The government recently announced it will not to go ahead with proposed changes in the way that specialist supported housing schemes are funded. Such schemes include women’s refuges and all specialist homelessness, mental health and alcohol and drug residential services including all those provided through BHT’s residential services.
The original proposals were slipped in, almost unnoticed, in George Osborn’s Autumn Statement in 2015. Initially, there was almost no reaction from housing organisations. I say “initially” because BHT saw the risk to our services and the services being provided nationwide to hundreds of thousands of society’s most vulnerable men and women.
We did an analysis of the proposals, which were technically quite complex, and I was on Channel 4 News shortly after the announcement was made to explain its dire consequences.
The government has subsequently tried to amend the proposals, most recently last autumn when it proposed that a ring fenced pot would be made available to local authorities to fund this provision. The risk of this was the inevitable erosion of the value of the pot and the possible removal of the ring fence (both of which has happened on a previous funding regime, Supporting People). On each occasion the consequences were shown to be equally disastrous as the previous proposals.
On 9th August the government quietly announced that there would be no change.
At the same time, the government also announced that it will work to develop a “robust oversight regime” to ensure quality and value for money in the supported housing sector. A spokesperson said it will work “with providers, local authorities, membership bodies and resident representatives” to achieve this. Perfectly effective quality assurance arrangements existed as part of the Supporting People regime. It seems a shame to be reinventing the wheel on this.
The government has also said that it will be undertaking a review of housing-related support. No details are currently available as what this will entail.