The relentless bad press experienced by Supporting People is to
be countered by a charity campaign highlighting its benefits,
writes Simeon Brody.
The campaign, designed by charity Homeless Link and set to start
this autumn to coincide with a government consultation on the
future of Supporting People, will target policy-makers, MPs and the
The charity has also welcomed the decision by the Office of the
Deputy Prime Minister to write to local authorities this week
reminding them that there is no requirement for service users to
prove a “local connection” to access Supporting People
Research by the charity revealed that half of local authorities
were wrongly restricting services to people from the local
Since its launch in 2003, Supporting People has faced criticism as
a result of budget cuts, a heavy administrative burden and problems
with local implementation.
The charity hopes that by moving the emphasis away from the
difficulties the programme has faced, the fund can more easily be
defended and even increased in the 2007 spending review.
Homeless Link’s director of policy, practice and campaigns, Dominic
Williamson, said: “We are switching our emphasis on the campaigning
to make sure people are aware of what Supporting People
But Williamson said he would continue to highlight any
implementation problems with the programme. Homeless Link research
has found that two-thirds of local homelessness agencies felt under
pressure to change the services they offered due to the restrictive
definition of housing-related support adopted by their local
The charity fears local projects will be reluctant to engage in
certain types of work, such as ensuring people with tuberculosis
take their drugs, because the local authority might not fund
The ODPM is reviewing the future of Supporting People as part of a
“stock take” of the whole department. An ODPM spokesperson said it
would consult on any proposals and an announcement would be made
“in due course”.