Response to MHCLG and DWP on sheltered and extra care housing

PlaceShapers’ responses to further Government consultations on the future funding of supported housing acknowledge progress made to ensure that the most vulnerable members of the community are protected but set out a number of concerns.

There are two consultations to which PlaceShapers has responded – the proposed revised model for funding sheltered and extra care housing plus the proposed model for funding short term supported housing.

Charlie Norman, CEO of Moss Care St Vincent’s and a PlaceShapers board member (pictured right), said: “Our members have more than 94,000 people living in supported housing and care units with the majority of these elderly people. As our members are rooted in local communities, these homes allow people to continue living in areas where they have lived and worked all their lives, often with close family connections nearby.

“These allows people to continue with a high quality of life in communities they love. At the same time, this saves the economy substantial amounts of money on budgets such as healthcare.”

PlaceShapers contributed to the initial consultations on the future funding of supported housing, submitting detailed responses to Government and to the joint select committee inquiry.

Charlie Norman said: “We were delighted that the revised policy position announced in October included dropping the originally proposed link with the LHA cap for supported housing given the devastating impact this would have had on residents in our current schemes as well as future provision.

“There is much to be positive about in the revised proposals and we are pleased that the Government intend to work closely with the sector to ensure that the final model is designed in a way that works for providers, commissioners and residents alike. However, there are some aspects of the revised approach that do cause concern and these are set out in consultation answers.

“Many of our members will have responded individually to the consultations too and in doing so will set out in more detail their views on the proposed new funding system in the context of local services.”

The key points of the response on the revised model for funding sheltered and extra care housing shows:

The proposed new ‘Sheltered rent’ should cover core rent only and should be split to provide separately for sheltered and extra care schemes given the major variations in building costs.

Service charges should not be included in the proposed new gross rent cap but should be regulated separately. Service charge setting is already governed by legislation that ensures transparency and accountability.

We are fully supportive of the need for strategic planning of provision but consider that there needs to be a wider approach to this process than an expectation primarily focussed on local authorities. Additionally, the need for such planning requires statutory backing to ensure it is delivered.

Read the full consultation response.

The key points of the response on the proposed model for funding short term supported housing shows:

We do not agree with the current definition of ‘short-term’ accommodation and propose instead that housing and support costs for anything other than schemes intended for very short-stay emergency accommodation should continue to be funded on an individual basis through the welfare system.

Grant based funding is appropriate and welcomed for emergency access schemes where occupancy will typically not exceed 12 weeks.

We have serious concerns about the principle that grant should be allocated by local authorities on the basis of local commissioning. Our experience of previous grant based systems, most notable the ‘Supporting People’ regime, suggests that when they have the ability to do so, local authorities will prioritise schemes that help them meet their own statutory duties and will rationalise providers for commissioning convenience. This will jeopardise current and future provision.

Consequently, it is essential that any grant has a very tight long-term ring-fence with statutory backing, strict funding conditions and a more considered approach to the appropriate channels for allocating funds.

We are fully supportive of the need for strategic planning of provision but consider that there needs to be a wider approach to this process than an expectation primarily focussed on local authorities. Additionally, the need for such planning requires statutory backing in order to ensure it is delivered.

We do not believe that the proposed 2020 implementation date for the new funding model for short-term accommodation is realistic or achievable. It is more important that the agreed approach is fit for purpose than it is to chase an arbitrary implementation deadline.

Read the full consultation response.

 

Charlie Norman

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