under the Transitional Housing Benefit Scheme have been widened.
Regulations defining the scheme were laid by the department of social
associations and recommendations by the social security advisory
This wider definition will mean that accommodation with a
non-resident warden will not need a commonroom to be considered
eligible for support service funding. This will ensure that some
services which may otherwise have been excluded from funding under
the Transitional Housing Benefit Scheme will now be funded.
The regulations will introduce the Transitional Housing Benefit
Scheme for Supported Accommodation from April 2000. The scheme will
widen current provision for funding support services. It paves the
way for the long term supporting people arrangements which will be
introduced from April 2003.
Social security minister Angela Eagle said:
'Consultation has shown that there is strong support for the
principles of the Supporting People arrangements and the fact that
the provision of support services will be placed on a stable footing
for the first time.
I am pleased that the department has been able to respond to the
views expressed by interested parties on services included under the
scheme. This demonstrates our commitment to listen to and work with
stakeholders in developing workable policies.'
The aim of the transitional scheme is to ensure that stable funding
is maintained for support services during the transitional period. It
will also allow the information needed to implement the long term
arrangements to be gathered.
Providers of support services will have a key role to play between
now and April 2000 in preparing for the Transitional Housing Benefit
The government is to run an information campaign to ensure that
providers are kept fully informed of the changes. This will include
a series of seminars across Great Britain this autumn.
1. The inter-departmental review on supported housing was set up in
1996, and charged with finding sustainable, long term funding
arrangements for support services for vulnerable people.
2. The departments taking part in the review were: The Scottish
Office; Welsh Office; Department for Education and Employment;
Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions; Department of
Health; Home Office; The Treasury; Drugs Unit; Women's Unit.
Decisions on implementation of the long-term arrangements in Scotland
and Wales will fall to the Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly.
3. Housing benefit is an income-related benefit which helps people
on low incomes meet the cost of rented accommodation. It can pay up
to 100 per cent of rent, depending on the claimant's circumstances.
It is administered by local authorities on behalf of the DSS.
4. Supported housing providesaccommodation and services to
vulnerable people, such as the elderly, and those with learning
difficulties and mental health problems. Such services may include
the general support, counselling and supervision that enable the
individual to live with some measure of independence in the
5. Housing benefit can help meet rent, strictly limited specific
service charges, and other charges relating to 'the provision of
adequate accommodation', ie charges which relate to the fabric of
the dwelling. There are exemptions to this rule. For example,
charges for general counselling and support are eligible in certain
6. A divisional court judgement in July 1997 (upheld by the court of
appeal in July 1998) confirmed the view of the DSS that only those
service charges for general counselling and support which relate to
the fabric of the dwelling satisfy the basic criteria for housing
benefit eligibility, in that they relate to 'the provision of
7. The DSS believed that many local authorities may have adopted a
wider interpretation of 'the provision of adequate accommodation'
than permitted under the court ruling. In order to protect the
supported accommodation sector, the secretary of state introduced
interim regulations on 18 August 1997 which enable housing benefit to
meet all reasonable charges for general counselling and support in
'existing supported accommodation' which was open on that date. Other
supported accommodation is subject to the normal rules. The interim
regulations have been extended to 31 March 2000.
8. The Transitional Housing Benefit Scheme will pave the way for the
long-term Supporting People funding arrangements. Supporting People
will replace the current, complicated funding arrangements for
vulnerable people, and will be clear and practical, allowing local
authorities to respond to local needs in a more integrated way.