ODPM needs to define Supporting People spending

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister should establish as a
“matter of urgency” clear criteria as to what
Supporting People grants should be spent on, MPs have demanded,
writes Shirley Kumar.

If necessary, funding for “less popular” vulnerable
groups should be ring-fenced as part of this process, the ODPM
select committee recommends.

In its latest report, the committee says such a move would protect
service users such as victims of domestic violence, rough sleepers,
ex-offenders, and people who misuse drug and alcohol who may not be
a priority for councils facing cuts in next year’s

Welcoming the proposal, Alcohol Concern interim chief executive
Richard Phillips said: “Under funding of alcohol generally is
chronic. If it is to be ring-fenced under Supporting People, we can
provide much better provisions.”

Head of quality, performance and review at homelessness charity St
Mungo’s, Mick Carroll, added: “We are strongly in
favour of ring-fencing for less popular groups and urge that the
homeless and other vulnerable people that we work with are included
in this group.”

The report also describes Home Improvement Agencies, which provide
financial and practical assistance in carrying out repairs and
adaptations in service-users’ homes, as “good value for

It suggests that the ODPM ensure nationwide coverage of agencies by
2006 and that the funding for these is also ring-fenced if

Although heavily criticising the ODPM for the way the Supporting
People programme was brought into operation, the report welcomes
the tighter regime of financial control introduced by the
department in response to the Robson Rhodes review published in
February 2004.

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