Housing associations providing supported housing and sheltered accommodation during the coronavirus outbreak are facing unique and difficult challenges. Many are at the front line of providing care and support to very vulnerable people, including supporting and caring for people who have tested positive for coronavirus.
We know that you are planning carefully for how to keep your vital services running, including homelessness hostels, domestic abuse refuges, and specialist housing for older people, people with learning disabilities and people with mental health needs.
At the NHF we are committed to doing whatever we can to support you to keep vital services running. We have been working closely with the government and are in constant contact with ministers and officials to make sure that the issues faced by supported housing providers are heard.
Please continue to share the challenges you are experiencing and examples of the vital work you are doing, so we can ensure these are understood across the government.
Read on for some key coronavirus updates relating to supported housing.
On 19 March, the government announced £2.9bn of funding to strengthen care for vulnerable people. The announcement stated that £1.6bn of this would go to local authorities, to go towards increasing support for the adult social care workforce and 'services helping the most vulnerable, including homeless people'.
It has since been confirmed that the £1.6bn is not ringfenced, as the government has stated that local authorities are best placed to understand what the service pressures and spending needs are in their local area. Of this money, £1.4bn is designated for adult social care, with £0.2bn left for 'other services', including homelessness. This will be distributed through local authorities’ share of 2013/14 Settlement Funding Assessment for overall relative needs.
Given the need for support staff to manage risk in the new rough sleeper accommodation, and the need for staff to continue working with people safely so that they may retain their accommodation, we are looking for clarity on how and whether this money will go to support for homeless people and allowing supported housing stay open.
The government has published guidance on the new easements around Adult Social Care assessments which were announced in the Coronavirus Act 2020.
We will monitor the effects of the new rules around Adult Social Care assessments to understand whether this is affecting the work required of our members’ support staff.
If you are experiencing issues around the new provisions, please let us know so that we can share your feedback with the government departments involved.
Hospital discharge is an issue of critical importance at a time when the health service is under severe pressure. We have already heard some great examples of work you’re doing on this, such as identifying more accommodation that can be run on care principles, to allow hospitals to discharge the less critically ill or move people to housing settings still funded by the NHS.
NHS England has produced guidance on coronavirus hospital discharge service requirements. The Better Care Fund ran a webinar on these requirements on 20 March for all those involved in discharge, at all levels and from all organisations. The recording of the webinar can be found here.
The government produced guidance on 23 March which stated that refuges and other forms of domestic abuse safe accommodation do not need to close unless directed to do so by Public Health England or the government.
For members providing refuges, government guidance states that refuges (shared houses), refuges (self-contained units), dispersed accommodation, move-on accommodation, sanctuary schemes and other forms of emergency safe accommodation, are usually considered households for the purposes of the household self-isolation policy.
Many supported housing providers are looking at how the extra costs incurred from the coronavirus outbreak can be met, including the impact on services charges and Housing Benefit claims. At present DWP has made no changes to the rules or administration of Housing Benefit.
We want to hear from members who are considering this issue, to better understand the key points that we should to raise with DWP, so that we can best support you to continue providing vital services to those who need it most.
This webinar from 2-3pm on 9 April will look at issues specific to supported housing and homelessness services, and give examples of how you be may responding to the crisis.
You will hear from John Glenton, Executive Director of Care and Support at Riverside, on supported housing and from Beatrice Orchard, Head of Policy, Campaigns and Research, on homelessness.
The session will be chaired by Catherine Ryder, Director of Policy and Research at the National Housing Federation. There will be an opportunity to ask written questions that the chair will address during the session.