We have been working with the Housing Learning and Improvement Network to identify the key barriers to developing new supported housing for people with long-term care and support needs, and how these can be overcome.
The evidence in this report is based on research by the Housing Learning and Improvement Network. The report highlights three core funding areas that are needed for the development of sustainable long-term supported housing by housing associations and their partners:
- Capital funding: The government should significantly increase capital funding overall, through Homes England, for investment in supported housing and allow for increased capital grant funding rates for supported housing development.
- Funding for housing-related costs (rent and service charges) through the welfare system: The government should make a long-term (10 year+) commitment to Housing Benefit continuing to meet housing-related costs in supported housing.
- Funding for support costs: The government should deliver funding to meet the costs of providing support to vulnerable people living in longer-term supported housing.
The following recommendations are made based on the evidence from this research:
- The government should reform the Rent Standard in relation to supported housing, allowing for greater flexibility in excess of the current 10% flexibility above that of general needs housing, which would help to cover the higher actual costs of developing and managing supported housing schemes.
- The current housing capital funding programme through NHS England and Improvement should be transferred to Homes England and delivered as part of the Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund. If this were combined with increased capital funding grant rates, this would stimulate development of more supported housing for people with complex disabilities by housing associations.
- Many housing providers would welcome sector-wide oversight of supported housing quality. However, any new oversight regime should be proportionate. The focus should be on consistent measures of outcomes for vulnerable people, sector-wide benchmarking and full transparency on the costs of providing supported housing.
- Any new oversight regime should recognise the higher relative costs of providing supported housing (compared to general needs housing) and the legitimate reasons for these higher costs.
- A more coordinated approach is required between the RSH, the CQC and local authorities to avoid ‘gaps’ in oversight, but also to avoid unintended duplication of oversight for supported housing providers.
- Any new national arrangements for supported housing led by MHCLG (following on from the anticipated ‘National Statement of Expectations for Supported Accommodation’) should require that local authorities develop a clear strategic understanding of the need for supported housing in their area, and a plan setting out the types of housing required, for whom, when and where.
- As part of this strategic approach, the government should strongly encourage local authorities to take a strategic view of commissioning and procurement, with 5-10 year contracts becoming the norm, moving away from many commissioners’ continuing reliance on two-three year contracting cycles. Such a shift would help provide a much more stable, sustainable business environment for providers of supported housing.
- The government should publish benchmarking data about rents and service charges data for long-term supported housing, potentially by region, and provide guidance to local authorities to ensure they take a more consistent approach to the application of Housing Benefit eligibility regulations as they apply to supported housing.