On 1 December 2021 the Government published its Social Care White Paper in which a 10-year vision to address adult social care reform was set out. As the name suggests, the “People at the Heart of Care” paper has a person-centred theme and sets out a range of policies to implement over the next 3 years.
As with all policy implementation, funding is key. Of the £1.7 billion package proposed, £300 million is pledged to integrate housing into local health and care strategies with a focus on increasing the range of new supporting housing options available.
The demand for supported housing exists; the paper identifies projected demand for supported housing in England as being set to increase by 125,000 by 2030. So supply needs to be addressed and the Government aims are to expand the choice of housing options and provide the right care in the right place at the right time. The paper recognises that enabling matters are strong leadership and partnerships, long term funding certainty and the wider influence of a wider housing market.
The £300 million proposed for the period of 2022/2023 through to 2025/2026 is aimed at helping local authorities to integrate housing into local health and care strategies by boosting supply of specialist housing and funding improved services for residents. The policy hope is that this then creates a positive cycle for innovation and private investment.
Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs) will take on a key role and more detail is expected as to how ICPs and Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) will deliver joined up care. The synergy of integrating health care and housing has been discussed for some time as a way to alleviate pressures on all quarters and bring together more person centred outcomes but whether the wheels will sufficiently turn between all organisations to properly integrate remains to be seen as so far any integration appears to have happened within localised pockets.
Crucially for supported housing providers and developers and particularly private Registered Providers of housing in addition to the Affordable Homes Programme 2021-2026 investment is to continue in the Care and Support Specialised Housing (CASSH) Fund with £71 million per year capital funding available between 2022/2023 and 2025/2026. The CASSH Fund aims to support and accelerate the delivery of specialist affordable housing, which meets the needs of older people and adults with disabilities or mental health problems. Some RPs and local authorities will already be familiar with the CAASH Fund which is distributed between the GLA and Homes England; the current fund is available to developers building a variety of specialised housing with the programme reported to have funded schemes totalling £112m. With funding for further years, it is anticipated that this will incentivise the supply of all forms of specialised housing providing the desired cycle of investment and innovation.
Whilst additional capital funding for the development of more supporting housing will be welcomed by some the supported housing sector has a range of needs and there remain questions around funding for other reforms which go hand in hand with any development funding.