In September 2016, we announced the extension of the local housing allowance exemption for supported housing until April 2019. We have recently consulted on a reformed funding model for supported housing. We are not doing this to save money; we want to get the right model to deliver improvements in quality and in value for money.
Telford has some excellent supported housing schemes, many of which I have visited, including Rose Manor in Ketley and Vicarage Grove in Dawley. However, supported housing costs can often be higher than the local housing allowance rate. How will the Government’s reforms address that concern?
My hon. Friend makes a good point. Last September, we announced that we would devolve funding to local authorities so that providers could, when necessary, reflect the higher average costs of supported accommodation. This would give local authorities an enhanced role in commissioning supported housing in their area.
The Secretary of State will be aware of the Select Committee inquiry into funding proposals for supported housing. Will he give me an assurance that he will reflect carefully on the overwhelming evidence that we have received, which shows that the local housing allowance rates are not an appropriate basis on which to devise a funding scheme for supported housing?
I can tell the Chair of the Select Committee that the Government hugely value the role that supported housing plays in helping vulnerable people. I take seriously what the Committee has to say, and I know that the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr Jones), has given evidence to its inquiry. I will look at this matter carefully, because I want to ensure that the final model incentivises providers to continue to provide this important type of housing.
I very much welcome the Government’s commitment to the supported housing project and the extra moneys that have been devolved to local authorities for that purpose. However, the local housing allowance cap significantly favours London over the regions. For example, 99% of tenancies in my region will require a top-up from the fund, whereas only 3% of tenancies in London will do so. Would the Secretary of State be prepared to look again at this matter, to ensure that we have a system of supported housing that works for everyone?
I know that my hon. Friend takes a strong interest in these matters, including in his role as a member of the Select Committee. I have listened to him carefully, and others made a similar point during the consultation process. I can assure him that we will look at all the responses carefully and ensure that the final system works for everyone.
The Select Committee inquiry has received evidence that the Government’s approach to supported housing is causing many providers to put new schemes on hold and resulting in some pulling out of providing supported housing altogether. When will the Secretary of State accept that his policy is damaging the provision of housing for our most vulnerable residents, and when will he commit to providing the funding and certainty that the sector needs if it is to provide the supported homes that we need?
It is important that we take a careful look at this policy, precisely because we all want to see a sustainable model that will result in providers providing enough of this type of home. That is exactly what this policy is designed to do, and when we come out with the final policy, that is what it will achieve.