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Finance & Funding

Funding Intensive Housing Management

Many of you will know what “Intensive Housing Management” is. It’s a term that the old Housing Corporation in England used to describe the additional housing management services that people in supported housing often need.

Many of you will know what “Intensive Housing Management” is. It’s a term that the old Housing Corporation in England used to describe the additional housing management services that people in supported housing often need. Intensive Housing Management services were funded by the Housing Corporation through a revenue grant known (latterly) as SHMG (Supported Housing Management Grant) some of which was often paid on by RSLs to their specialist agency partners that typically manage the RSL’s supported housing.

The set of prescribed intensive housing management services was defined in hardcopy in the Housing Corporation’s “Guide to Supported Housing”, before the age of the Internet. There is a similar list you can gain access to online here: in Scottish statutory instruments 2002 number 444 with its list of “Prescribed Housing Support Services” in Regulation 3.

The revenue funding streams for intensive housing management were put into the Supporting People pot in 2003, to help fund what became known as “Housing Related Support”. And that, you might think, was the end of that.

Except that it wasn’t. Supporting People begin to retrench very quickly. In 2005 Michael Patterson and Danny Key teamed up to identify and promote a regulatory means of mitigating providers’ losses of Supporting People revenue, by claiming the cost of eligible Intensive Housing Management tasks from Housing Benefit. This involves the use of the Exempt Accommodation route to enhanced levels of Housing Benefit. 

Over time this led to a substantial number of eligible providers (housing associations and voluntary agencies namely) being able to claim enhanced levels of Housing Benefit for the costs of the eligible housing management tasks Supporting People no longer funded.

Michael Patterson renamed these eligible housing management tasks as “Intensive Housing Management”, a term which has returned to the language of supported housing, bringing with it a substantial pot of revenue known as enhanced Housing Benefit, which continues to exist to this day.

As someone with a values base I commend the “Exempt From Responsibility?” report written by Thea Raisbeck in November 2019 for Spring/Commonweal Housing, which identifies problems over the lack of regulation of supported housing, and the oversight of the system through which some landlords claimed enhanced Housing Benefit. To put it more bluntly: some unregulated supported housing providers are claiming Housing Benefit but apparently not providing adequate housing or intensive housing management services.

Not all supported housing providers are eligible for intensive housing management funding, but most social supported housing providers are. Rather than go through the criteria for Exempt Accommodation compliance here (but watch this space) just ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you a genuinely social organisation? (For the purposes of enhanced Housing Benefit this means nonprofit)
  • Do you generate value?
    • Outcomes for people
    • Cost-benefit
    • Wider social benefit (Community Sustainment)
  • Do you own or manage supported housing?.

If you can say yes to the above questions you’re likely to be eligible to claim Intensive Housing Management and Maintenance funding. It’s a complex process that requires you (or me on your behalf) to audit your supported housing and provide a properly optimised rent structure that you can use to support an enhanced Housing Benefit claim. I have a useful spreadsheet for your revised rent structure that you can continue to use into the future.

If, on the basis of my rent structure, you decide you want to claim Intensive Housing Management and Maintenance funding you can negotiate with the local authorities you work with, on your own. Or you can ask me to refer you to Support Solutions, the leading experts in enhanced Housing Benefit negotiation.

If you decide to work with Support Solutions you won’t have to pay my fee for devising the rent structure. Support Solutions will work for you on a “no increase, no fee” basis, taking only a percentage of the increase they achieve, for one year only.

It’s also important to consider the likely future funding of Intensive Housing Management and Maintenance, and supported housing in general for that matter. I’ll keep the wider context for a future blog post/briefing but what about the Intensive Housing Management components of supported housing revenue, currently paid as enhanced Housing Benefit?

We should bear in mind both the implementation of Universal Credit and the UK Government’s (stalled) “future funding of supported housing” policy agenda.

Universal Credit allows supported housing claimants to have the housing component of their Universal Credit paid by local Housing Benefit teams as enhanced Housing Benefit. The future funding of supported housing policy agenda originally intended to pass supported housing revenue, of which Intensive Housing Management funding is a substantial part, to local authorities but that idea was parked.

Nothing much has happened on the supported housing policy agenda due to the UK Government’s preoccupation with Brexit and the current Covid 19 pandemic. But the UK Government is working on a Social Care Bill, and they would be remiss to omit supported housing from it.

It seems opportune therefore to remind the UK Government and the wider sector that Intensive Housing Management funding needs to stay exactly where it is now – as a flexible component of Universal Credit.

Going back to the “Exempt From Responsibility?” report, and my own briefings for Support Solutions going back some years, it’s not just about the future funding of supported housing, important though that is. It’s also about supported housing regulation, it’s about how we define supported housing and it’s about what values base we apply to supported housing.

I’ll be publishing more blog posts and briefings in future you can see and follow my blog site (supportedhousing.blog) Please also follow me on Twitter at @MPattersonLtd

I’ll be following up this blog post with a briefing on Intensive Housing Management and Maintenance, co-authored with Danny Key of Support Solutions. Watch this space!

5 replies on “Funding Intensive Housing Management”

Really interesting. I wonder if you would be able to audit our intensive housing management activities? From our policy to our outcomes and review what we claim and how we manage it?
How much would this cost?

Hi Stephen, many thanks for your comment.

I always thought that the UK Government would have a problem kicking IHM into touch, partly because the consequences of not having it would be dreadful in both human and financial terms and partly because what we call IHM is paid based on a regulatory framework that would have to be unpicked. Hence Lord Freud’s 2012 announcement that both embedded it in the Universal Credit system & tried, with the unwitting cooperation of the sector, to limit it by cooking up the dog’s breakfast known as “specified accommodation”.

The Government still now has to resolve the question of “what next for IHM?” in the context of Universal Credit, almost irrespective of the cost of Covid 19. Assuming it keeps Universal Credit it will have to decide whether to retain Lord Freud’s “interim system” within which IHM is paid as an uncapped (housing) component of UC, whether to transfer a funding pot out of UC to local authorities (disastrous) or whether to do neither & simply refuse to pay it. I don’t think it’s brave or daft enough to refuse to pay it or the supported housing sector would disappear overnight, which is why IHM survives austerity. I believe they’ll retain it within UC but try and restrict/cap it. What I hope they do is to retain it within UC and pay it on the basis of of how much value supported housing generates.

It’s hard to talk about Covid 19 having an upside (especially if you’ve experienced it), but if it changes the way we think about things then we have the opportunity to reconstruct our thinking and systems as a consequence. The UK Government would do well to think about Value Generation as a measure for funding eligibility. Cost is only one element of measuring value. As we all know, if it’s the only element of measuring value then the system becomes geared up as an expensive means of denying funding for preventative services such as supported housing.

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