The government has announced £3 million in funding for supported housing pilots across England as part of measures to improve standards in the sector.
The £3 million will be used to fund pilots in five areas – Birmingham, Hull, Blackpool, Bristol and Blackburn – running until the end of March 2021.
The pilots will aim to improve quality, enforcement, oversight and value for money in supported housing, focusing on building collaboration between local providers of short-term supported accommodation.
Alongside the funding, the government has also published a national statement of expectations (NSE) setting out its expectations for how supported housing should be planned, commissioned and delivered.
Kelly Tolhurst, minister for rough sleeping and housing, said: “Providing good quality homes to people who have been homeless, or who are unable to live independently, is fundamental to our support for vulnerable people.
“I know that most supported housing providers already provide a good service and it is right that we expect standards to be high. My statement today sends a strong message to providers that don’t meet our benchmark that they need to shape up.
“The pilots we are funding will explore different approaches to supported housing, to further raise the quality of service across the country.”
Supported housing provides accommodation and support for some of the country’s most vulnerable people. While most supported housing is for older residents, it also serves other vulnerable people such as people living with disabilities and those at risk of homelessness.
Last month over 29,000 people across the country were offered accommodation and support, with 10,000 of them provided with emergency accommodation and 19,000 provided with settled accommodation or short-term supported housing.
The NSE has been drawn up in collaboration between the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with input from local councils and the supported housing sector.
The NSE covers only the accommodation element of supported housing. The government has encouraged councils and local providers to take steps to ensure that any accompanying support services are of ‘good standard’ and meet residents’ needs.
The NSE has been welcomed by the National Housing Federation (NHF), who called it ‘an important step to set clear expectations for standards in supported housing’.
Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “The NSE demonstrates the value of supported housing and reflects our close work with the government, as well as our members – the housing associations which provide most of the supported housing in this country.
“We also welcome the funding for pilots, which will provide an opportunity to review how we can ensure these homes and services are of high quality, which housing associations are absolutely committed to.”
Supported housing needs continued investment and support, including the building of more supported homes, to help people access these ‘desperately needed’ services, Henderson added.
The government’s announcement follows a report published by IPPR North last week which called for a £900 million investment in ‘transitional’ supported housing. This would help give people access to homes and support while building the sector’s long-term capacity, the think tank said.