While the Government anticipates that this will work for the majority of supported housing services, the consultation also acknowledges that a different mechanism will be needed for short-term services, such as hostels and refuges. It invites suggestions as to how a model might work for these services. It also asks for input on four other issues:

  • The design of the local ring-fence and ensuring that all groups have fair access to funding locally
  • Clarifying what is expected from local stakeholders, including commissioning, planning and partnership arrangements
  • Oversight and assurance mechanisms to ensure value for money and high quality services
  • How best to balance local flexibility with certainty for providers

Further detail can be found in the consultation document. We will be actively consulting with members on these proposals and will be in touch in due course with further details. We would also urge members to make their own submissions to the consultation – the deadline is Monday 13 February 2017 and you can find out how to submit a response in the consultation documentation. If you have any initial thoughts you would like to share with the team, please email: paula.reid@homelesslink.org.uk