We have recently completed consultations on the funding models for short-term supported housing and sheltered housing, and will provide a response in due course. We will come forward with our proposals for long-term supported housing by 2020.
My hon. Friend is making some useful and valued changes. Will he assure the House that accommodation costs for short-term supported housing such as women’s refuges will continue to be funded at existing levels, with the new grant to local authorities being ring-fenced?
It is typical of my hon. Friend that she has the welfare of her most vulnerable constituents at the forefront of her mind. I can confirm that the current proposal on which we have just consulted is that the section 31 grant paid to local authorities for provision of refuges and other short-term supported housing will be ring-fenced.
The Government’s proposals are an improvement on their initial proposals, but one element has brought criticism from virtually all providers, and that is with regard to short-term supported housing. My Select Committee has recommended that for emergency very short-term accommodation of around 12 weeks, there should be a ring-fenced grant to local authorities. The Government have changed the definition of short term from 12 weeks to two years, which all providers have condemned. Will the Government think again and bring accommodation lasting two years into the welfare system?
We are in receipt of a significant number of responses to the consultation, which only closed a couple of weeks ago, and we will consider those over the months to come. I would be more than happy to meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss those concerns with his constituents if they wish to do so.
The Government have promised that all short-term provision currently funded by the welfare system will continue to be funded at the same level by local authorities until 2020, but will the Minister confirm that there will be no cut in funding after that?
Given that I am not a Treasury Minister, I am not in a position to confirm that, but it would certainly be our aspiration to provide the current level of support, or indeed enhanced and better performing support, which is the purpose of the changes, in the future.