The Housing LIN welcomes the introduction of the Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act (opens new window). Along with many partners in the supported housing sector, we have shared concerns about both the rise of non-commissioned supported housing services and concerns about the standards of the accommodation and the quality of the support provided for tenants in some supported housing.
Whilst the national quality standards for supported housing are yet to be published by the Government, we have worked with a number of supported housing providers that already have comprehensive and effective quality standards and assurance systems in place that ensure tenants receive a high quality service. It is to be hoped that the forthcoming consultation about the proposed quality standards to be applied to supported housing, will be influenced by and reflect current good practice amongst many supported housing providers.
We welcome the introduction of the licensing system set out in the Act. It has been apparent for a long time that gaining access to the specified/exempt Housing Benefit regime has incentivised some investors and housing providers to enter the sector primarily for the financial returns it can generate when compared with other forms of housing investment and provision. The new licensing arrangements should, in theory, enable local authorities to ensure that organisations providing supported housing are fit and proper organisations to be providing housing for people with support needs, as the majority of providers currently are, alongside the requirement to meet the proposed national quality standards for supported housing.
There are legitimate concerns from providers about the potential administrative burden of the proposed licensing system when operating across more than one local authority boundary; it would be helpful if the guidance from Government on licensing is proportionate in balancing the need for local authorities, rightly, to ensure that providers are fit and proper organisations to be providing supported housing, whilst minimising the administrative burdens on bona fide providers operating across more than one local authority area.
The Act requires that all local authorities in England must undertake an assessment of need for supported housing in their area and develop a plan to meet this need, at least every 5 years. We had already seen a trend over the last couple of years for more local authorities to undertake assessments of the need for different types of supported and specialist housing and to use this evidence to develop a commissioning plan or strategy in response to this identified need. In anticipation of the requirements in the Act, we expect this trend to accelerate.
Indeed, our own recent research for the Learning Disability and Autism Housing Network revealed that there will be a shortfall of c27,000 to c34,500 units of supported housing by 2037, or around c1,800 to c2,200 units per annum. With this in mind, we have already supported a considerable number of local authorities and their partners to develop the type of evidence base and a subsequent plan to address this gap, as required by the Act. We have also assisted a number of supported housing providers in relation to anticipating the likely national quality standards. With the Act becoming law on 29 August 2023, it is now time to take decisive action and raise standards and improve the quality of support in supported housing.
If you would like to discuss the implications of the Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act for your organisation, please do get in touch by emailing us at email@example.com.
And, if you found this of interest, check out our dedicated web resources on supported housing.