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Safe Successful Sustainable: A shared vision for better homes, support and opportunities.

By Roz Chiro
October 21, 2021

An evidence-based account from Prospect Housing, a provider that chose to close.

With our support in shaping and designing a report, Prospect Housing launched its policy paper at an All-Party Parliamentary Group event on 21 October 2021. The report details Prospect’s history, actions leading to the closure decision and recommendations to improve accommodation and support for residents across the UK.

The launch was jointly held with the leading charity Crisis which has published its own research into the sector.

Earlier this year Prospect Housing summited a Freedom of Information request to every local authority in England. This highlighted that there are at least 106,000 people living in exempt accommodation nationally and that a reasonable estimated £816m has been spent as a minimum on exempt accommodation in the last financial year alone, and potentially closer to £1bn.

Spend on exempt accommodation has continued to rise year-on-year, with the costs of providing a bedspace in exempt accommodation varying widely across the country, from £1,100 to £13,900. Only two local authorities of the 85 who provided data, had a policy specifically on exempt accommodation.

Legislative and funding calls for action from Prospect include:

  • Closing a number of loopholes in funding and regulatory regimes, preventing some from taking advantage of vulnerable homeless people in need of housing
  • The introduction of new Housing Benefit guidance to support Local Authorities to make more informed choices about the use of exempt funding
  • Registered Providers taking greater ownership of the relationship with residents, taking control of all the key touch points throughout their tenure
  • Doing more to support residents into permanent accommodation and give them the springboard for independent living, preventing exempt accommodation from becoming a poverty trap to them
  • Ensuring that the Boards of lease based exempt accommodation providers are clear on the obligations they have, that they ensure their members have the requisite skills to manage complex businesses and that their conduct is always exemplary
  • Revising funding streams to ensure that property and care costs are paid for appropriately and deliver better value for money, whilst also helping lease based exempt accommodation providers to have viable businesses models.

Chief executive Vicky McDermott said: “We want to ensure our story is documented so others can learn from it.

“We think that a range of stakeholders, working collectively, can help address the issues that impacted on Prospect, and which we know are affecting others, to offer higher quality homes, improved services and better prospects for vulnerable people living in exempt accommodation.

“Most organisations and individuals providing supported housing (particularly in the commissioned sector) are dedicated and diligent, often going above and beyond what is required of them to deliver for their residents.  We want to see a stable and sustainable platform from which they can continue to do this vital work and make even more of a difference in the lives of those that need their help.

“Our enduring hope is that this document helps other to learn from the mistakes and experiences of Prospect, helping them to safeguard the well-being of those vulnerable residents that find themselves in exempt accommodation.”

Read the full report