Speculation is mounting that the controversial Supporting People
redistribution formula, which could lead to huge funding cuts for
some councils, is to be “kicked into the long grass”,
writes Simeon Brody.
Sources have told Community Care that the formula is
likely to be delayed until the 2007 spending review, or shelved
altogether, depending on the outcome of talks on the Supporting
One said the long-term resourcing of the programme was unlikely to
be decided until more was known about the future direction and
funding of adult social services.
This is because one option is understood to be to pool Supporting
People funding with social services’ budgets.
A redistribution formula consultation document was expected in July
but a letter about the future of Supporting People, sent to local
authorities by programme director Jane Everton this month, fails to
mention it. Instead, she says there will be consultation on
“funding allocations” and promises that no council will face cuts
of more than 5 per cent in 2006-7 or 2007-8.
The purpose of the distribution formula was to move the programme
away from funding councils according to the number of existing
projects in their area to a system based on need.
Although a formula was never finalised, early models would have
involved eventual cuts in some areas – particularly central London
– of up to 60 per cent.
Housing consultant and Supporting People expert Kathleen Boyle said
it would be difficult to see how redistribution could take place in
the context of overall budget cuts.
But a spokesperson for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
dismissed the speculation as “Chinese whispers” and said the
distribution formula would stem from the Supporting People
Everton confirmed in her letter that an outline Supporting People
strategy would be issued in September, followed by consultation and
a full strategy in April 2006.
Nigel Rogers, director of supported housing charity Sitra, said
officials were considering using the strategy to advocate different
responses for three distinct groups – the socially excluded, those
receiving community care funding and older people. But he said they
were not thinking about splitting the pot three ways.