Supporting People - only for the specialists?
08/07/2008 5:51 pm
Housing association giant L&Q recently announced it was pulling out of the Supporting People market because it was losing money from delivering SP services. Do general needs housing associations have a future in the competitive world of SP commissioning?
Sort: Newest first | Oldest first
08/07/2008 6:06 pm
some associations depend on it - Family Mosaic have huge supporting people contracts worth millions - can't see them pulling out
10/07/2008 12:17 pm
Two points. L&Q are by no means the first RSL to pull out of SP or even the first to pull out citing that providing SP services actually costs them money. To dwell on that latter point L&Q and other providers are actually subsidising the tax payer if and when it costs themto deliver SP services - that point is often lost on commissioners and others.
The second is that is SP commissioning 'competitive?' A huge rangeof so-called cost effective criteria and so-called cost-effective baseline figures have been laid down either centrally, regionally or locally (and in other pilot programmes) that claim to havedriven down the overall cost of delivering SP.
The common perception is that costs have reduced overall yet they have not. If you divide the aggregate amountof SP funding at inception in 2003 by the number of recipients, then this shows that the cost person has increased. This is because while SP funding has decreasedmarkedly in actual terms and in real terms, the numberof recipients of services has reduced by far more. From 1.23m persons to around 1m persons a stark decrease.
SP is a dead duck. It is no more than simply another general funding stream for local authorities tospen as they see fit - whether this be to supplement or offset social car deficits or any other reason that authorities see fit.
Given that SP set out to put support funding on a secure legal and financial footing it has failed miserably.
Is it any wonder that providers whether large RSLs or the smallest charity see SP as a risk too far and therefore exit the market?
22/07/2008 11:03 pm
Hi Joe We seem to follow each other around these sites.
The thing is that there is no clear cut service that SP intend to provide . When I questioned my local SP what they intended to spend the money which they had saved by reduction in Sheltered Housing services they had no response and rather lamely said 'We hope to fill in the gaps' But, I have listed a few organisations on my web-site which have beaten them to it by a number of years. These committed people have been supplying a free service covering just about every aspect for the elderly. The truth is, there are no, or very few gaps. It follows that Supporting People can only move out into these areas by usurping the existing free organisations . The real danger of their woolly ambition is that by barging in they will convert hitherto free services into state supported services as an everlasting burden on the taxpayer
23/07/2008 8:48 am
Vernon - there are huge gaps nationwide and in every authority. Unfortunately, you state there are no gaps in provision to older persons in your locale, yet older persons are but one (SP conveniently labelled) client grouping.
SP funding was for supported housing and some have argued that sheltered housing is not supported housing - including the head of the largest sheltered housing provider in UK. Further, the same line was taken by age concern and help the age ahead of SPs introdution - that sheltered is not supported housing.
SP was a disaster waiting to happen for sheltered housing and as I have argued elsewhere, it systemically made cat 2 sheltered - or resident wardens - not cost-effective.
What we are left with is a pig's ear that results in some very vulnerable people being shafted by the system and by the ignorance of the consequences by local authority commissioners. The only way they can solve this problem that they largely crated is to demand providers support more service users out of the same pot of money - hence more and more thinly spread floating support - that is simply ineffective and inefficient and unsuitable.
What now is happening is that SP as a separate identity (and ring-fenced funding regime) is being removed so that attention to these failings disappear. SP funds are being subsumed into a larger pot (LAAs) with much less scrutiny than SP resuting in - councils doing what they want with central govt funds that were earmarked specifically for supporting vulnerabl people.
23/07/2008 12:13 pm
Sorry to disagree Joe but there is just about a national organisation to deal with anything from toe nail cutting to debt counseling. The main providers being Age Concern, Help the Aged and Citizen's Advice Bureau , although there are plethora of others too.
I agree with you that Sheltered Housing should never have been singled out and removed from general needs housing and I dislike the term 'Supporting Housing', which although a term to define inclusive Warden services it is, nevertheless, in most people's minds taken to mean that the occupants are all on benefits which they are not. I can only speculate that the decision to leave the word Warden out of the title was because they intended to get rid of the Warden.
