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CHANGES IN FUNDING OF SHELTERED AND SUPPORTED HOUSING - NHF CONCERNS

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Up to 300,000 vulnerable people who rely on independent social landlords for support will be affected by government...
Up to 300,000 vulnerable people who rely on independent social landlords for support will be affected by government proposals announced on Thursday to change the way sheltered and supported housing is funded (see LGCnet).

DSS proposals will mean funding for tenancy services, such as warden support, welfare and resettlement advice, previously funded by housing benefit will no longer be claimed by the individual. Instead funding for supported housing will be allocated through a new 'specific grant', administered by local joint commissioning panels made up of social services, housing and probation services. These panels will decide whether both new and existing projects will receive a grant for care and support costs.

The federation has welcomed the strengths of the joint commissioning approach especially that funding will remain ring fenced and believes supported housing will become better integrated with community care strategies. The scheme could raise opportunities both nationally and locally for building genuine partnerships between statutory bodies and independent providers.

Commenting on the proposals Jim Coulter, chief executive of the National Housing Federation said:

'The vision behind this announcement is right. Supported housing for vulnerable people needs to be central to local plans and allocating the money locally will help achieve this. However, if we are to avoid the risk of the system failing vulnerable people, the real challenge is to make the procedures effective and this will mean getting the practicalities right.'

The federation has major concerns including:

- Separate funding presently provided by the Housing Corporation for supported housing through the Supported Housing Management Grant should remain. The link between funding for buildings and running costs should be retained if present and future projects are to be secure.

- In some projects relatively small amounts of money, in particular wardens for sheltered housing, resource effective support services. Changing the funding basis in these cases could be disproportionately expensive and disruptive.

The federation has long argued that housing benefit is an equitable and effective means of funding supported housing costs. Many residents in supported and sheltered housing are vulnerable and have varied support needs. Any new system must ensure that their needs are assessed equitably and that their interests are protected.

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