Supported Housing – Preventative Value Revisited

Posted: 12th July 2023 Kirsty Hickson - Consultant, Peter Latham - Principal Consultant

On the 10th of May, the National Audit Office released its report, ‘Investigation into supported housing’. The report is a synthesis of information already known about the supported housing sector, covering how supported housing works, challenges in this type of housing; and the actions taken by the Government to improve supported housing.

By admission, the report does not make recommendations, investigate the quality of care and support, or review actions taken to increase supply; Nor does it offer any evaluation of the value for money of supported housing. But it does draw together a tidy picture of the direction of travel.

It is well-regarded that supported housing plays a crucial role in not only providing accommodation and support to vulnerable individuals but also helping to offer preventative intervention and reducing the demand for statutory services such as; Local authority-funded care, hospital services, police, and mental health provision. However, in the effort to address the well-founded concerns regarding some supported housing provisions, is there a danger of losing sight of the value and flexibility of this preventative angle?

Whether the supported housing sector offers value for money is complex and subjective. Those around long enough to remember will recall the attempts to defend the ringfence of Supporting People funding and the subsequent high-profile return on investment calculations of the preventive benefits.

In today’s context, do we need to revisit those assessments to remind us of that preventative benefit? In a world of increased rents and service charges, Intensive Housing Management, and Specialist Supported Housing, is such a calculation still possible? The report by the National Audit Office highlights high-profile data availability issues and that no single department is responsible for strategically addressing this deficit.

The Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Bill intends to task local authorities with mapping their supported housing need and having a strategic delivery plan; it is yet to emerge in detail what these will include. However, they could pose an opportunity to reset the supported housing value for money measurement and re-embrace the preventative value perspective.

It is vital to acknowledge that the vast majority of providers of supported housing in the UK are committed to providing high-quality, person-centred services that meet the needs of their residents. These providers that can usually be relied upon actively want to demonstrate the full scope of the positive impact they provide.

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