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Supporting People Distribution Formula

Response received from Phil Woolas MP

Letter sent on 19 September 2005 from the Chairman to David Miliband MP

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Government Association ( HIOW ) represents all the principal councils (County, Unitary and District) in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight , the Hampshire Fire Authority and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Police Authority. The Local Associations of Parish and Town Councils are also members.

I am writing to express the Association’s grave concern at your current  proposals to introduce a radical redistribution of funding allocated to local authorities for the provision of housing related support under the Supporting People programme.

Hampshire has been a leading authority in developing supported housing since the late 1980’s. Links between the County Council and the District Councils have been cited for many years as an example of good practice, at least as far back as Local Authority Circular 92/10 in the early 1990s. We have worked closely with the Housing Corporation for many years to ensure that investment is well targeted at need. The result is that Hampshire has a wide range of established good quality services.

Hampshire authorities saw Supporting People as a tremendous opportunity to continue with the work of providing good quality “ordinary” housing for a wide range of people with support needs, but we did not want to abuse the Transitional Housing Benefit (THB) system. As a result a working group and protocol were established between the County Council and the eleven District Council Housing Benefit departments. A protocol was also established with the then Care Standards Commission  to ensure that there were no inappropriate “deregistrations” of registered care homes simply to take advantage of the new funding.

Since the Supporting People programme went live in April 2003 the Hampshire and Isle of Wight authorities have put in place a number of measures to ensure that we are working towards maximising value for money. No service provider in Hampshire will receive more than the upper regional quartiles defined by ODPM and we have capped services at £20 per hour. All this has been achieved through co-operation between the commissioning agencies and service providers. 

Hampshire is now in a tremendous position to make real changes to how services are delivered, ensuring the best use of funding and resources, within the clear strategic direction agreed through the Five Year Strategy.

The problem that we are facing is that the proposed distribution formula takes no account of the hard work that has taken place, the numbers of people that are provided for, or the quality and cost effectiveness of the services we host. The ODPM website tells us that we could face massive cuts to services for homeless and other vulnerable people.

One example gives Hampshire £4m per year less than we had available for services in April 2000, before Transitional Housing Benefit came into existence. Overall Hampshire could, if ODPM estimates are correct, end with having to cut a total of £18m from the original £34m housing and support budget.

Implementing these vast cuts will lead to the closure of valued cost effective established services that vulnerable people are currently using.

We are not arguing against a distribution formula based on need. But as yet we have received no explanation as to why this proposed formula gives such a radically different result to other formulas used for similar purposes. For instance under Formula Spending Share (FSS) Hampshire’s allocation would actually increase. FSS applies to approximately 60% of the Supporting People spend, i.e. older people, disabilities, mental health, young people etc.

As we are sure you understand, the uncertainty over the future of the programme is causing enormous concern to service users,  providers and commissioners. The continuing delays in producing a consultation  paper are not helpful in this. As a result we have four requests:

Local Authorities and other commissioning agencies are committed to the success of the Supporting People programme in Hampshire. We do not believe that the very large loss of funding that is being envisaged can be sustained in Hampshire without many thousands of vulnerable people suffering, or that it will lead to good investment decisions in the areas that get 200% plus increases.

We ask you to think again.






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Last update:  04/08/2008
Author:          Nick Goulder, Director


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