Government underestimates cost of housing support

The government underestimated the full cost of housing related
support under the Supporting People programme because of a lack of
quality data on housing and support services provided by local
authorities prior to 2000, the latest Supporting People review

The majority of services under the Transitional Housing Benefit
Scheme banner were originally hidden within the overall cost of
housing benefit, the Office of Deputy Prime Minister’s review
published earlier this week finds.

Its aim was to identify why exchequer costs rose from £880
million for England in April 2002 to £1.4 billion in December
2002 and £1.8 billion in April 2003.

An earlier review into the funding increase, published in
February, accused local authorities of cost shunting, commandeering
Supporting People money to pay for services that were previously
paid for by other budgets.

However, although the latest review acknowledges that local
authorities had used the uncapped transitional housing benefit
scheme to support other government policies, the move had been
recognised and encouraged by government.

It adds that a late development of services by local authorities
that were “confused and reluctant” to develop until
they were confident about the funding stream contributed to a low
uptake at the beginning.

Supporting People: Review of the development of the policy and
costs of housing-related support from


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