End of ring fencing is cue for anxiety

Supporting People funding is set to lose its ring-fenced status,
the departing head of the programme has claimed.

In a letter to local authorities, Wendy Jarvis said she expected
the ring-fence to be relaxed at some point after April 2006.

The current arrangements prevent local authorities from diverting
funds into the general spending pot, and housing providers have
argued that services for “less popular” groups could lose out if
the ring-fencing is weakened.

Nigel Rogers, director of Sitra, which provides support services to
voluntary organisations and housing associations, said that he
feared preventive services could lose out with local authorities
opting to provide only the services that they were legally obliged

He said: “Already we are seeing very worrying signs that some local
authorities are attempting to restrict access to services to local
people… Supporting People still needs the protection of
ring-fencing to deliver the massive benefits it can offer.”

Diane Henderson, National Housing Federation policy officer, said
she was concerned that less popular groups could lose out.

But, she said evidence from the 39 “excellent” local authorities
that already had freedom from ring-fencing suggested this had not

A spokesperson for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said no
decision had been made, but confirmed that the department was
“considering options which would relax ring-fencing in a controlled

She insisted that any change would be unlikely to come into effect
immediately from April 2006, but would be phased in.

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