Supported housing users to get good services charter

Users of supported housing would receive “charters of independent living” setting out the standards of services they should expect, under a government Supporting People strategy announced today by the Department of Communities and Local Government.

The charters, which would be developed for each area, are part of a crop of measures designed to make Supporting People services more user-focused.
Other plans include integrating assessments for housing support with those for health and social care and helping councils identify people who could benefit from preventive services.

The DCLG also wants to expand the role of the third sector, which currently delivers two-thirds of Supporting People services, through ensuring three-year settlements and full cost recovery for providers, and helping build capacity in the sector in partnership with national bodies such as Hact, the National Housing Federation  and Sitra .

It also wants to see more partnerships between voluntary groups and consortiums bidding for contracts, which would help smaller organisations retain a role in provision.
Hact welcomed the strategy. Acting director Andrew Van Doorn said: “The strategy rightly puts service users at its heart and recognises the invaluable role that many smaller organisations play in supporting them in local communities across the country.”

It also repeats the DCLG’s ambition to fund Supporting People services through local area agreements (LAAs), rather than a ringfenced fund, from April 2009, but said this would be tested in pilots next year.

LAAs give council flexibility over how they spend money, so long as they meet targets agreed with government, which has prompted fears that less popular groups may lose out on Supporting People funding.

Earlier this month, the DCLG produced an outcomes framework for Supporting People providers, under which long-term projects must provide annual reports on whether tenants have made progress finding work or managing substance misuse problems.

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