MPs urge ring-fencing of Supporting People grants to guarantee services

Clear criteria for spending Supporting People grants should be
drawn up urgently, MPs have demanded.

And funding for “less popular” vulnerable groups should be
ring-fenced to guarantee services.

The recommendations are spelled out in the latest report of the
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) select committee.

The MPs say ring-fencing would protect service users, including
victims of domestic violence, rough sleepers, ex-offenders and drug
and alcohol misusers, who may not be a priority for councils facing
cuts in next year’s grants.

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

It also has the backing of homelessness charity St Mungo’s. Head of
quality, performance and review Mick Carroll said: “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 describes home improvement agencies, which provide
financial and practical help in carrying out repairs and
adaptations in service users’ homes, as “good value”. It suggests
that the ODPM ensures national coverage of the agencies by 2006 and
that funding for these is also ring-fenced if necessary.

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

However, it warns that applying cuts blindly to each council could
“damage services for vulnerable people in an unacceptable

It says the ODPM should cut grants for only those councils that the
Audit Commission has identified as having “excessively high

A stronger link between social housing capital and revenue
programmes is also needed to ensure projects requiring funding from
both pots are not jeopardised.

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