Local councils are to be given funding to improve the standard of supported housing, as the government aim to drive up standards.
Those living in poor-quality supported housing who receive little to no support from the providers will see significant improvements, as part of a plan to tackle unscrupulous landlords, as well as a bid to improve the standard of housing in the UK.
Councils in Birmingham, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, and Hull will receive more than £6 million in funding from the government’s Supported Housing Improvement Programme, worth £20 million, so that more frequent and thorough inspections of supported housing can be carried out.
Eddie Hughes, Minister for Rough Sleeping, said:
“While there are many excellent supported housing providers in the market, we know there are a minority that are shamelessly taking advantage of vulnerable residents, and we are committed to ending this practice.
“This funding will allow Birmingham, Blackburn with Daren, Blackpool, and Hull to build on their successful pilot schemes. This work is already benefitting local communities by tackling poor practice and improving conditions for vulnerable tenants.”
Supported housing helps vulnerable tenants by providing accommodation, care, support, or supervision for those who may have experienced homelessness, mental health issues, or domestic abuse, and schemes providing supported housing should provide tenants with the skills and confidence needed to enter longer-term accommodation and live more independent lives.
Whilst many residents receive good quality support, the government is well aware of the fact that there are instances of landlords providing unacceptable standards of support, whilst also charging ‘extortionate’ rents.
Leader of Blackpool Council, Cllr Lynn Williams, said:
“We have developed clear pathways for providers that enables them to understand what is needed in Blackpool and enables the development of schemes in the right place for the right people delivering value for money for the public purse.
“The funding that has been announced today gives us the opportunity to build on these strong foundations and really take forward our work with both providers and people who benefit from supported housing to ensure that the standards are embedded consistently, and we support the development of schemes that help people maintain and increase their independence.
“We ae unapologetic about offering not only support but challenge to the market to make sure that the supported housing schemes in Blackpool deliver great outcomes.”
Providers who fail to live up to the standards being set will face action, with councils having the power to issue penalty charge notices, prohibition orders that can stop part or all of the building being used, or to prosecute those who provide accommodation at such a low standard that it poses a risk to the health and safety of residents.
The announcement of this funding follows successful pilots in the four councils that are being given the funding, with the pilot schemes helping them to carry out over 1,000 inspections of supported housing properties. An independent valuation deemed the pilots able to have a positive impact on the councils’ abilities to manage their local supported housing, as they were able to establish effective and innovative ways of working, take action to improve standards, as well as ensuring that costs are reasonable for the tenants.