Help the Aged have, of course, commissioned the report 'The Impact Of Floating Support Upon The Elderly' and it is still in its draft stages. Age Concern, and I, also sit in on that committee to hear the various stages of the report . For info, they have put a lot of work in and it is coming along quite well
The whole principle is ridiculous as the ring fencing comes off in 2010 and LAAs (County Councils) decided how they wish to spend the money it , as it has already in some places, lead to no funds at all towards Sheltered Housing, but a beautiful new library, and a magnificent car park for their staff.
Nationally a patchwork of Sheltered Housing may still exist on a county by county basis, but it may be a case of move to Surrey if you want to live in Sheltered Housing. However, that situation will only exist as long as those in power in Surrey maintain voting influence. Could be another five years down the road they too decide that a new car park takes precedence. Once funding to Sheltered Housing is lost, it will take a miracle to get it back.
23/07/2008 12:16 pm
If you wish to write an article for my web-site
you are welcome and I will publish it on the 'you said' page
29/07/2008 6:21 pm
There are many supported ‘client groups’ who do not have a national lobby organisation. Even if they did it does not mean that they are listened to and SP is illustrative here. There is no doubt the most powerful lobbies (Age Concern, Help the Aged et al) represent older persons yet even with their power we see sheltered housing and live-in wardens declining significantly.
What sheltered housing has failed to accept and come to terms with is that the cost of resident wardens has to be found from somewhere. If as Vernon maintains tenants have an implied contract with RSLs over them, then do they have an implied contract to pay for them as well? This is the rub of the problem that tenants, providers and local and central government have avoided.
Prior to SP, RSLs charged a tiny amount extra on general needs tenant rents each week to cross-subsidise the cost of resident wardens. That was positive discrimination toward sheltered tenants – and well-known policy at least acquiesced to by all - but discrimination nonetheless. As such a cross-subsidy was no longer allowable – and rightly so – this is what has caused the demise of resident wardens.
In simple terms, the full transparent cost of having live-in warden needed to be found but everyone buried their head in the sand and didn’t address this problem. Now, as the income cannot be raised from tenants due to many reasons not least affordability, resident wardens are being replaced.
I’m sure if we could turn the clock back to 2001/2002 that sheltered providers and the very powerful sheltered lobbies would seek to make their costs wholly transparent and thus achieve SP funding for them. Yet this would still have meant that sheltered tenants would have had to pay more for this service than they do now – a political nightmare for all concerned. The rather unpalatable fact to many tenants and their lobbies is you need to pay for what you get. Prior to SP with the cross-subsidy sheltered tenants had it good with non-sheltered and general needs tenants – i.e. those not receiving the service - paying for them in part. Now sheltered lobby groups are bemoaning the fact that as they don’t pay for them then the services are being withdrawn and diluted.
The same sheltered lobbies tend to forget how and why SP came about. Court of Appeal ruled in the mid-1990s that housing benefit was never meant to pay or support, only for bricks and mortar. As such, all costs charge to the public purse had to be transparent and the cross-subsidies (known as ‘rent pooling’) that sheltered tenants had received would need to stop. The government even gave what in lay terms was a ‘bung’ to council housing and stock-transferred housing organisations to ease the blow. It should be noted that this was not given to other housing associations / RSLs. Further note that some council housing depts received in excess of £1m per year in rent unpooling monies.
So, for more than 10 years the sheltered lobbies have known about this accident waiting to happen and have avoided saying that if tenant want the additional services such as a resident warden then thy need to have it reflected in their rents by paying for that service.
To now commission a report on “The Impact of Floating Support” is much too little much too late as the horse has well and truly bolted.
‘Floating’ support is so termed because
01/08/2008 8:57 am
Yes I agree the report is late but at least it is a report
where there was none.
For the rest of what you say it is very accurate and true, save what is the meaning of 'social landlord' . The correlation between reduced profits and cross subsidies would be very difficult to implement because all enterprises have less profitable areas. and, of course, some 'contracts ' can be less profitable than others.
Some HAs have decided to absorb the loss of revenue from Housing Benefit , others have not. For these others it would be wrong for them to continue to describe their properties as Sheltered Housing because the DNA of Sheltered Housing is its Warden, without a Warden they are OAP dwellings.
