HSEU responds to Housing Bill consulation

The Unit responded to the joint Call for Views from the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee and the Social Justice and Social Security Committee

The Housing (Scotland) Bill was published on the 27th of March. Informed by three public consultations, the Bill will now be scrutinised by the Scottish Parliament. The Bill, Financial Memorandum, and Policy Memorandum are available here.

The Unit responded to the joint Call for Views from the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee and the Social Justice and Social Security Committee: HSEU Response to the Call for Views

The Unit’s response to the Call for Views focused on the provisions in the Bill around Homelessness Prevention and housing support. Overall, the Unit is supportive of an improved focus on the prevention of homelessness across public bodies. It is important that the proposed ask and act duties take account of the housing support needs of people facing homelessness.

With housing support as a key preventative tool to enable people to maintain independent living and their own tenancy, providers are supportive of proposals to improve early intervention. By providing support that is responsive to people’s individual needs, housing support can help avoid escalation and reduce demands on statutory services. The prevention of homelessness is not only a housing issue, and to effectively prevent homelessness, there must be effective partnership working between housing, health, and social care.

 

Duty on Local Authorities to Assess Housing Support Need and Availability of Services

Provisions in the Bill include a requirement that local housing strategies must include an assessment of the housing support needs of people in the local authority and the availability of housing support services in relation to homelessness. The Unit is supportive of this proposed new duty, with providers expressing concern around current access to support. However, in the current proposals, it is unclear how this local authority assessment would be linked with the ask and act duty, or provision of services. Housing support providers have reported that a lack of consistent approaches in service provision brings challenges for providing effective support. Many providers have received funding on a year-on-year basis, which doesn’t allow strategic planning, and results in uncertainty of service provision and employment.[1]High-quality support relies on relationship-building and trust, which is facilitated through adequate and sustainable funding. A local authority assessment of housing support need and availability of services could be used to provide multi-year funding for necessary services to meet local need.

 

New Prevention Duties

The Bill also contains new ‘ask and act’ duties, to work towards a more shared responsibility for preventing homelessness. This will mean that relevant public bodies will ask about a person’s housing situation and act to avoid them becoming homeless wherever possible.

Early intervention is beneficial, not only for the people who are supported to maintain independent living or their own tenancy, but also from a cost-savings perspective. However, it is crucial that the ‘ask and act duty’ includes asking people facing homelessness about their housing support needs.

While the new prevention duties are promising, it will be important for relevant bodies to have proper resource to allow for training and action to reduce the threat of homelessness. The support work undertaken by housing support providers is specialist and person-centred. While there is some recognition in the proposals and financial memorandum that housing associations already undertake tenancy sustainment work, the proposals do not take into account the current funding pressures facing housing associations and other providers of housing support. Furthermore, the support needs of some people facing homelessness will go beyond the scope of the often short-term tenancy sustainment offered by housing associations, and will include more complex mental health needs. Research from the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence found that the funding sources of housing support services are often not clear [2].  Housing support funding has been cut, and tenancy sustainment and support activities are not sustainable without a clear funding source. Housing support providers anticipate more approaches for support in relation to the duties. In addition, housing associations that provide housing support and will be subject to the proposed ask and act duties, may be required to expand existing housing support services, in order to minimise the threat of homelessness. Therefore, the ask and act duties for relevant bodies must be properly resourced, with adequate funding to enable housing support provision to support independent living.

The Unit will continue to engage with the parliamentary process of the Housing Bill.

 

 

[1] https://www.ccpscotland.org/hseu-news/what-is-the-impact-of-the-current-system-of-funding-housing-support/

[2] https://housingevidence.ac.uk/publications/economic-benefits-of-housing-support/

New Publication: Housing Support Workers in Scotland

HSEU has published a new briefing looking at the role of housing support workers in Scotland and the need to ensure significant recognition for the role.

Housing support enabling unit logo

 

A new publication from the Housing Support Enabling Unit highlights the varied and valuable role of housing support workers in Scotland.

