Housing associations call for long-term plan for supported housing
Three of Scotland’s largest housing associations have joined together to urge the Scottish Government to find a long-term solution on how to fund supported housing to better meet the challenge of an ageing population and help with better integration of health and social care services across the country.
In a briefing document published today, housing associations Bield, Hanover and Trust (BHT) expressed their concern that changes to the benefits system could lead to a reduction in services for those in enhanced housing management, retirement, sheltered and very sheltered housing, as well as block the supply of older persons supported housing across Scotland.
BHT have also called for clarity around short-term funding for this type of accommodation.
Under proposed changes to the benefits system, Housing Benefit will be capped at the level of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) which was established to control Housing Benefit for rent levels in the private sector.
BHT believe a blanket approach applying LHA to public sector rents will have severe and long-lasting consequences for older people, including:
BHT estimate that the impact in their properties alone would be:
The LHA is regionally based and is set by the Scottish Government.
Whilst there have been commitments given that a ‘top up’ fund will be made available for supported housing, the lack of certainty over the funding arrangements presents a major risk for Bield, Hanover and Trust, creating short-falls which could result in the reduction in the provision of supported housing. This would put significant additional pressure on local acute services, already operating at breaking point in many areas.
BHT have set out a 5-point plan to solve these and begin to plan effectively for the future:
Helen Murdoch, chief executive of Hanover Scotland, said: “Government policies such as the welcome focus on closer working between health and social care rely heavily on the services provided at sites operated by Bield, Hanover and Trust.
“We all appreciate the work already done by the Scottish Government and others to address the complex and challenging problems facing the supply and provision of supported housing but believe there is more that could be done to plan for the future.
“We want to work with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders to find effective ways of funding housing and support services for older people in both the immediate term and into the future. Without this, costs on the public purse are likely to increase significantly as more pressure is put onto acute services.”