13 February 2017
Our response to the latest Government consultation on supported housing
In November 2016, the Government published a consultation document 'Funding for Supported Housing' which outlined plans to cap Housing Benefit (HB) payments for rent and service charges at the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate for an area. As part of this, Government has asked how the proposed funding model can be made to work.
In our response to the consultation, Hanover has focused on the potential impact on sheltered housing. This type of accommodation is distinct from other forms of supported housing and it is our belief that LHA rates do not actually take account of additional costs related to the provision of supported housing.
The main points we have put forward include:
- The proposed funding model should not be introduced for sheltered housing;
- There is a real risk that there will be less sheltered housing, impacting on health and social care;
- Sheltered housing costs relate mainly to the costs of providing and maintaining the housing and the specialist facilities. It is a low cost service provided to very many older people;
- The Government proposals would introduce geographic inconsistency. They’re likely to have the biggest impact in northern local authorities, that have already seen the largest reductions in spending in recent years;
- Funding to support tenants in sheltered housing should be considered as part of a wider debate on welfare benefits for older people and the current pressures on health and social care. This would give an integrated approach
- Funding to support the housing costs of older people should be administered nationally; and
- The pressure to divert funding to other services will lead to anxiety for many older people, uncertainty about the future of existing sheltered housing schemes and limitations on the development of new schemes to meet the increasing need.
While Hanover does not support the proposed funding model, if it is implemented we argue that:
- There should be a specific cap for sheltered housing, reflecting the true cost of providing the homes and services;
- There should be protection for at least five years for existing tenants;
- There should be an annual bidding process for new funding to develop new homes and services with ten years guaranteed revenue funding;
- Older people’s housing boards should be established by administering authorities to assess needs and agree priorities;
- There should be long term contracts for providers. This would give certainty to invest in existing housing and to develop new homes to meet increasing demand;
- There should be a national accreditation process to assure quality and value for money. This would mean less work for local authorities, who would know which providers are approved. Any new arrangements should be piloted first to ensure they are workable.
As well as producing an individual response to the consultation, we have been working closely with Anchor and Housing & Care 21 to develop a joint submission to the Government to show decisions around social care and supported housing will impact all our futures.
Alongside this, the Work and Pensions Committee and the Communities and Local Government Committee launched a joint inquiry into the Government's funding reform for supported housing. We have submitted both an individual response and a joint submission with Anchor and Housing & Care 21.
All of these responses can be found in our Influencing policy section.