The briefing explores the work undertaken by housing support workers, their qualifications and professional development, and the scope of the role through case studies informed by conversations with housing support workers working in different services across Scotland. The briefing has been written to improve understanding and recognise the experience and skill associated with the role.

‘Housing support workers can help people access health or social care services, support people to become involved in activities, and assist people to achieve their own goals.’

The briefing concludes that the expertise, passion, and enthusiasm of housing support workers underpins high-quality relationship-based support. This support enables people to live independently in their homes and communities, and therefore must be properly recognised and championed. It is important that services are sustainably funded to a level where the workforce can be supported through pay, training, and professional development. Without sustainable funding of services, support providers struggle with the recruitment and retention of housing support workers that underpin high-quality support.

In response to the publication, Amanda Miller, Director of Community Services Eildon Housing Association and Chair of the Unit’s Executive Committee says …. ‘as health, social care and housing face unprecedented demand and pressure, it is more important than ever to understand the role that housing support workers play in helping people to live and thrive in their communities.  Our ask of policy makers is to ensure sufficient recognition of the role and adequate funding is in place so that everyone has access to these services when they need them.’

 

What is the impact of the current system of funding housing support?

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and the HSEU have hosted a webinar on the complex funding arrangements of preventative housing support. Discussion focused on the impact of the current funding system and how to further support independent living and the prevention of homelessness

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and the Housing Support Enabling Unit hosted a webinar focusing on the complex funding arrangements of preventative housing support. Participants represented housing associations, local authorities, third sector providers of housing support and other stakeholders.

HSEU and SFHA were pleased to be joined by Jennifer Wallace, Director of Customer Experience at Trust Housing Association and David Smith, Partnership and Planning Manager in Homelessness and Housing Support at Edinburgh Council.

Yvette Burgess, Director of HSEU, set the scene with a presentation about recent research into the social and economic benefits of housing support. The Centre for Collaborative Housing Evidence (CaCHE), jointly commissioned by SFHA, HSEU, SCLD, Hanover Scotland, and Blackwood Homes and Care published research earlier this year which concluded that there are complex funding arrangements that underpin housing support in Scotland. The report found that while the net benefits of housing support are evident, it was difficult to piece together a ‘public finance story’ of housing support, with more needing to be done to increase the visibility and map funding streams.

‘It is a major research challenge… to attempt to track down all of the public finance strands relating to contemporary Housing Support in Scotland…One can easily spend a few hours digging around official sources without being able to piece together the public finance story in a satisfactory way.’ -CaCHE Report on the Economic Benefits of Housing Support. 

With this context, Jennifer Wallace then presented on accommodation-based housing support at Trust. The presentation reflected on the challenges posed by a lack of consistent approach in contracts and service provision. Many contract awards have been agreed on a year-on-year basis with a lack of strategic planning. Jennifer reflected on the uncertainty of service provision and employment that can be caused by complex funding arrangements. The organisational impacts include increased difficulty to allocate voids, less opportunity to explore new service models and developments, and issues of recruitment. These difficulties experienced in the commissioning and funding of Trust’s accommodation-based housing support services are concerning because of the challenges they pose to the positive preventative impacts of Trust’s service. Through the presence and relationship between tenants and the onsite team, small changes in an individuals’ health and wellbeing can be noted earlier to maximise early intervention and prevention to someone entering hospital or a care home. The flexible service enables reduction in social isolation, mental, and physical health and supports people’s desired outcomes to live independently while maintaining safety and security.

David Smith, spoke about his experience at Edinburgh council in the commissioning of homelessness and rough sleeping services. David reflected on how the commissioning process in Edinburgh had been improved through awarding 10 year contracts for the third sector, with simplified KPS, focusing on reducing repeat homelessness. The commissioning process includes a focus on co-production involving service users.

Discussion with participants then focused on the experience of funding of housing support both from providers and local authorities’ perspectives.

What might a better funding system look like?

