Review questions value for money of services under Supporting People

Local authorities must make a 2.5 per cent saving from this year’s
standstill £1.8bn Supporting People budget, the government has

The news 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.

As a result, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was forced to
increase the Supporting People budget for England for 2003-4 from
£1.4bn to £1.8bn.

But review author Eugene Sullivan concluded that £1.8bn 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 – although
acknowledged that any reduction would have to be within “manageable
limits” so as not to compromise vulnerable service users or

He proposed further reductions in funds for existing services in
2005-6 and 2006-7 to allow for the development of new

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-related support”.

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

“There is consensus that not everything that happened in the
transition was in line with the intention and proper application of
the Supporting People objectives,” he said.

In particular, Sullivan said authorities and providers with high
unit costs needed to show that they represented value for money.
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. Many of these will now be subject to additional
detailed inspection by the Audit Commission.

– Review of the Supporting People Programme from

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