New plans for funding supported housing
The Government released its new plans for funding supported housing on 31 October, having already announced that the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate will not be applied to these services.
Separate systems will now apply to sheltered and extra care housing, long-term housing for those with needs such as mental ill health or learning disabilities and short-term supported housing for people who are homeless or in crisis. Longer-term and sheltered housing will continue to be funded through the welfare system. However, services that provide short-term accommodation for up to a maximum of two years, including homeless hostels, will be taken out of the welfare system and receive funding through a ring-fenced grant to local authorities.
The new system will be rolled out in April 2020. A consultation on the plans will run until 23 January 2018.
Homeless Link's Chief Executive, Rick Henderson, commented:
“This is good news for providers of longer-term supported housing, as it offers certainty, enabling them to plan for future provision. However, the proposals may not be enough to reassure providers of short-term accommodation, including many Homeless Link members working with single homeless people and those with complex needs.
“The plan for a localised funding system for these short-term services poses many risks and has thrown up questions as to how it will work in practice. Although the Government has recognised the importance of ensuring sustainability, services will have to rely on a finite amount of locally administered funding, and we are concerned whether there will be adequate safeguards in place to ensure this will reach those who need it. Greater certainty is needed to secure the future of these crucial services.
“While some local authorities will welcome taking control of the commissioning of services, we know that practice can be inconsistent, meaning provision may suffer in some areas. Ring fences, whilst designed to protect, can sometimes be broken when local government finance is under pressure.
“There is a risk that a two-tier system is being created. The Government has accepted the principle of the welfare system funding the full housing costs of people living in a portion of supported housing, so we question why this principle cannot be applied to the entire system.
“We will continue to work with our members to gather evidence on the impact of these proposals and to share these with Government, doing all we can to ensure these vital services are sustained and the most vulnerable people in our society receive the support they need.”
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