Participants discussed the potential for longer-term contracts to enable long-term planning and continuity of services. Participants agreed that there should be more consistency across local authorities, with the commissioning process including consultation with the people using services. There were also suggestions for a move away from framework agreements which have caused problems in some areas. Providers of housing support voiced frustration at the current lack of understanding of where funding for services sits. There was also agreement that more sharing of good practice and communication between local authorities would be beneficial.

How can the adequate funding of housing support help support independent living and the prevention of homelessness?

Participants agreed that effective housing support services rely on relationship-building and trust which is facilitated through adequate and sustainable funding. If providers of housing support services are able to create longer-term plans, there are also greater opportunities to explore new service models and development. Through more sustainable funding, housing support services are more able to focus on early intervention and preventative work, to enable people to live independently and stay safe and well in their communities.

 

Scottish Housing Day 2023: Careers in Housing Support

HSEU is supporting Scottish Housing Day 2023, with resources to learn more about careers in Housing Support.

HSEU is supporting Scottish Housing Day 2023. The theme for this year is celebrating housing as a career. There are many opportunities for a career within Housing Support. Working in Housing Support could see you supporting older people; disabled people; people with a learning disability; people who are facing homelessness; people experiencing addictions; people with mental health problems; or women facing domestic abuse.

 

Below are some resources to learn more:

Information from the Housing Support Enabling Unit about the purpose and scope of housing support.

The Chartered Institute of Housing has produced a job profile for a supported housing worker. This includes information about the tasks of a supported housing worker, as well as information about qualifications and useful skills and experience.

Information from Scottish Government about social care careers, including housing support. You can download a free career guide.

The Scottish Social Services Council has case studies of different roles within housing support to learn more about the scope of roles available.

 

 

 

Report Launch: Economic Benefits of Housing Support

The Economic and Social Benefits of Housing Support: Housing Support brings preventative public savings alongside strong economic and social benefits.

Housing support enabling unit logo

Commissioned by the Housing Support Enabling Unit, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), the Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities (SCLD), Hanover Scotland, and Blackwood Homes and Care, a new report from CaCHE suggests that Housing Support has strong economic and social benefits, particularly in relation to preventative public finance savings.

The report suggests that there is a broad range of qualitative and practice evidence supporting the role of Housing Support in securing, accommodation, care and other services. This evidence frames Housing Support as an enabler to facilitate positive health & wellbeing, and social outcomes for people, preventing recourse to more intense interventions.

The report also examines the wide range of Housing Support activities, and suggests that Housing Support is funded by multiple sources of funding, which are not always visible. The diversity of funding arrangements and activities within Housing Support mean that more needs to be done to quantify these benefits. This will aid in highlighting the important role of Housing Support and the need for secure funding to sustain and extend capacity.

Recommendations

The report concludes with recommendations for next steps and further research:

  1.  More needs to be done to map and increase data/statistics to strengthen the model of preventative Housing Support.
  2.  Develop a national partnership approach to further understand the outcomes and economic benefits associated with Housing Support, to increase its impact.
  3.  Increase visibility of Housing Support by constructing well-defined areas of budgetary activity.

The report and an easy-read summary of the report can be viewed here. The authors of the report, Prof Ken Gibb and Dr Vikki McCall have also produced a video discussing the report. The research partners, HSEU, SFHA, SCLD, Hanover Scotland, and Blackwood Homes and Care, are eager that the report is used as a basis for further discussion about the economic and social benefits of Housing Support. The partners are keen to continue engagement with commissioners, funders, and providers of Housing Support so please share with your networks and get in touch with any feedback or contributions at hs.unit@ccpscotland.org.

No Place Like Home Photography Competition 2022: Winning Entries

The winners of the 2022 No Place Like Home photography competition have been announced, showcasing the different ways that people in Scotland use housing support.

On the 1st of November, at the first session of the Better Futures Annual event, HSEU announced the winning entries of the 2022 No Place Like Home Photography Competition. Now in its 12th year, the photography competition continues to celebrate the achievements and the experiences of people using housing support services in Scotland.

