The Government has announced that supported housing will continue to be funded by the welfare system, and it is no longer considering moving funding to council grants.
Supported housing is accommodation with support (and sometimes care) provided. The level of support can vary considerably depending on individual needs and can provide a lifeline for many people who are too unwell to live entirely independently.
Usually, rent for supported housing is paid through housing benefit. People who receive housing benefit to cover their supported housing rent have rights as a tenant, and the accommodation provider receives rent from each person for property upkeep.
Recently, the Government said that they were planning to change this so that people in short-term supported housing (less than two years’ stay) would no longer be entitled to housing benefit to pay their rent. Instead, councils would give grants to local providers.
On behalf of people with mental health problems, Mind raised three main concerns about the Government’s proposed plans to move supported housing funding to local authorities:
- Removing eligibility of housing benefit to pay for supported housing would have taken power away from tenants who are no longer paying for their accommodation from their own entitlement.
- Imposing a strict two-year limit on stays in short-term supported housing could affect recovery - supported housing is meant to be flexible so that staff and tenants can decide together when a tenant is ready to move out.
- Moving funding into local authority grants makes funding less certain, less flexible and less responsive to need. It would also be likely to reduce the diversity of supported housing providers and projects as local authorities are likely to seek to commission large contracts.
The Government has now issued a consultation response and made a U-turn on this decision after listening to the concerns of charities like Mind.
Ellie White, Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer at Mind, said:
“We’re hugely relieved by today’s announcement that funding for supported housing will remain in housing benefit. This is very good news for the many people with mental health problems who need to live in this type of accommodation because they’re too unwell to live entirely independently.
"We’re pleased the Government has listened to our concerns and decided against their ill-advised proposed plans to move supported housing funding to local authorities. We will be keeping an eye on the promised ‘robust oversight regime’, particularly as more people with mental health problems are moved on to Universal Credit.”