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Supported housing – a top government priority

Andrew Redfern, Chief Executive

Supported housing can be transformational for individuals and communities. It is a key component of any credible strategy to reduce homelessness and tackle rough sleeping. It reduces the pressure on criminal justice, public health and specialist care services.

To reduce dependence on the state – and literally get the country ‘working’ again – high-quality, user-centred and properly resourced supported housing is essential.

Yet services providing homes with support for vulnerable people – such as those who are homeless, people with mental health or learning disabilities, care leavers and women fleeing domestic abuse, are besieged and struggling to survive.

The threats come from every direction – new regulations, planning restrictions, council de-commissioning, contract value reductions, energy prices, material costs and the national living wage.

Some services have closed their doors already, and many of those that endure are hanging by a thread.

The neglect of supported housing by central and local government is not merely a false economy, but an emerging catastrophe. Its disintegration has exacerbated strain across the whole spectrum of public services. Spending has shifted away from prevention which increases the financial and human cost of crisis management.

The next government must reverse this by re-establishing a secure, ring-fenced fund to meet the support needs of vulnerable people who live in the community. This will enable them to develop the confidence and skills to make their distinctive contribution to a caring, cohesive and prosperous nation.