MRAssociates — Blog
Welcome to MR Associates blog on all things regarding Supported Exempt Accommodaiton
Why are the Government Reforming the Funding of Supported Housing?
Supported housing is expensive. There is no doubt about that. We saw in our last blog that in 2015 alone the Housing Benefit bill for housing related costs amounted to in excess of four billion pounds. Despite this however, the Government has assured us that they are committed to maintaining the vital role supported housing plays in society today and to tackling homelessness through prevention, and providing help to our most vulnerable in society.
The Government assert that they have a strong track record in safeguarding supported housing and boosting new supply (between 2011 and 2017 in England alone, they delivered over 27,000 new supported homes). However, are we now facing a possible storm ahead as the Government has identified the need to reform and transform the way in which they fund supported housing?
For all the Government’s assurances, those working in the field of supported housing have been placed on nervous alert as we hear about the Government's proposals for reform and wonder how this will affect supported housing in reality. Will the Government put their money where we are told their commitments lie?
The purpose of this blog therefore is to consider the real reasons why the Government want reform in this area and what their objectives are.
The case for reform?
Most of us are used to the confines of budgeting and providers of supported housing are no strangers to the ongoing struggle to make funds stretch further year on year. The Government are also subject to financial restrictions and their task is to allocate funds wisely and where it is most needed. This must surely form the basis of their intention to reform the way in which supported housing is funded in the future to ensure value for money and fair distribution to those who most need financial support for their housing.
Demand for help to live independently is set to rise as our population ages and medical advances are able to prolong life beyond the previously expected three score years and ten. Current projections suggest that the overall number of supported homes may need to rise across Great Britain from 650,000 to 845,000 (30% increase), particularly among older people (35% increase on current demand) and people with disabilities (53% increase).
Set against these fairly staggering statistics, the Government appear to be clear in their long term intention to ensure that people have a safe and secure home and in recognising that this is all the more essential for vulnerable adults who need support to live independently.
The reasons for reform
In their Policy Statement and Consultation Paper in November last year, the Government advised that there are three clear reasons why they are seeking to reform the funding of housing costs for supported housing:
(1) To secure supply now and in the future;
(2) To strengthen focus on outcomes, oversight and cost control; and
(3) To ensure it works with the modernised welfare system.
Essentially therefore, the Government are now taking steps to reform this area with a view to building a system which is better able to manage this increasing demand. They need to target their funds efficiently by ensuring that there is effective control of spending with the goal of providing quality services that are outcome focused.
The objectives of reform
The Government claim to have four key objectives in reforming the way in which supported housing is funded:
(1) To set up a funding model that is people focused whereby the needs of the most vulnerable people are met with the provision of good quality homes with help to move-on to independent living wherever possible.
(2) To set up a funding model which provides certainty for developers in meeting the current and future demands of supported housing.
(3) To set up a funding model that is flexible and deliverable. It must be workable for commissioners and providers whilst being user friendly in its implementation.
(4) To set up a funding model that provides value for money for service users and taxpayers.
What has been the response to the Government’s intention for reform?
It is perhaps of some encouragement to know that, in reaching these decisions regarding future funding models, the Government has taken the views of those who will be most affected into account. In their Policy Statement in November, they state:
Over the past year we have worked with supported housing commissioners and providers, representatives of supported housing tenants, as well as the devolved administrations, to establish what a workable and sustainable funding model for the sector should looklike. In particular, detailed work with Task and Finish groups has been crucial in establishing new funding models – as far as possible we have incorporated their recommendations.
The Government claims that in going through this process, they have established that most of the sector agreed with the general principle of reform and that they were keen to see that any reform provides:
(a) long term certainty over funding;
(b) an involvement of local areas in planning and commissioning;
(c) that the diverse needs of this sector be reflected by the provision of diverse funding models; and
(d) that sufficient time will be given to implement the changes.
Our next blog
In our next blog we will explore the Government’s proposed approach to funding supported housing in the future and consider how the funding models may work in practice.
The need to know
All those working in the area of supported housing, especially providers, need to be aware of these forthcoming changes and how they may be affected by them. If you need advice or help in preparing for these changes please feel free to contact us. We offer a free twenty minute consultation to all non-profit making organisations.