THE head of one of the UK’s largest housing providers is warning that vulnerable people in need of supported accommodation are facing an uncertain future due to lack of clarity over funding for supported housing.
Mark Henderson, chief executive of North East based Home Group, is backing calls from the National Housing Federation demanding Government urgently clarifies its position on whether vulnerable people, living in accommodation where they also receive support in their day to day lives, will be subject to a Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cap.
The Government is introducing LHA as part of efforts to reduce the welfare bill announced last November. Mr Henderson says housing providers need clarity on the longer term position. He has also warned that funding from Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) will not be a sufficient alternative should the LHA cap be applied to supported housing.
He said: “Supported housing providers when looking at a service are looking at a three year period. That’s the standard term Commissioners are looking for and few providers are able to commit to new contracts with the current uncertainty.
“As we approach a new financial year services are more rapidly closing down because of this lack of clarity over the Government’s position. We understand there is a review going on but as things stand Supported Housing will still be capped. I’m not convinced by suggestions that DHP will be able to cover any short fall.
“We’ve seen massive variations from differing local authorities on their willingness to grant DHP to those affected by welfare reform. Nationally only 46% of the DHP funding pot made available to local authorities by central Government has been spent. DHP can’t be the answer when it clearly is not getting to those in need of it.
“Services are closing every week and vulnerable people are being left without the support they need. Government has suggested it has no intention to apply LHA to supported accommodation but housing providers can’t operate on suggestion. We need long term certainty and the people we support deserve reassurance.”
Mr Henderson warns that the taxpayer and cash strapped NHS could bear the brunt of mass closures of social care funded supported housing services as vulnerable people seek alternative support in more expensive clinical settings such as A&E.