Department for Work and Pensions
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New funding and guidance to improve housing support for vulnerable people

The government has published a new National Statement of Expectations (NSE) for supported housing.

  • Government sets out clear expectations on supported housing standards
  • New measures will ensure that vulnerable people have safe, good quality homes
  • £3 million to test approaches for high quality support and accommodation

New funding for supported housing pilots in priority areas was yesterday (20 October 2020) announced by Kelly Tolhurst, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, as part of measures to improve standards and quality in supported housing.

The government has published a new National Statement of Expectations (NSE), setting out what it expects to see in standards, quality and value for money in supported housing and how this can be achieved by bringing together best practice across the sector.

The government has also announced £3 million to fund pilots in 5 areas – Birmingham, Hull, Blackpool, Bristol and Blackburn – to improve quality, enforcement, oversight and value for money in supported housing, focusing on short-term supported accommodation. The pilots will run until the end of March 2021.

The supported housing pilots will involve collaborative working between local partners and will carefully test different approaches to greater oversight of the sector and how higher standards could be enforced. The pilots are intended to improve quality of non-commissioned provision in priority areas.

Kelly Tolhurst, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing yesterday said:

Providing good quality homes to people who have been homeless, or who are unable to live independently, is fundamental to our support for vulnerable people

I know that most supported housing providers already provide a good service and it is right that we expect standards to be high. My statement today sends a strong message to providers that don’t meet our benchmark that they need to shape up.

The pilots we are funding will explore different approaches to supported housing, to further raise the quality of service across the country.

Lords Minister for the Department for Work and Pensions, Baroness Stedman-Scott yesterday said:

Supported housing has the power to change the lives of the most vulnerable people in our communities for the better.

Backed by £3 million, we will work with experienced partners to make sure that, across the board, this vital support is up to scratch.

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, yesterday said:

We are glad to see the government taking this important step to set clear expectations for standards in supported housing. The National Statement of Expectations demonstrates the value of supported housing and reflects our close work with the government, as well as our members – the housing associations which provide most of the supported housing in this country.

We also welcome the funding for pilots, which will provide an opportunity to review how we can ensure these homes and services are of high quality, which housing associations are absolutely committed to.

Supported housing plays a vital role in our society, ensuring that thousands of people have the home and support they need to live independent and healthy lives. We must continue to invest in it and develop it, including building more supported housing to help more people access these desperately needed services.

In supported housing, accommodation is provided alongside care, support or supervision to help people live as independently as possible in the community.

Supported housing provides homes for some of the most vulnerable people in the country. The vast majority is for older residents, but it also serves people from other vulnerable groups, such as those with disabilities, and those at risk of or with experience of homelessness.

During the pandemic, the government has worked closely with councils and the sector to offer vulnerable people safe accommodation and support.

That work is ongoing and in September the government had successfully supported over 29,000 people, with 10,000 in emergency accommodation and nearly 19,000 provided with settled accommodation or other support such as supported housing.

Further information

The National Statement of Expectations (NSE) has been developed in collaboration between the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with input from local councils and the supported housing sector.

In 2018, the government announced its commitment to improve oversight of supported housing to ensure good quality and value for money. The NSE is the first step in establishing its vision for standards, quality and value in supported housing.

The NSE focuses on the accommodation element of supported housing only. Organisations are encouraged to take steps to ensure that any accompanying support services are of a good standard and meets the needs of residents.

The supported housing sector is diverse, and the guidance has been designed to apply to all supported housing to the greatest extent possible; however not all expectations will be appropriate to every client group, scheme type or provider.

Examples of people who might live in supported housing include:

  • older people with support needs
  • people with a learning disability
  • people with a physical disability
  • autistic people with a support need
  • individuals and families at risk of or who have experienced homelessness
  • people recovering from drug or alcohol dependence
  • people with experience of the criminal justice system
  • young people with a support need (such as care leavers or teenage parents)
  • people with mental ill health
  • people fleeing domestic abuse and their children

The pilots are intended to improve quality of non-commissioned provision in priority areas. The measures will test different approaches to oversight carefully and proportionately, in a way that will not impact good quality, legitimate providers. The pilots will involve joined up, collaborative working between local partners.

See further information on the National Statement of Expectations.

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