The way that supported accommodation is funded is changing. On 31 October 2017, the UK Government proposed a policy framework for this area and included two consultations. The changes, due to be implemented in April 2020, cover three types of supported housing:
- sheltered and extra-care housing (for older people with support needs, and some working age tenants);
- short-term housing (for those in crisis situations, such as those fleeing domestic violence, or homeless people with support needs); and
- long-term housing (for those with long-term needs, such as people with learning disabilities)
Sheltered and extra care housing
Sheltered and extra care accommodation will continue to be funded through the UK welfare system. In England there will be a 'Sheltered Rent', which aims to bring in proportionate cost controls with the social housing regulator utilising existing powers to regulate the Gross Eligible Rent (rent inclusive of eligible service charges) charged by registered providers. The consultation welcomes views on how to define both 'sheltered' and 'extra care'.
There will be a further, more detailed consultation next year linked to the new funding design for sheltered and extra care provision, as part of the new rent standard, again for England only.
Short-term supported housing
Funding for short-term supported housing will be devolved to Scotland from April 2020, at a level equivalent to that which would otherwise have been available through the welfare system.
The proposed definition for short term accommodation, set out in the consultation, is 'Accommodation with support, accessed following a point of crisis or as part of a transition to living independently, and provided for a period of up to two years or until transition to suitable long-term stable accommodation is found, whichever occurs first'.
This accommodation will include hostels, refuges and safe houses, accounting for around nine per cent of total supported housing provision. This accommodation provides support to people experiencing or at risk of domestic abuse, people experiencing homelessness with support needs; vulnerable young people (such as care leavers or teenage parents), offenders and ex-offenders, people with mental ill health, people with drug and alcohol support needs and vulnerable armed forces veterans among others.
In England, the model set out in the consultation means that this provision will be commissioned at a local level, funded locally through a ring-fenced grant, and underpinned by a new local planning and oversight regime.
However, in Scotland, we wish to work with local government and providers to consider this option alongside a broader range of potential options for how to distribute the funds in Scotland with the wider sector over the coming months.
To ensure that the amount of money that is devolved meets the needs of the sector we will work with the UK Government, providers and local authorities to ensure the data gathered on existing costs is robust and enable service users to continue to be supported.
Long-term supported housing
Long-term supported housing will remain in the welfare system and the UK Government has committed to working with the sector to develop and deliver arrangements to ensure value for money.
DWP officials have indicated that they will still need to work to find a longer term practical solution to keep this money within the welfare system due to the move to Universal Credit by 2022.
A Supported Accommodation Steering Group of stakeholders has been set up to take forward the Scottish Government's response to the changes. They will meet approximately every two months.
The UK Government consultations are open for comments until 23 January. While the consultation on the plans for sheltered and extra care housing apply to England, Scottish stakeholders will need to consider whether the change of policy in England will have any impacts on Scotland. For the consultation on short term housing, the detail set out applies primarily to England but with funding being devolved stakeholders will also wish to consider potential impacts on Scotland.
Both consultations ask questions about definition and the Scottish Government think it is vitally important that we the agreed definitions work in Scotland in the same way as they do in England, and would suggest that stakeholders factor this into any response.
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