The judging panel this year included representatives from organisations including the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Housing Options Scotland, Homeless Action Scotland, Scotland’s Housing Network, the Scottish Social Services Council, and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations.

The judges were impressed with all the entries which demonstrate the diverse ways that people use housing support to achieve their own goals. HSEU would like to thank all the entrants and their support workers for taking part this year. All of the 2022 entries are able to be viewed on Flickr.

 

Click here to see the 2022 No Place Like Home Winner’s Leaflet: 

Amy Haggerty, supported by Threshold Glasgow (Crossreach)

Andrew, Keiran, John, and Bobby, supported by Threshold Glasgow (Crossreach)

Cindie Maclennan, supported by Key Housing

Gemma Ferrie, supported by Falkirk Council

Anton Gallagher and Paige Bain, supported by Threshold Glasgow (Crossreach)

Shaun Cullen, supported by Community Lifestyles (featured below)

Better Futures Annual Event Series

Better Futures annual events, November 2022: A series of online events taking place between 1st and 10th November

Better Futures is an outcomes-monitoring tool used by housing support providers throughout Scotland.   Its unique scoring system enables support workers to create individually tailored support plans, and to update and track progress over time.  As well as its usefulness as an outcomes-monitoring tool for supported people individually, the information gathered can be aggregated and reported, enabling services and providers to understand and articulate the impacts and outcomes of the services they provide.

This year’s event consists of four individual online sessions examining different themes with a common thread – ways in which Better Futures contributes and can help.

 

Session 1: Tuesday 1st November 10.30am – 12.00pm

The opening session considers Better Futures, Regulation and the Scottish Government’s Data Strategy.  It will open with presentations to winners of the annual ‘No Place Like Home’ photography competition, which celebrates the achievements and experiences of people who use housing support services in Scotland. The session will then move on to a presentation from the Care Inspectorate focusing on how services can demonstrate quality in line with regulatory requirements, before the Scottish Government will take the lead in setting out ways in which digital systems can contribute to a new national data strategy for health and social care.

 

Session 2: Thursday 3rd November 10.30am – 12.00pm

The second session in the event series will take the form of a demonstration of the Better Futures system, led by Fraser White from the Housing Support Enabling Unit, supported by Alexander Rae, an experienced Better Futures user from South Ayrshire Council.   The demonstration is designed not only to showcase the system to potential new users, but also to enable existing users to gain insights into other providers’ utilisation of the tools it offers for supporting people and articulating impacts and outcomes.

 

Session 3: Wednesday 9th November 10.00m – 11.30am

DigiFest 2022 is a Scottish Digital Health and Care Ecosystem learning event delivered by the Scottish Government’s Digital Health and Care Directorate, its steering group partners and the European Connected Health Alliance.  The third Better Futures event session in the series is a DigiFest satellite session focused on harnessing digital technology to tackle homelessness, and will be delivered by Simon Scotland and the Housing Support Enabling Unit. The session will focus on how online recording systems can support collaborative working and help to achieve positive housing, health and social care outcomes for people facing homelessness.  It will include examples that demonstrate how Better Futures supports collaborative working, information sharing and outcomes demonstration, as well as reducing paperwork and duplication, and generally supporting people who are facing homelessness.

 

Session 4: Thursday 10th November 10.30am – 12.00pm

The concluding session in the annual event series is concerned with Commissioning for Outcomes.  The Independent Review of Adult Social Care recommended that commissioning and procurement of social care needs to move away from contracting through price based competitive tenders to commissioning for outcomes. Social care contracts will need to change to become focused on outcomes for individuals and not ‘time and task’. Contracts for social care will need to be more individualised and bespoke to enable support to meet the person’s outcomes and needs. Ethical procurement of social care will be based on more collaborative approaches to contracting and involve families and supported people and providers in the process.   Neil McKechnie will update attendees on CCPS’s work in taking this forward and is keen to gain input and feedback from sector colleagues.

