Pilot providers must deliver results to secure full funding
Supporting People funds aligned to performance
Supported housing providers could be forced to cut services because of plans to withhold contractual payments until they can prove how good they are.
The government announced plans to introduce performance-related payments for Supporting People providers at the Chartered Institute of Housing conference this week.
The idea would see landlords with contracts for the £6 billion SP regime receive 80 per cent of their payment upfront and 20 per cent when the outcomes of their projects can be measured. It will be piloted for two years before a possible national roll-out.
The idea is controversial, though, because SP contracts have already been pared down in many areas of England.
The government made an 11.3 per cent cut to the national SP budget last year. But because the budget is no longer ring-fenced many councils have been accused of raiding the budget even further.
Vicky Harwood, director of supported housing and older persons’ services at Orbit, said: ‘This proposal appears to provide even less financial security for support providers, at a time when SP is already being cut for many providers. Our concern is it could lead to erosion in services as providers seek to mitigate against the extra risk of potentially losing some funding at the end.
‘This is likely to increase the levels of uncertainty and concern for support providers and customers.’
Bruce Moore, chief executive of Hanover, said: ‘The danger is it will create more effort to chase smaller sums of money, and more bureaucracy. Some outcomes for Supporting People are notoriously difficult to measure.’
The Communities and Local Government department said it would pilot four different models of SP provision - not all of which will involve performance-related payments - in 10 areas.
They are Kent, Lewisham, Islington, West Chester and Cheshire, Sheffield, Southend, Stockport, Derbyshire, Torbay, plus a consortium of providers in the east Midlands working with Birmingham Council.
Lorraine Regan, head of strategy and policy for Supporting People at the Communities and Local Government department, said the approach will never be compulsory.
Ram Paul, group manager for accommodation and support at Derbyshire Council, said it would be implementing an 80/20 payment by results system on all its short-term accommodation and floating support services.
A spokesperson for Islington Council said: ‘We have agreed with two providers, One Housing Group and [London homeless charity] SHP, to test the payment-by-results model in supported housing services for young homeless people and substance misusers.’