Clearly the threat of discontinued funding is a significant concern. But your survey reinforces the view that there will not be an instant loss of funding and services because of these changes. This gives some time for action - and it is vital that both providers and authorities are equipped with the right tools to move the agenda forward.
The supported housing sector must recognise its strengths and have the confidence and capacity to communicate them to key decision-makers.
A There are very few areas of public expenditure which can produce as much evidence of need, service quality and outcomes as SP can.
A Research for the Communities and Local Government department published last year shows the cost benefits of preventative work. For the £1.7 billion spent nationally on SP it was shown that a net sum of £2.6 billion was saved.
A Supported housing makes a significant contribution to local strategic aims. Authorities and regions are beginning to map the contribution made to wider objectives around crime, social cohesion and social exclusion and the Audit Commission has made it clear that the quality of services to vulnerable people will be a key component of its comprehensive area assessment.
Decision-making about supported housing will become much less uniform with the disappearance of the ring fence. However, it is clear that for supported housing to survive there needs to be more effective engagement between commissioners, providers and decision-makers in local authorities and local strategic partnerships.
There are concerns that services will be lost, without anyone noticing until it is too late. But for providers there are opportunities for more creative approaches. It is important not to set our faces against the positive aspects of having greater flexibility.
Additionally, I am not confident that the continuation of the ring fence would have provided any greater protection against the next comprehensive spending review.
Sitra doesn’t deny the very real anxieties within the sector. But it is up to those of us working in the sector to promote the positive elements of the national programme. We need to work to ensure the voices of services users are heard above those who might seek to engage in an unsightly scrabble for the spoils of SP.
Vic Rayner, chief executive, Sitra