It would also be interesting to include the subject of 'self funders' (about 20%) in Sheltered Housing. It seems to me that the service that they had expected and paid for is being arbitrarily removed . At the very least they should be offered substantial compensation for loss of amenity, or to privately establish an amenity in lieu of the one that has been withdrawn and we are talking £ thousands there !
01/08/2008 9:40 am
All SP contracts have to stand on their own two feet and so cannot be cross-subsidised from elsewhere - even from the organisations reserves. If they are found to be so cross-subsidised then guidance is they should not be re-commissioned as their longer-term future is unviable. This goes for any provider, social landlord or even private company.
The rationale here being that vulnerable people deserve a service that is sustainable. This is the correct rationale but highly ironic.
Much sheltered housing pre-SP was category 1 - or non-resident warden and so not much has changed with floating support in that environment. Cat 2 (resident warden) are changing significantly and I agree with the two key points there. Firstly, tenants had agreed and in many cases ONLY agreed to live there because of resident warden. Hence, status quo should remain until a SUITABLE alternative is found.
Secondly, the 20% (to use your figures) of self-payers. This afforability aspect was the main issu in the political nightmare faced by all involved. Yet, burying heads in the sand that did happen here by all was and is simply not good enough. In isolation there is nothing wrong in making self-apyer pay the additionalcot of the additional sevices. Yet, these additional services they had come to expect because that was the way it had always been. Again, many will have only entered sheltered housing because of this position.
However, if in any walk of life-including social policy - it is discovered you have beeen getting something without paying, then this usually means you have to start paying for it. In welfare terms regulations even allow for this past period to be declared a general error and no backpayment is claimed.
Yet, any such 'attack' on this 20% of self-payers would be portrayed as an attackon the entire elderly population and as 40%+ of the electorate is older persons ......
The only way to resolve this dilemma is for status quo to remain whilst a class action case (assuming this is possible) is undertaken
01/08/2008 10:18 am
However, Joe, I assume that HAs that are continuing to provide a Warden are not a part of the Supporting People system. So, the rules applicable to that situation no longer apply .
I should imagine the 40% pensioners is very important because a lot of these have a long distance eye focused on Sheltered Housing as a sort of fail-safe continguency .
The Pensioners Party have recently given quite good backing to this campaign and through other sources have also campaigned in Glasgow East and I understand that Labour have already hotfooted around to at least one Sheltered unit for consultations since that election.
I am not saying that residents of Sheltered Housing swayed the balance but in Glasgow East it only would have needed 160 to have switched alliance and hopefully the PP will step up that campaign elsewhere in the UK
01/08/2008 9:22 pm
Vernon - from my knowledge this is not the case for two reasons. The first is that if HAs dont have SP how can they finance wardens? The second is the argument I hav put forward many times that of economies of scale. Simply if a resident costs £30k pa or circa £600 per week (with all cost found) then if the sheltered scheme has 50 residents each tenant pays £12 pppw.
[ £12 pppw was the national average figure for SP ]
However, if sheltered scheme has only 20 rooms then this would make cost to tenant / SP about £30pppw which SP tend not to pay.
This is the systemic flaw in SP that made most cat 2 schemes uneconomic.
Additionally, some authorities want all services for all client groups to be FS. Their (fundamentally flawed) rationale being the superficial 'funding should follow the person.' This of course conveniently ignores the fact that some serices to some groups have to be accommodation-based to work- cat2, cat 2.5 (as extra care used to be called) DV refuges, homeless hostels, etc. It also conveniently ignores the financial fact that official figures show tht FS is about 8- 15% more expensive per support hour that AB service provision.
21/06/2010 5:12 pm
My organisation delivers services to enable older people to remain independant at home, fitting disability aids and offering one-to-one floating support at home. We have a 95% "excellent" feedback rating from the older people using services, and a recent academic study showed that this preventions work together with a solid partnership and shared referrals model, reduced falls and unplanned admissions to hospital by 90% over two years. I LOVE SP< please let's keep the good points it has, it's a life saver in this context. maybe more suitable for a SME like ours, with no profit motive and a CEO (me) who is on a modest wage, than for a mighty corp?