Director denies Supporting People is about cost cutting

The senior civil servant responsible for steering the
government’s new programme for supported housing has denied it is
designed to cut costs.

Supporting People was purely aimed at improving services,
according to Bert Provan, director of the housing care and support
division of the Department of Local Government, Transport and the

The programme will replace the funding of housing support costs
through housing benefit with a cash-limited scheme administered by
local authorities, prompting claims that it is designed to save

Speaking at the National Housing Federation’s housing care and
support conference Provan said: “It is not about cutting costs. It
is about delivering quality services.”

But there was still much to do before Supporting People is
introduced in all parts of the country by 2003, he said. “I am
under no illusions there are a number of significant issues to be
addressed,” he added. Guidance on the programme’s implementation
will be issued in October.

Provan admitted the transitional housing benefit scheme
introduced while Supporting People was being developed had “not
worked in the way anticipated”. He told delegates it would not be
used to measure the amount of money each local authority would be
allocated under Supporting People.

Civil servants may consider examining contracts to glean the
“size of the pot”.

Clare Tickell, chief executive of Stonham Housing Association,
told the conference she was concerned that registered social
landlords were not being given enough money to respond to the
challenges of Supporting People.

“Local authorities have been given bucket-loads. There is a not
a concomitant amount for housing associations,” she said.

Tickell added that she was concerned that the needs of people
with complex problems would not be met after Supporting People is

Meanwhile, supported housing providers and users are not fully
engaged in the Supporting People programme, reveals a new

The research was conducted by Novas-Ouvertures Group, the
supported housing provider and social inclusion agency. It called
for the setting up of groups of voluntary and statutory providers
to ensure consistent definitions of support and care. It also
pointed to a lack of guidance for councils about the involvement of
residents and service users at a strategic level in developing
Supporting People plans.

* A Question of Support – Implications of Supporting
from 0870 901 9710.

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