National Audit Office publishes report on supported housing
The report identifies data and regulation gaps
The National Audit Office (NAO) published a report on its investigation into supported housing on 10 May, which identifies gaps in the data and regulation that is allowing an increasing number of landlords to profit by providing sub-standard and costly housing with little or no support, supervision or care.
The NAO’s investigation, which sets out the facts on how the supported housing system in England works, was instigated by concerns raised by MPs about short-term supported housing. Accordingly, a specific concern revolves around the fact that some types of supported housing are exempt from locally set caps on Housing Benefit which means that providers can charge high rents. Exempt accommodation was the subject of an inquiry in 2022 by the Committee for Levelling up, Housing & Communities, which found that some residents’ experiences of exempt accommodation were ‘beyond disgraceful,’ as well as a lack of regulation and governance of providers.
The key findings in the NAO’s report include that: current gaps in the regulation mean that some supported housing providers are subject to less scrutiny; there is no direct regulation of the quality of the support offered; and a lack of data on exempt accommodation makes it difficult to assess the scale of the problem.
The NAO’s press release mentions that a new private members’ bill aimed at improving supported housing is due to come into force by summer 2023. The bill will develop national standards, require local authorities to review supported housing in their areas, and enable them to create licensing schemes for exempt accommodation.
Supported housing is short- or long-term accommodation that is provided alongside support, supervision or care to help people with specific needs to live independently in the community, which includes older people, people with a learning disability, people with a physical disability, people at risk of or who have experienced homelessness, or people recovering from drug or alcohol dependence.
Commenting on the report’s findings, head of the NAO, Gareth Davies, said “Better data and regulation can be driving forces behind much-needed improvements in supported housing. Assisting local authorities to ably scrutinise landlords can help raise housing standards for some of the most vulnerable people in our society, who deserve far better.”