Well, first reading of the DCLG’s Funding Supported Housing paper, I am struggling to see why the National Housing Federation say it is a good outcome for the sector. Maybe it is for the sheltered housing sector, but for short term supported housing providers, which includes most supported housing provision for young people, the news looks grim.
For a provider to have all its revenue funding, including rents, to be commissioned by their relevant local authority, will undermine their future viability and autonomy. Within the paper it does though suggest housing costs can be claimed through Universal Credit. Further clarity is required.
Anyone heard of 25yr+ funding agreements in the sector? How can the government expect lenders to operate in a sector where its funding is solely tied to LA strategies which tend to work on five year cycles? Let alone the sector trust the ring fence commitment for the funding pot to remain indefinitely, given our past recent experience. Once funding is cut there will be no obvious plan B, no other credible sustainable funding steam to turn to.
The funding pot for providers will not grow for additional provision, once its been set. Nor will it keep pace with the real costs of provision, but will instead be reduced to fund expensive local authority administration of the fund.
The proposed Local Authority supported housing strategies may understandably focus on assisting them to meet their own statutory duties, with unpopular groups, such as young people vulnerable to significant future cuts. All providers, even where they currently are not in receipt of Supporting People funding, will be at the mercy of council commissioners, local political interference and market competition.
Finally, with the focus on two years, where is the move on accommodation for young people to move onto? The HB shared room reference rate for under 35yr olds has put a stop to most provision. Plus the proposed additional capital pot for move on accommodation is pitifully small. Also, what about current supported move on provision for young people, will this be classed as supported housing in the future?
The reality is the sector will need to plan to diversify its funding and operationally model away from supported housing in order to manage this impending huge risk. Which is where the good news may come…