The ring-fencing of money for the Supporting People programme could
be abolished under new government plans, a senior official at the
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has revealed.
Wendy Jarvis, head of housing care and support, told Supporting
People providers and managers earlier this week that the government
wanted to consider the “benefits and drawbacks” of removing the
But Supporting People managers have warned that any such move could
see homeless people, ex-offenders, substance misusers and other
“unpopular” service users left without vital support.
The current funding for the Supporting People programme, which
covers housing-related support services for vulnerable people, is
ring-fenced for all local authorities except those deemed to be
“excellent” under the comprehensive performance assessment.
Speaking at a conference organised by the Association of London
Government, Jarvis said the ODPM would be “looking at possibly
removing the ring-fencing” – despite acknowledging that the author
of an independent review into Supporting People funding published
earlier this year had advised against such a move “at least for
this year and the next”.
Author Eugene Sullivan advised that ring-fencing should only be
removed in the longer term, and that there was a “strong case” for
retaining specific grants for certain vulnerable groups (news, page
10, 19 February).
Stacy Smith, conference delegate and Supporting People manager in
Wandsworth, south London, said: “It would be very dangerous to
remove ring-fencing. The money needs to be ring-fenced until the
government has a much clearer idea of what Supporting People is
doing. It’s a worry for the less popular groups because there’s no
statutory duty to meet their needs.”
Matthew Pelling, Supporting People programme manager in Haringey,
added: “Social services departments in the inner-city who are under
strain and trying to manage council tax rises are going to focus
much more on priority needs if the ring-fencing is removed.”