Local authorities are expected to make a 2.5 per cent saving
from this year’s standstill Supporting People budget of £1.8
billion, the government has announced, writes Lauren
Just one-fifth of local authorities accounted for 30 per cent of
the total Supporting People budget last year, mainly as a result of
high unit costs.
The announcement coincides with the publication of the
independent review into the funding of the first year of Supporting
People, set up amid speculation of “cost-shunting” on
the part of social services departments and other agencies.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was forced to increase
the Supporting People budget for England for 2003-4 from £1.4
billion to £1.8 billion, but has kept the level the same in
the 2004-5 allocation of £1.8 billion.
Consultant and review author Eugene Sullivan concluded that
£1.8 billion was “too much to pay” last year to
cover the provision of housing related support services previously
funded through other grants and benefits.
He recommended the 2004-5 Supporting People budget should not be
paid in full or on the basis of last year’s distribution. He
proposed further reductions in funds for existing services in
2005-6 and 2006-7 to allow for the development of new services.
The review confirms suspicions that some services currently
funded by the programme were previously funded by mainstream
housing, social services, and possibly health budgets, and include
support “other than that intended and defined as housing
Sullivan said it was important to consider, therefore, whether
other government departments – and, in particular, the
Department of Health – should contribute towards the
Supporting People programme.