Supported housing - next steps: more oversight and transparency

Tuesday, 14 August 2018 - 4:35pm

Following last week’s announcement on supported housing funding, our focus now turns to how we can help the Government develop an oversight regime that works for our members. 

Group of people in supported housing accommodation
Photography by Ian Cuthbert

Last week, the Government announced its long-awaited response to the consultation on the future funding of supported housing. Along with many others in the sector, we welcomed the Government’s decision to retain funding (for rental costs) for supported housing within the benefits system.

Through our consultation events, meetings and one-to-one conversations, members and our Expert Panel told us they would prefer a model for short-term supported housing that retains funding for housing costs within the benefits system. Working together ensured that we presented a strong case to Government of the potential impact of their original proposals, and we are pleased that the Government listened to and acted on members’ concerns.  

Our focus is now on working with our members, and the wider sector, to support the Government to:

  • increase the level of oversight and transparency for supported housing
  • gain a better understanding of the sector, including the role of housing support.

Increasing oversight and transparency of the sector

Our meeting with the Homelessness Minister, Nigel Adams MP, revealed concerns about the lack of evidence the Government has on the level of transparency, oversight on quality and value for money of the supported housing sector. While the Government recognises the vital role the sector plays contributing to the protection of some of the most vulnerable in society and the high standards demonstrated by most providers, their priority is to ensure the sector is delivering positive outcomes and representing value for money.

The Government has said they will work with providers, local authorities, membership bodies and resident representatives over the coming months to put together a sound and robust oversight regime. This will cover all forms of supported housing (i.e. short-term, long-term and sheltered and extra care housing), building upon the draft National Statement of Expectation released as part of the consultation in October 2017.

Because Homeless Link are proud of the quality of services and support our members provide, and of the positive outcomes achieved for many vulnerable people, we welcome this approach.

We will work with our members, our sector partners, and wider stakeholders, to inform the Government’s design of a future oversight regime. A part of this work, Homeless Link, the National Housing Federation, and Women’s Aid recently wrote to the Minister emphasising the sector’s willingness to engage in this work and highlighted the need for consideration of the existing regulations and controls that are already in place.

Initial discussions with our National Advisory Council emphasised that any new system should not be onerous on providers, and should work with, or leverage, existing oversight measures and recognise the diversity of the sector, possibly with a set of broad national standards and local implementation.

We are interested to hear your thoughts and insights about how enhanced oversight of quality and value for money can be achieved, including:

  • the operation of existing regulatory regimes
  • examples of existing quality frameworks used for support or housing
  • value for money evidence
  • what factors should be taken into account in enhancing the level of oversight
  • what an enhanced oversight regime could look like.

A better understanding of the sector

Alongside enhanced oversight, the Government is keen to gain a better understanding of the supported housing sector. In its response to this consultation, and in the recently published Rough Sleeping Strategy, the Government announced plans to undertake a review of housing-related support in order to better understand how housing and support currently fit together.

Homeless Link hopes that this review will highlight the vital importance of supported housing and the need for adequate funding not only for the housing costs but also for the support element so that this sector can secure a more sustainable future.  

There is an urgent need for the pressure on support funding streams to be acknowledged and addressed. Therefore, we would be interested in hearing your thoughts on:

  • the existing pressures on support costs
  • how your support costs are currently funded
  • how the support funding has changed over the past few years
  • the relationship between housing and support costs.

To share your views and experience on a proposed oversight regime and/or on the support cost element of supported housing, please contact Michaela Des Forges, Policy Manager on Michaela.DesForges@homelesslink.org.uk or 0207 840 4475.

We look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure the invaluable contribution supported housing makes is well understood and valued. I am also hoping to visit a few of our members over the coming months to discuss these issues and any emerging areas members would like us to focus on. If you would be willing to meet, please get in touch with me. 

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Michaela Des Forges

Michaela Des Forges

Policy manager

Michaela is policy manager at Homeless Link and leads on the Supported Housing Alliance.