Reply To: Supported accommodation – abuse or not?


The DWP have had plenty of opportunities to tackle this issue, but just don’t appear to want to grasp the nettle.

In my opinion, much of the trouble with Supporting People stems from the DWP not giving clear firm guidelines over Transitional Housing Benefit which lead to many service providers and social services departments seeing what was essentially an accounting mechanism to identify the amount to be transferred out of HB to SP as an “exciting new source of funding” resulting in the SP pot being twice as large as expected and thereby causing the current crisis in that budget.

There was also a real mismatch between that information that did come out of DWP and that which came out of the ODPM (as was).

The one really useful report (THB a tripartite approach) was never generally distributed and I for one only came across it by accident searching on the web for something else. Other DWP internal reports identified problems in THB early on, but the recommendations were not acted upon.

The DWP have said they were going to address this “old” Reg 11 issue a couple of times.

“January 2005 – HB Direct
We are aware that a growing number of you are increasingly facing a subsidy shortfall for certain vulnerable tenants in supported accommodation because you are unable to restrict the rent through the ‘saved‘ version of HB regulation 11, as suitable alternative accommodation is not available. We will be undertaking a review of the HB arrangements in this area within the next months and will keep you informed of developments.”

August 2005 – HB Direct.
“Rising costs of supported accommodation
Over recent months a growing number of you have expressed concern over the level of rents being charged for supported accommodation and the difficulty you face in restricting rents for these old scheme cases. There have also been concerns raised about the subsidy shortfall as the rents are far higher than the rent officer’s determination of a claim-related rent.

You have described situations where social services and health authorities turned to existing charities and recognised voluntary groups to provide suitable supported housing for their clients. These groups turned to property companies, commonly associated to these groups’ advisors or consultants, who purchased accommodation to suit the prospective tenant’s needs. They allegedly purchase the property with short-term business loans for which the repayments need to be covered by correspondingly very high rents.

We are currently looking into the extent to which private companies are looking to maximise profits by taking advantage of the more beneficial provisions for old scheme cases.

We would be interested to hear of your experiences with individuals, companies, voluntary organisations, housing associations, etc who appear to be taking advantage of old scheme rules by trying to fit within the definition of ‘exempt accommodation’ and charging high rents. If you could send us any details, we’d be very grateful. In the meantime we will keep you posted.”

G2 2005 talked a good game, but without changes in legislation it just won’t stick at appeal. So why are we still waiting for legislation changes?