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Ministers U-turn on supported housing funding

Words: Huw Morris
Housing estate / iStock: 163930328

Controversial plans to cap benefits for supported housing tenants and fund schemes through local authority ‘top-up’ grants have been scrapped.

All funding for supported housing will be retained in the welfare system, ministers have decided after consulting on the plans for two-and-a-half years.

The consultation on alternative funding options provoked an outcry from social housing landlords, councils and other stakeholders, which warned that the proposals risked throttling development amid fears and uncertainty that authorities could slash “top-up” funding in the future.

“Protection of the most vulnerable has always been our primary concern, and following our consultation the case for keeping supported housing in the welfare system became clear,” said housing minister Kit Malthouse.

“The sector also recognised that our aim of improving the quality of homes must be addressed, and we look forward to now working with partners to make sure we have strong measures in place.”

Alternative options had included grant funding for short-term provision, such as hostels and refuges, and a “sheltered rent” for sheltered and extra care housing. Under the grant model, councils would have received funding and paid short-term supported housing rents at their discretion.

The Local Government Association said the move would give councils and housing providers the certainty to sustain and invest in supported housing for vulnerable people.

“A sustainable funding model for supported housing is critical to ensuring councils can reduce homelessness and help older and other vulnerable people,” said LGA Community Wellbeing Board chairman Izzi Seccombe.

“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.”

The National Housing Federation said the government had listened to the concerns of housing associations and the people who use these homes and services.

"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,” said chief executive David Orr. “The sector has worked together to demonstrate the value of supported housing, ensuring the government understood the need to protect these homes and services and put a funding model in place that would encourage future development.”

Image credit | IStock