The Committee of Public Accounts (PAC) published this report on 10th November 2023, with recommendations to government. The Government has two months to respond. The report finds that a lack of data is hampering efforts to improve the challenge-riddled sector and that demand outstrips supply, leaving people without needed homes or support.
The full report details the challenges in supported housing as well as the issues faced by local authorities in relation to licencing, fraud and funding gaps and makes six conclusions and recommendations to the Goverment:
- Once the new data from a 'snapshot' commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) is available, DLUHC should set out within six months how central government is maximising efforts to get supply of supported housing to meet demand, for example, through the Affordable Homes Programme.
- Exempt accommodation was found in a House of Commons Committee report from 2022 to be a 'complete mess'. DLUHC should set out how it intends to support local authorites to implement the Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act 2023 effectively, improve short-term supported housing and protect vulnerable residents.
- Without reliable data, the DWP and DLUHC cannot assess and therefore resolve problems with supported housing. They should summarise what they are currently doing, along with plans for future work, to radically improve and keep up to date, their data on demand, supply, and costs of supported housing while minimising the burden on local authorities.
- The Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act 2023 gives local authorities more powers over providers of supported housing but there is a risk of unintended consequences, including discouraging good quality providers. DLUHC should assess how local authorities can set up licensing schemes with appropriate levels of fees that will deter poor providers and encourage good quality supported housing.
- Local authorities have limited capacity to deal with fraud in Housing Benefit claims for supported housing. DWP should inform the Committee about how it intends to identify the level of fraud in Housing Benefit for supported housing and how it will better support local authorities, including funding, to tackle this fraud.
- Some local authorities face increasing gaps in their budgets because of the way DWP Housing Benefit regulations work. As part of the consultation with local authorities on the Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act 2023, DWP should consider how to reduce subsidy loss, and then implement solutions.