Homeless people are being prevented from benefiting from Supporting
People services because local authority commissioners are, wrongly,
refusing to fund services for people whose last address was in
another borough,writes Simeon
Research by Homeless Link, revealed at its conference last week,
found that half of local homelessness agencies report their local
authority applying “local connection” criteria to Supporting
Homeless Link director of practice, policy and campaigns Dominic
Williamson said the issue was causing “a lot of problems” for
homelessness projects with people unable to move to supported
housing in their home town if their last address was at a hostel
over the council border.
There are also fears that homeless people who move from area to
area may not be able to establish a local connection
A local connection must be proved if people are to access housing
under homelessness legislation but officials from the Office of the
Deputy Prime Minister told the conference it was not part of the
Supporting People programme.
The ODPM’s head of standards and monitoring Lorraine Regan said
local connection was a “huge issue” for the department to tackle.
ODPM figures suggested 35 per cent of councils were imposing local
criteria across all Supporting People services.
Delegates also heard the government had considered legislation to
make the delivery of housing-related support a local authority duty
in response to concerns that councils would divert money away from
supported housing once the programme’s ring fence is removed.
Regan said a change in the law was unlikely but that work was set
to begin on a Supporting People strategy, giving authorities a
steer on how the programme should be delivered.
Describing the programme as being “at a crossroads” Regan said the
ODPM would consult on the national strategy. But she predicted the
ring fence would not be removed next year.
The planned strategy comes in the wake of a series of poor Audit
Commission reports on local Supporting People programmes.
Two-thirds of the 59 inspections carried out so far have scored
zero or one star.
The head of the ODPM’s homelessness directorate Terrie Alafat
announced a £2m innovation fund to be made available to local
authorities to help deliver the government’s target of reducing the
use of temporary accommodation by half by 2010.
Homeless Link chief executive Jenny Edwards told the conference the
sector was at a “pivotal moment”, with more resources than it had
ever had, and that, with ambition and vision, homelessness could be