Funding shortfall ‘threatens services’

The government should provide an extra £29m to close
Supporting People’s funding gap and review its operational problems
because they “threaten to destabilise services for vulnerable

Supporting People, the new single-stream funding regime for housing
with support, comes into effect on 1 April. Jim Coulter, chief
executive of the National Housing Federation, said the housing
association trade body had asked the government to urgently fill
the £29m gap between the funding needs identified in December
2002 and the £1.4bn allocated to councils for the programme
last month (news, page 11, 27 February).

Coulter said local authorities were trying to make reductions on
their Supporting People budgets by imposing draconian contracts and
agreements on housing associations providing supporting housing. He
also called for secure funding arrangements for years two and
three, including the flexibility to carry over any surplus or

Meanwhile, a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation into the
expected impact of Supporting People on services for people with
complex needs has found that health, housing, social services and
probation service commissioners lack an agreed definition of
marginal groups.

The report says there are known “shortfalls and gaps” in services
for marginal groups and that an analysis of need will be essential.
“Local politicians will need convincing of the necessity for action
and partner authorities will be expected to commit resources to
enable support services to extend their reach,” it says.

– Supporting People: Real Change? Planning Housing and Support
for Marginal Groups
from 01904 430033.

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