Government plans to separate the cost of providing support
services for vulnerable people from the wider housing benefit bill
are in disarray, new research suggests.
Councils were set the task of assessing all housing benefit
claims before 1 April this year to ascertain how much support
tenants were receiving with their housing benefit, whether they
needed that support, and whether their landlord could provide
The information gathered over the next three years will be used
to calculate how much money is being spent on support services in
preparation for a central budget, to take place in April 2003.
But a survey by the National Housing Federation reveals that one
month after the deadline local authorities have assessed just 13
per cent of claims, with a further 9 per cent under review.
The Federation has written to the government, with a warning
that the delay in processing assessments threatens to invalidate
the fact-finding process.
Federation chief executive Jim Coulter argued that the findings
from the first year of the assessment process would be "very poor
quality" and could result in "a sizeable underestimation of the
amount of funding Supporting People will need".