Area-based grant will not kick in until 2010, but ring fence axed from April
Support services given a year to persuade councils of their worth
Housing support providers have 12 months to convince councils of the importance of the services they provide after the government decided to stagger changes to the way Supporting People funding is paid.
The Communities and Local Government department has announced that funding protection for housing support services will be lost from next April as feared.
But next year’s £1.66 billion Supporting People pot will now be paid as a separate grant.
The plan to pool the funding into a multi-purpose ‘area-based grant’ for councils to spend as they want has now been postponed until April 2010.
The National Housing Federation said it would use the transitional year to raise the profile of what Supporting People can achieve.
Housing support consultancy Sitra will team up with the government to stage discussion forums in each region to help support providers feed into the change.
And the government is putting together a raft of guidance to help support providers communicate to councils the financial benefits of investing in housing support.
Margaret Malcolm, chief executive of Sitra, said she thought the government had used the postponement to remind councils that ‘this rather large grant going into area-based grant is for supporting vulnerable people in need of housing-related support’.
Ms Malcolm said concerns remained about the long-term survival of housing support services. According to responses from 153 support providers to a Sitra survey last month, 27 per cent of contracts will come to an end by April next year. By the time the separate housing support grant ends in April 2010, 60 per cent of contracts will have expired.
Sue Ramsden, policy leader on care and support at the NHF, said the federation was disappointed the ring fence had been removed, but was pleased that the government had not pooled Supporting People grant with other funding immediately.