Minister pledges to maintain ring-fence

The ring-fenced status of the Supporting People programme is to be protected.

Local government minister Phil Woolas told a National Housing Federation conference last week that the programme was “ring-fenced for a reason” and “we won’t betray vulnerable people”.

The idea of merging the programme with general local authority funding had been floated in last year’s draft Supporting People strategy but had prompted complaints from providers who felt unpopular groups would lose out.

Emma Daniel, the new chief executive of supported housing umbrella group Sitra, said the decision to keep the ring-fence and pursue three-year funding agreements recognised the supported housing sector was already reeling from change and showed the government had listened to the consultation responses.

In its preliminary response to the strategy consultation, which was published last week, the Department for Communities and Local Government recommended that projects to tackle antisocial behaviour should be developed as part of the Supporting People programme.

Chartered Institute of Housing policy officer Sarah Davis applauded tackling antisocial behaviour through a supported housing approach. But she warned against funding new schemes by simply moving money from existing services.

The DCLG response, which is published ahead of a full strategy expected in the autumn, made no decision on the controversial funding distribution formula.

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