This month we held two round table sessions with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)'s Homelessness/Rough Sleeping team. This was an opportunity for over 60 of our housing association members to feedback on their experience of bidding into the 2020/21 Rough Sleeper Accommodation Programme (RSAP).
Challenges and recommendations for future bidding
- Although the overall objectives of the fund were clear, there was a feeling that the scope of the fund should be extended to more supported housing models and flexibility for longer term solutions such as Housing First.
- The guidance should have greater clarity on the type of proposals that are acceptable and how the RSAP interacts with other funding. There were inconsistencies in local authority interpretations across the country.
- The RSAP should be more aligned with other funding pots such as Homes England’s Move On Fund and local authority housing related support contracts.
- There should be flexibility for housing associations to be able to lead and coordinate bids outside London, with oversight by the local authorities involved.
- Consortia bids with smaller housing associations joining with larger housing associations should be welcomed and enabled.
- Housing associations working across several local authority boundaries in some areas are better placed strategically to bring partners together to co-produce sub-regional bids.
- Timescales had been a key challenge for many in being able to form robust partnership bids with local authorities and in some cases multiple local authorities.
- Late communication about bid outcomes has led to increased risks of not meeting completion dates.
- MHCLG should communicate more regularly with prospective bidders and their partners, particularly before launch and after bids are submitted.
- There should be a longer lead in time for the bids to enable more meaningful co-production, including hearing the customer voice.
- Future commissioning should have flexibility for longer tenancies and longer revenue periods.
We have shared this feedback with MHCLG to inform the design of future bidding rounds from 2021/22.