Public Accounts Committee inquiry into Supported Housing – June 2023 

Evidence and comments for the inquiry 

Responsibilities for supported housing: 


  • Greater local powers to be given to control the development and growth of schemes, as the only current way to control development is through the planning process and currently many new supported living proposals can be established outside of the planning process. 
  • Clear guidance needed from central government on how new supported schemes can be controlled and stopped from opening if they do not meet the needs of intended residents/local community.  



Central and local oversight on supported housing: 


  • Key challenge in meeting the needs of individuals who need appropriate step-down from hospital and rehabilitation into supported housing environment, supporting complex and overlapping presentations - [Autism, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), forensic, drug & alcohol abuse, and aggressive behaviour issues. Personality difficulties presenting with self-harm and chronic suicidal behaviour].  
  • Skilled & experienced staff that can manage dealing with challenging behaviour.  
  • Move on through the care pathway in particular the step down into their own tenancy - affordable housing. 
  • Sourcing properties to sustain affordable supported housing models is challenging. Significant increased demand for Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) which is putting pressures not just on accommodation but also education and health. 
  • Multidisciplinary approach to create consistency, quality, and standards. This process will ensure all supported accommodation provision is subject to cross-Council checking prior to the service being agreed. This will prevent saturation in localities and ensure quality and standards.  
  • Creating secure gateways. 
  • Extreme competition for limited supply of buildings for sale or sites for build, Registered Providers are often losing out to private developers who can be more agile with their funding and acquisitions. However, the complexities of subsequent lease models and the accommodation built by some developers not being bespoke to the client group, presents a risk to RPs (Registered Providers) approached to lease those private developer schemes. 
  • Need for better protections for vulnerable residents are put in place. The current position provides little protection for vulnerable residents within these schemes and can result in excessive rents being charged.  
  • Priority to meet the growing demand for specialist supported accommodation to meet the needs of the Transforming Care citizens who are delayed in discharge from secure settings into the community. 
  • Ensuring there is a partnership approach. 
  • Challenges in meeting Mental Health transitions, in particular, women only accommodation.  



Central and local government spending on supported housing: 

  • Older people - Extra Care have just gone through an extensive investment programme, the data and understanding for this was in part gained via commissioning the Housing Lin to review the then available resources and potential future demand. The challenges are the usual ones faced previously, finding the right partners so there is a joint approach to funding an extensive programme of development. 
  • Inability to fund void payments deters RP’s from setting up new supported living services for citizens with complex needs where legal frameworks may delay commencement of tenancy. The risk around this cost can be underwritten by commissioners (as happens in Manchester), with a letter provided to RPs who claim Housing Benefit for new customers who cannot sign a tenancy agreement pending Court of Protection. 
  • There is no funding available for preliminary costs in setting up a new supported living scheme (surveys, planning permission, remodelling costs etc). 
  • We are engaging with developers to include bespoke supported housing to meet care leavers and foster carers needs. These though are long-term investments and will require 5-10 years to materialise. Collaborative work with our existing housing providers includes the development of the Enabling Independence Accommodation Strategy to map out future demand. 
  • To improve the current level of residential type supported accommodation, skill, training increase the level of care, enhanced supported accommodation which included psychologically informed environments service model. Review the pricing models to obtain benchmarking using available tools. Improve the move on and step down into the community. More integration with LD and Health to pool available resources. 
  • Funding does not keep up with demand, especially when implementing quality i.e., Decent Homes Standard, energy efficiency etc. Although the fire safety/damp and disrepair agendas, which can impact more on shared supported living type schemes have secured some small rent increases for some providers. 
  • High build costs are a challenge, and the provision of supported housing is even more expensive because of the necessary spec enhancements needed to ensure that the accommodation meets the needs of our residents. These high costs need to be reflected in capital funding. 
  • Delivery partners are asking for the rent standard and rent models to reflect the reality of what it costs to provide Supported Housing which is expensive to develop and to run properly. An Affordable Rent must accommodate a high service charge and to provide social rented units the capital investment must be very high – often grant is currently required to cover more than two thirds of the build and land costs of any particular social rented SH scheme. Good quality high spec 1 bed units can cost over £150,000 each to deliver in Manchester. The out-turn rents needed to support viability are often too high to fit within current rent models and requirements.  
  • Long term spends to save efficiencies made when we can move people out of expensive institutional accommodation like hospitals into their own tenancies with good levels of support and care. Supported housing can make significant savings in health care expenditure and this should be reflected in more Health funded capital grant funding streams. 
  • In ensuring all care leavers accommodation is Ofsted registered, more work is required with registered providers to ensure this can be appropriately resourced to protect and increase supply of accommodation and support.  
  • Work towards a clearer, more consistent, and efficient approach to the release of public land to support the strategy of providing enough good quality supported housing. A more coherent and co-ordinated approach in terms of land release to RPs, specification and design briefs would be welcomed by RPs.  


Quality of the data available on supported housing: 


  • Improved data capture to understand the full cost of supported housing both specified / non-specified to improve monitoring and benchmarking. 
  • LAs should be required to review and update their data systems regarding “people, property and providers” to provide an intelligent analytical system which not only provides information regarding need and demand and forecasting but also the quality of the services provided and their cost and VFM.  
  • Client tracking as part of this system would assist with safeguarding, ensuring that people do not fall between the cracks and move on. There needs to be data management in the supported housing sector in the same way that there was during the Supporting People programme. 



The regulation of supported housing: 


  • Need for reform of the Housing Benefit subsidy arrangements so that LAs (Local Authorities) are reimbursed 100% for high quality schemes irrespective of the status of the housing provider. This should also be extended beyond the ‘not for profit’ sector, with some supported housing rent cap levels being introduced for the private sector. 
  • Need for reform of the HB (Housing Benefit) rules around exempt accommodation to make it fit for purpose and to help improve quality and value for money. They should not be such a blunt instrument that simply excludes certain provision and should be strong enough to prevent exploitative practice. 
  • More powers for LAs to prevent schemes simply being able to set up without agreement / permission of the LA (Local Authority). 



The government’s current and proposed actions to improve supported housing. 


  • Full implementation of the DLUHC (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) Committee enquiry recommendations. 
  • Need to introduce controls that provide for quality, value for money and affordability. 
  • Need to clamp down on those exploiting the lease-based model for profit and ensure there is full transparency around ownership structures / prevent brass plate arrangements.  
  • Create one regulatory framework for all supported housing providers with an accompanying financial package that would enable Local Authorities to monitor the accommodation to ensure it is value for money.  
  • Regular quality and standards inspections across all provision, and the finances to be able to put this in place.