Talk about creating unnecessary work, uncertainty and a loss of confidence! The government is in a complete mess over the decision to cap rents in specialist supported housing services to that of the Local Housing Allowance from 2019/20.
This has been the most common theme I have written about on this blog since the beginning of 2016. See here, here and here, for some examples, and here for my take on the government’s most recent announcement.
It is an example of a policy announcement without any due diligence or thought being given to the implications.
The government has spent the better part of a year trying to find a way to dig it itself out of the hole it has found itself in, and a couple of weeks ago said a special fund would be made available to local authorities to make up the shortfall needed to fund specialist supported housing that will inevitably result once this measure is implemented.
Now we hear that ministers are considering additional regulations that will force local authorities to spend any extra money it receives on meeting the costs of specialist supported housing.
The money it is going to make available will be ring fenced for an undefined period but, based on the government’s track record, that ring fence is likely to be removed at some point just as the previous funding, Supporting People, had its ring fence removed with predictable consequences. We saw the slashing of funding for special supported housing (not so much in Brighton and Hove or in East Sussex whether the local authorities have shown commendable foresight in preserving the majority of funding), but nationwide we saw the closure of many schemes.
Now the word is that ministers are considering requiring councils to provide “certain types of housing” meaning, specialist supported housing.
I’ve got a novel idea for how the financial viability of these essential services could be stabilised: the government could withdraw its original announcement relating to the cap, and we wouldn’t be facing this potential disaster.
Ronald Reagan once said that the most terrifying nine words in the English language are: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
In relation to specialist supported housing, he got it spot on.