Supported Housing: Benefit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:58 pm on 20th July 2016.

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Photo of Damian Green Damian Green The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 1:58 pm, 20th July 2016

My understanding is that the matter is completely devolved to Northern Ireland, but if I have misled the House and so the hon. Gentleman I will write to him to correct myself. It is also conceivable that when the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend Caroline Nokes, winds up the debate she may be wiser and better informed than me on that issue. It has been known for junior Ministers at the end of debates to be much better informed than their Secretary of State was at the start—we have all been there.

As has been said, my Department has commissioned an evidence review to look at the shape, scale and cost of the sector. Reform of the funding model was already being considered as worth doing in its own right, on its own merits, long before the LHA cap policy was announced in the last autumn statement. The point has been well made by several hon. Members that this is the first full review of the provision for 20 years, so getting it right is quite important. As I have said, the review is in its final stages, and has already provided some valuable insights that I look forward to sharing with the House once the findings have been confirmed and tested.

The evidence review, discussions with the sector and the policy review undertaken by Government have all made it clear to me that, to fulfil our obligations to those people who rely on such accommodation and support, we must ensure four things. First, there must be appropriate funding to continue to support vulnerable people and sustain this vital sector. Secondly, the accommodation must deliver value for money for both the taxpayer and the individual being supported. Thirdly, those living in supported housing must receive high-quality outcomes and focused care and support. Fourthly, costs must be controlled. We cannot let the welfare bill get out of control. It is important that only those individuals who truly require the provision are able to access it, and that that provision matches genuine local need.

It is clear from the work undertaken so far that although the sector is delivering exemplary services and support in many places, the current system does not deliver on all those objectives. There are genuine problems that need to be addressed. The reformed model that we will produce later this year needs to do more to ensure that value for money is sought by service commissioners and demonstrated by providers. Vitally, I want more focus on the quality of provision and individual outcomes for those who obtain the provision. That is an important next step for the sector.