Open Forum

The mismanagement of Supporting People has seen vulnerable people lose their support, writes Chris Close

As an advocate working with vulnerable people, the advent of the Supporting People programme was something I viewed with mixed feelings. I fully back the principle that vulnerable people should be supported to live independently, but who was to decide how independent people should or could be?

With the introduction of Supporting People there was a stampede among some councils to move people into independent tenancies, withdrawing social care support and replacing it with “housing” support, which practically amounted to the same thing. However, this led to such increased costs that the government woke up and began reviewing the Supporting People budgets,
suggesting people should not be receiving Supporting People money open-endedly because they should eventually become truly independent.

There were severe consequences.

First, when the Supporting People money was removed from people’s support packages it was not replaced because the care that people needed was now assessed as housing support,
not social care, even though it was, in essence, the same support.

Second, some landlords began to give people notice that they would have to move out of their homes because the landlord could not manage without the Supporting People money. People who had been told they were moving into a home for life were now told they had to move.

This was made worse because social landlords did not want to serve a formal Notice to Quit – tenants then had problems being rehoused by the council because without this notice, they were not deemed to be a priority.

Without social care support, many people have become isolated.

Recently, I alerted the police to my concerns for users, many of whom lived in supported tenancies, who are being threatened by young people who wait outside the post office when they collected their money.

Are people really being supported? I don’t think so.

Chris Close is an advocacy manager

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