Four government-backed pilot schemes aimed at driving up standards in the short-term supported housing sector are being extended, with ministers pledging an extra £2.3m.
Eddie Hughes: “It is unacceptable that some vulnerable people are living in sub-standard supported accommodation, receiving insufficient help that does not meet their needs”
Test initiatives were launched in Hull, Blackpool, Bristol, Blackburn and Bristol last October, with an initial backing of £3m. The aim is to help develop a national policy on supported housing.
Last week the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said that the pilots – apart from Bristol – will now be extended for another six months to allow “innovative” new approaches to be tested.
The pilots will include inspections of properties to “crack down on the small number of landlords who provide poor-quality homes and inadequate support to the vulnerable people living there”, MHCLG said.
The specialised supported housing sector, particularly organisations operating a lease-based model, has come under increasing scrutiny from the Regulator of Social Housing in the past couple of years, and the body has launched a number of investigations of providers and handed out downgrades.
Eddie Hughes, minister for rough sleeping and housing, said: “It is unacceptable that some vulnerable people are living in sub-standard supported accommodation, receiving insufficient help that does not meet their needs.”
He added: “We are determined to take action to drive up standards across the sector and by extending the pilots in Birmingham, Hull, Blackpool and Blackburn we can continue to test innovative new approaches.”
The pilots are focused on short-term supported accommodation, which is often for vulnerable people who are homeless, have mental health issues or have experienced domestic abuse, MHCLG said.
As a result of the pilots, Mr Hughes said that the government would develop “long-term nationwide solutions”.
Last week’s announcement was welcomed by the National Housing Federation. Chief executive Kate Henderson said that the pilots are “an important step towards promoting high standards in supported housing – something which housing associations are absolutely committed to”.
She added: “The extension and additional funding will give local authorities and housing associations a chance to complete the in-depth work they set out to do.”
Bristol City Council did not submit a bid for funding for phase two of the scheme, MHCLG said.
However, the department said that the council will “still carry out inspections and monitoring of the city’s supported housing units in the coming months”.
A national statement of expectation was also published last October, alongside the pilots. It details the standards and quality expected by the government in supported housing and best practice across the sector.