This afternoon the long awaited outcome of the funding supported housing consultation has arrived. Last week’s announcement that LHA would not be applied to supported housing was met with broad relief, however, until today the sector was left in limbo to find out what the final solution would be. Today’s papers provide the detail, although do note that what has been presented today has been put forward as another consultation. I will do a brief summary here for members information, but for those of you who want to review all the documentation, then please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/funding-for-supported-housing
There you will find the following documents:
- Funding Supported Housing: Policy Statement and Consultation Documents
- Supported Housing Task and Finish groups: Independent Reports
The policy statement provides the overview of the proposed funding strategy and breaks the supported housing sector into three components:
- Extra care and Sheltered
- Long Term Supported Housing
- Short Term Supported Housing
Sheltered and extra care housing will be dealt with under what will be classed as a ‘sheltered rent’. This will incorporate what has been described as a ‘light touch’ regulation from the HCA, and the level of this rent will acknowledge the additional services available within these settings, and the consultation is seeking to understand from the sector what that ‘sheltered’ rent should look like. Sheltered and extra care housing will remain within the benefits system.
Long term supported housing is the most straightforward in that essentially the message is business as usual. This type of accommodation which is looking at providing a home for people for life. Whilst the policy statement notes a desire to work with the sector to look at costs, and to manage outcomes, it recognises the critical need for certainty and confirms that long term supported housing will remain within the benefits system.
Short term supported housing has the most significant change, with the proposal for it to be funded through a ring fenced grant which will be provided to the upper tier authority. This grant will be accessed by the local authority via a process of the development of a five-year strategic plan which will need to demonstrate consensus amongst districts as well as with the upper tier convening authority. Big changes – and undoubtedly lots of questions – this proposal – as with others – is out for consultation.
The task and finish reports cover four specific strands of the consultation, and I took the role of independent chair for the group focusing on the impact of the proposed changes to supported housing funding on investment and new developments. The four separate reports cover:
- Fair Access to Funding
- Local Roles, Responsibility and Oversight
- New supply of Supported Housing
- Short term Accommodation
The other headline news is around a delay in implementation. There is no intention to put these proposals into practice until April 2020, allowing for some headway in implementation.
Lots of questions – and a twelve-week consultation opens today – this summary blog is just intended to give members and interested parties the headlines – we will focus on this key issue in more detail over the coming months.