The Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act became law on 29th August 2023. This new legislation aims to introduce new regulations to tackle any poor quality supported housing and protect residents.
The way the Act will be implemented is still subject to consultation, and we expect a consultation early this year. At the NHF, we support the aims of the Act, but we are committed to helping good quality providers of vital services have their voices heard and shape the details of the new regulations.
We’ve been working with both our members and policymakers to understand what impact the Act could have, and how it could be implemented in a way that works for supported housing providers, and for residents.
What does the Act aim to do?
- Introduce national supported housing standards, which will provide minimum standards for both the property and the care or support provided in supported accommodation.
- Require local authorities to create local supported accommodation licensing schemes.
- Introduce a strategic planning duty for local authorities, which will include collecting data on the supply of homes, a forecast of future need, and a delivery plan.
- Create a national expert advisory panel to monitor the sector, which will report to the Secretary of State.
What do we know now?
At the NHF, we recently held a series of roundtables in collaboration with the Local Government Association, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on the implementation of the Act. These sessions gave our members a way to share their concerns, brought some potential issues to light and gave us information to help guide our responses to the upcoming consultation. Here's what we've learnt about the Act so far:
The new rules will apply to specified accommodation.
The new regulations will apply to accommodation where residents are claiming Housing Benefit under specified accommodation. DLUHC has confirmed that specified accommodation would need a license.
Licensing and enforcement will apply to large parts of the supported housing sector, not only so-called ‘rogue providers’. We are continuing to work with DLUHC to ensure the expectations on providers are communicated in good time.
Existing fit and proper person tests may be taken into account for private registered providers of social housing.
DLUHC recognise that there may be elements of the licencing scheme that private registered providers of social housing will have evidenced to the Regulator of Social Housing already, such as ‘fit and proper person’ tests, and will take this into account. This will not include the support standards.
The importance of consistent licensing conditions is recognised.
We will not have the specific details on what the licensing conditions and standards may look like in practice, until the consultation. DLUHC recognised the importance of consistency across local areas and committed to working with local authorities to deliver this.
The licensing fee rate has not been agreed yet.
Although DLUHC have not yet committed to any amounts, they stated that “fees charged will need to reflect the costs of running and enforcing a licensing scheme”.
We still be calling for increased supported housing funding.
Local authorities will be receiving new burdens funding to set up their licensing scheme. The NHF is continuing to lobby Government for ring-fenced funding for housing-related support matching the £1.6bn per year allocated in 2010”, and a recommitment to the £300m Housing Transformation Fund.
We’ll be providing a full member briefing when the Act’s consultation is published this year. In the meantime, please let us know if you have any questions, concerns or issues to flag for our policy team.