Supported accommodation housing pilot to be launched in Birmingham

Published: Tuesday, 20th October 2020

Today (Wednesday 21 October), Birmingham launches its supported housing pilot after receiving more than £1m (£1,048,244) of new funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The pilot seeks to explore how the provision of supported housing in Birmingham can be improved by:

  • Creating a Charter of Rights to make tenants and their families aware of the service they should expect,
  • Rolling out a Quality Standard for providers of exempt accommodation so that the service they provide meets a high standard,
  • Employing ten additional inspectors and social workers to carry out more inspections on properties to ensure that those living in these properties are not being exploited and are receiving the support they need.

In supported housing, accommodation is provided alongside care, support or supervision to help people live as independently as possible. Those who are often housed in this type of property are the homeless and other vulnerable groups, such as those with support needs or disabilities.

There are currently more than 18,000 units of supported exempt accommodation across the city; however, the local authority has few powers and regulation of this sector is extremely limited even on a national basis.

Exempt accommodation is funded through housing benefit with tenants selecting where they would like to live. This pilot will provide the council with additional resources to scrutinise new applications for exempt status to find whether providers of accommodation are providing the right provision.

Cllr Sharon Thompson, cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods at Birmingham City Council said, “Supported accommodation is essential for thousands of people who rely on it to live as independently as possible. But it is essential that providers honour their commitment to deliver the right support.

“I’m really pleased that we’ve received this funding which will not only help us to champion landlords who are providing a quality service but to have the resource available to be able to effectively monitor those landlords who are not.

“However, we also need stronger regulation for local authorities, Department for Work and Pensions and the Regulator of Social Housing so that those who provide poor standards to their tenants and the communities which they serve, face consequences which will make them change their practices. The pilot in Birmingham will provide important learning to inform the scale of supported housing required and to help shape the provision in terms of quality and standards.”

The Birmingham pilot is also backed by key partners in the city.

Dominic Bradley, group chief executive at Spring Housing Association said, “We are really pleased to work with Birmingham City Council to support their ambition that everyone living in supported accommodation should have the right to decent living conditions, to feel safe and protected, and have access to the right support at the right time.

“What’s special for us is that the Charter of Rights has been co-designed with over 50 people that have experienced homelessness and the charter is a testament to their incredibly hard work over a sustained period, which will now be put into practice to ensure that we get a more consistent approach to this style of housing provision in the city.”

Natalie Allen, programmes director at Birmingham Voluntary Services Council said, “BVSC are delighted to be part of the Birmingham pilot into the use of Exempt Accommodation across our city. The introduction of the Quality Standards will improve the consistency of support offered to individuals and allow referring agencies to identify those providers delivering quality support.”

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