Supported Housing

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:10 pm on 12th July 2016.

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Photo of Peter Aldous Peter Aldous Conservative, Waveney 6:10 pm, 12th July 2016

I thank the hon. Lady for that intervention. This evening’s interventions started off with an East Anglian flavour, but they have now widened to cover the whole country. This is very much a national crisis. Going back to East Anglia, however, a housing association active in Suffolk has emphasised to me the importance of a long-term plan. It says that it cannot run a business with a 10-year outlook on the back of local authority annual discretionary housing payments.

An organisation I would like briefly to mention is Emmaus. It was set up in the UK 25 years ago just outside Cambridge by Selwyn Image. It now has 28 communities across the UK supporting more than 700 vulnerable people, with the objective of increasing that figure to 1,000 by 2020. It needs the seedcorn of a stable funding regime in order to set up new communities such as All Hallows at Ditchingham, which is near Bungay in the constituency of my hon. Friend Mr Bacon but which also serves my constituency and several others in the surrounding area. Ultimately, with the right initial support, Emmaus communities are self-funding. Research shows that the social return on investment in its communities, using the Treasury’s recommended discount rate of 3.5%, is £11 for every £1 invested. In addition, the present value of savings to the state is nearly £6 million per annum for a contribution of just over £2.7 million in housing benefit.

Providing the right long-term investment framework will also encourage the provision in new developments of adaptive technologies, which not only enhance residents’ lives but can also produce significant cost savings for local commissioning councils, releasing funds for investment elsewhere. Research by HB Villages shows that the introduction of adaptive technologies can produce savings of between £3 million and £7.8 million—7% to 20% of budget—in a typical council.

In conclusion, I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response and hope that he will answer the following questions. How is the evidence review going? When will the results be available? Are the wide range of interested parties in the sector being consulted? What is the impact of the roll out of universal credit? Will he give early confirmation tonight that the threat of the crude local housing allowance cap will be removed after next April? In putting in place the new framework for the future funding of supported housing I urge the Government to be sympathetic and visionary and to think strategically. It is important for the futures of so many vulnerable people that the Government pursue such a course.