Local authority budgets for delivering the government’s new
supported housing funding programme are in danger of being
inadequate, according to local authorities and the independent
social housing sector, writes Jonathan
Supporting People, the government’s programme of housing-related
support for vulnerable groups, is due to be introduced in April
The transitional housing benefit scheme introduced to help
estimate the total future pot of money for Supporting People is
leading to discrepancies in what is counted as rent and what is
counted as “general counselling and support”.
Since April last year, housing providers – including landlords
in the private and public sector – have had to separate the
There are four categories of support now covered by the scheme:
help with maintaining the security of the housing; help with the
safety of the building, such as adaptations to cope with
disability; assistance with complying with the tenancy agreement;
and other more general support services not covered elsewhere.
These costs will be used by the government to calculate the
Supporting People budget, which will become a closed budget after
The National Housing Federation, among others, is concerned that
housing providers are not declaring enough support costs in the
scheme, choosing instead to keep them in rent costs.
Some councils have said landlords are resistant to declaring all
their support costs because they believe the funds will be safer in
a housing benefit budget, in addition to the fear that councils may
withdraw the support services once the full programme comes into
operation in 2003.
According to Nick Sweet, NHF national co-ordinator for
Supporting People, not enough councils have appointed permanent
full-time Supporting People teams, and there has not been enough
mapping of local providers.
The Supporting People unit at the Department of Environment,
Transport and the Regions also has concerns. “We in the DETR and
the Department of Social Security are very, very worried and
concerned about people understanding the scheme … and stripping
out housing-related support costs,” said Bert Provan, DETR
Supporting People lead officer.
“I need to ensure that the right amount of support is
identified. We’ve issued guidance on identifying housing-related
support. We’re monitoring it closely by quarterly returns from