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Industry news


Government U-turn on supported housing funding is welcomed by a relieved sector


the funding of supported and sheltered housing. As part of its welfare reforms Ministers had been


T


consulting on capping the level of housing benefit paid to supported housing tenants. They had expected any additional costs to be paid for by ‘top- up’ grants administered by local authorities, but no guarantees existed for their duration. A lengthy and vocal campaign against


the changes appears to have persuaded the Government to change its plans and retain the current system, allowing housing benefit to cover both the rent and associated support costs of vulnerable tenants. This ended almost three years of uncertainty,


during which time many supported housing schemes closed and doubts were raised over the future viability of the whole sector. The sector houses people in different forms of


crisis – such as those facing homelessness or fleeing domestic violence – and provides them with a secure place to stay. It also provides a life-long home for those with learning and physical disabilities, mental ill-health and older people.


FUNDING FRAMEWORK The chief executives of three major housing associations involved in the provision of housing and care services for the elderly had been at the forefront of the campaign lobbying the Government. In a joint statement issued after the


announcement Jane Ashcroft (Anchor), Clare Tickell (Hanover) and Bruce Moore (Housing & Care 21) said: "We welcome the decision. It is clear the Government has listened to the concerns of the sector and they have taken on board suggestions that will help alleviate the fear that many providers and tenants felt if the proposed changes to funding had been implemented. "We are particularly keen to continue working


with the Government to make sure the appropriate level of funding provision is in place for tenants. This includes having a framework which ensures access to key services, helps provide suitable housing across the country and which provides value for money,” they added. Another relieved lobbyist was David Orr, chief


executive of the National Housing Federation, who said: “After years of uncertainty, we are delighted that housing costs will remain in the social security system for all supported housing, sheltered and extra care. “This announcement means that hundreds of thousands of people, many of who are vulnerable,


will continue to receive the support they need by right, through the social security system.”


RELIEF In addition to announcing a U-turn on its proposals, Ministers said they will work with providers, local authorities, membership bodies and resident representatives over the coming months to develop a robust oversight regime. Melanie Rees, head of policy at the Chartered


Institute of Housing, said: “This type of housing provides vital support for some of the most vulnerable people in our society – people who have been victims of homelessness or domestic abuse for example – and it is absolutely right that it will continue to be funded by the welfare system. “Without that certainty there was a real risk that


refuges and other supported housing schemes would have been forced to close.” Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local


Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “This announcement will give councils


and housing providers the certainty to sustain and invest supported housing for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. “It is, however, crucial that councils have the


leading role in overseeing and ensuring the provision of housing for vulnerable groups is good quality, value for money, and fits in with the wider local services offered in places. We look forward to working with the Government and our housing and care partners to ensure that the future of supported housing best achieves our ambitions for communities.” Providers had warned that the new system would


lead to further scheme closures and an end to the development of new support and sheltered housing schemes by creating financial uncertainty. Those fears were further allayed with an


announcement there will be £76m a year available over the next three years to support the construction of homes designed for people with disabilities, mental health issues or for older people who need extra support.


www.housingmmonline.co.uk | HMM September 2018 | 13


he social housing sector has breathed a huge sigh of relief after the Government announced it was scrapping plans to reform


The sector houses people in different forms of crisis – such as those facing homelessness or fleeing domestic violence – and provides them with a secure place to stay


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