How to join us:

Book your place at sessions 1, 2 and/or 4

Book your place at session 3 (DigiFest)

For more information about the event as a whole or any of the individual sessions, please email hs.unit@ccpscotland.org.

Energy Crisis Impacts for Supported and Sheltered Housing- SFHA Briefing

The SFHA has been gathering evidence about the ongoing impact of the energy crisis and has reported on the specific difficulties faced by people living in supported and sheltered housing and providers of these services.

On the 23rd of August, Nicola Sturgeon hosted an energy summit of representatives from the Scottish Government, energy companies and advice organisations. The summit focused on necessary next steps to be taken by the UK government and practical action to help households through the energy crisis. Following the summit, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations has been gathering information about the impact of the energy crisis on its members and has put together a briefing about the specific impact for supported and sheltered housing. Read more on the SFHA website.

While the energy crisis is affecting all consumers, there is evidence that suggests that social housing tenants living in supported or sheltered housing are more vulnerable to the impact of increasing energy costs. The SFHA is calling for immediate progress to resolve the practical barriers faced by housing associations and support for the most vulnerable in society.

SFHA Briefing – Energy Crisis Impacts for Supported and Sheltered Housing

Supported Exempt Accommodation and Possible Housing Benefit Changes

The Housing Support Enabling Unit is looking to hear from providers of supported housing to collect case studies of good quality supported exempt accommodation and to gather information about the number of supported services across Scotland.

In March 2022, Eddie Hughes, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Rough Sleeping and Housing issued a statement about supported housing, suggesting that changes to housing benefit regulations were likely to come to ‘improve quality and value for money across all specified supported housing provision’. Read more here.

 

Supported Exempt Accommodation is a definition used in HB regulations that refers to accommodation provided by a registered or unregistered housing association, a registered charity, or non-profit who provide care, support, or supervision to a tenant. Organisations can charge higher rents for this type of accommodation than for other housing benefit claims because of the support that is provided.

 

Beginning in October 2020, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) provided £5.4 million to the local authorities of Birmingham, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Bristol, and Hull to run pilots to improve local authority oversight of local supported housing. The pilots have led to increased scrutiny of supported accommodation and housing benefit claims, with 1,285 claims being denied where the definition of specified accommodation was not being met[1]. Since the pilots, it has emerged that supported exempt accommodation housing benefit rules have been taken advantage of to fund poor quality accommodation in England with non-adequate support[2]. Similar pilots have not taken place in Scotland where supported housing is regulated by the Care Inspectorate. In July 2022, DLUHC announced a £20M improvement fund to help local authorities in England tackle poor quality supported housing[3].

 

The HSEU feels that it is important that in the context of possible changes to housing benefit, the DLUHC is presented with examples of good quality supported housing in Scotland and the positive outcomes it can have. The HSEU is also interested in gathering information on the number of supported housing services provided. Therefore, the HSEU has distributed a survey for providers of housing support to complete about the supported services provided by their organisation. If you have not received the survey or would like to be involved in creating case studies of supported exempt accommodation in Scotland, please get in contact with HSEU at hs.unit@ccpscotland.org. The survey will be open until the 21st of September.

 

[1] Evaluation of the Supported Housing Oversight Pilots

[2] InsideHousing Investigation into SEA in Birmingham

[3] Supported Housing Improvement Programme Prosepctus

 

Fuel Insecurity Fund for Social Landlords

A new round of £2m fuel insecurity funding has been announced for social landlords. The fund will open on the 29th of August with SFHA hosting a webinar with more information on the 23rd of August at 10:00.

A new round of the Scottish Government’s Fuel Insecurity Fund has been announced. Formerly the Social Housing Fuel Poverty Support Fund, the fund aims to allow social landlords to better provide practical support to their tenants to help them to heat their homes and manage their energy costs.

The fund is managed by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) and is available to social landlords. The fund will open on the 29th of August and there is more information available on the SFHA website.

There will also be a SFHA webinar on the 23rd of August from 10:00 to 11:00 for social landlords to learn more about the fund and the assessment criteria. Book your place through the SFHA here.