Finance & Funding Policy

Claiming Enhanced Housing Benefit & the DWP Housing Benefit Guidance for Supported Housing Claims


This briefing is aimed at supported housing providers claiming enhanced housing benefit [both registered providers and non-registered providers] and local authority supported housing commissioning and Revenues and Benefits colleagues.

Enhanced housing benefit became a “thing” from around 2005 when a few of us working in the sector back then we’re looking to identify an alternative revenue stream for supported housing in the light of the retrenchment of “Supporting People” funding.

Enhanced housing benefit funded and funds what Supporting People progressively ceased to fund: essentially non-support related and property related services and functions that are provided in supported housing. Back in 2005 I described these housing benefit funded services and functions as “intensive housing management”; a term that has now become commonplace within the supported housing sector.

Enhanced housing benefit and intensive housing management have become an essential component of the supported housing sector over the years. The amounts of enhanced housing benefit paid annually has gone from £0 in 2005 to around £1 billion now. However, we have also seen industrial scale abuses of enhanced housing benefit over the years by money motivated actors. Consequently, people within the supported housing sector, such as myself, councils and government have shone a spotlight on the situation, and we now see terms such as “Wild West gold rush” [another widely adopted term I coined] being used to describe what is wrong with the system. The problem is not with enhanced housing benefit itself, but with those who abuse it and abuse people with additional needs whose money this is.

Consequently, over time we have seen inquiries, legislation, and regulations to try and manage the enhanced housing benefit system and the abuse is of it. In so doing it is important that the powers that be sort the enhanced housing benefit sheep out from the goats without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are very many excellent supported housing providers that claim enhanced housing benefit. They and their residents should not be prejudiced by the shameful abuses of a minority.

The legislative response can be seen in the form of the Supported Housing Regulatory Oversight Act 2023. I will be publishing an updated briefing on this legislation imminently and I will be running a series of events in the New Year, details of which will be published shortly.

The DWP Guidance

The regulatory response took shape in May 2022 in the form of the “DWP housing benefit guidance for supported housing claims”. As well as taking its cue from an understandable concern about the abuse of enhanced housing benefit, it also seeks to restrict eligibility for enhanced housing benefit to strictly property related services and functions.

In undertaking an analysis of this guidance, my purpose is to focus only on those parts which are directly relevant to enhanced housing benefit claims [paragraphs 137-178].

Paragraph 137: care, support and supervision must be linked to the property [it must not be floating support]. But see paragraphs 156-158 below.

Paragraph 138: the landlord doesn’t have to be the primary provider of care, support and supervision, but must provide a “more than minimal amount”. It is not enough for the landlord to simply facilitate or coordinate the provision of care, support and supervision.

Paragraph 140: where the care, support and supervision are commissioned by the local authority or the NHS and the landlord doesn’t provide a more than minimal amount of care, support and supervision, the accommodation in question would not be deemed to be specified accommodation and the tenants therein would not be eligible for enhanced housing benefit as a consequence.

Paragraph 142: the focus is on people, not buildings. All eligible claimants must need care, support and supervision to a more than minimal degree, whether or not they avail themselves of it. In some supported housing schemes, some residents may be eligible for enhanced housing benefit whilst others may not.

Paragraph 145: an admission to a supported housing scheme must include a needs assessment conducted by a suitably qualified and experienced person. This could be undertaken by the local authority or by the provider. Third party funding such as Personal Independence Payment or local authority/NHS top up is evidence of an established need and of an appropriate assessment.

Paragraph 148: the needs assessment referred to in paragraph 145 [above] must be supported by a care, support and supervision plan.

Paragraph 149: referral routes into supported housing matter and should be such that Revenues and Benefits colleagues can assume that a needs assessment has taken place. This means that self-referrals are not appropriate, housing options/ homelessness teams referrals are often not appropriate [at least not without supported housing commissioner support] and some third-party provider agency referrals are also not appropriate.

Paragraphs 150 to 155: we still await a formal definition of “care, support and supervision” as part of the Supported Housing Regulatory Oversight Act 2023 consultations. It is to be hoped that this will not be a restrictive definition that would negatively impact on enhanced housing benefit entitlements. This is especially so given the widening funding gap affecting non housing benefit eligible services such as support. However, the direction of travel in the DWP guidance is to try and restrict enhanced housing benefit payments and where the DWP is involved in defining care, support and supervision it would be no surprise if any formal definition was more restrictive still.

Paragraph 151: this paragraph states that there is no set number of hours of care, support and supervision required for the amounts to be deemed to be “sufficient”. However, many local authorities consider three hours of care, support and supervision per tenant a week [on an average basis] to be the minimum required amount and frequently reference case law [CH/1289/2007] in support of this.

As a catch all definition of “care, support and supervision” I believe that it is the totality of both housing benefit eligible [intensive housing management] tasks and functions and non-housing benefit eligible [support] tasks and functions.

Ongoing care, support and supervision is regarded as having more “value” in enhanced housing benefit claim terms than one off tasks and services, for example, signing someone up as a tenant. One to one support is more “valuable” than group support. Care, support and supervision provided by trained and qualified staff is more “valuable” than that provided by untrained/unqualified staff. Direct work with tenants, for example care, support and supervision provided on an agreed appointment basis is more “valuable” than a worker simply being available to be seen. Additional maintenance and repairs due to the needs of tenants should be seen as enhanced housing benefit eligible care, support and supervision.

It is essential that supported housing providers are aware of this and the need to evidence the nature and fact of the services they provide. I have seen too many situations where enhanced housing benefit is denied or withdrawn on the basis that the supported housing provider cannot evidence the support that it genuinely provides.

Paragraphs 156-158: “floating support” is care, support and supervision that is not linked to accommodation. In such circumstances the accommodation in question cannot be defined as specified accommodation, and therefore enhanced housing benefit is not payable. The DWP guidance justifies this on the basis that such accommodation “has not been specifically designed, acquired, adapted or designated to be supported housing”. It is worth noting that this statement is open to interpretation. Many supported housing providers and refuge providers who have dispersed or move on accommodation may well wish to designate as supported housing what might otherwise be seen simply as dispersed or move on accommodation.

Paragraphs 159-165: to qualify for enhanced housing benefit supported housing providers must provide both intensive housing management and support. Support is not fundable by housing benefit and supported housing providers must be able to show how much support is provided, of what nature and, crucially, how it is funded. It can be funded by third party sources such as the local authority/ NHS or charitable funding, via internal subsidy within the supported housing provider or by charging the tenants directly. The point is that within any enhanced housing benefit claim supported housing providers must identify the funding sources for the support that they provide.

Paragraphs 174-176: the DWP guidance reiterates the established view that for service charges to be eligible for housing benefit they must relate to the provision of adequate accommodation, so for example, assisting people to claim benefits is an ineligible charge because it has no impact on the condition of the accommodation. However, I would argue assisting tenants to claim housing benefit, as distinct from other benefits, is eligible.

The guidance then goes on to say [paragraph 175] that “charges for installation, maintenance or repair of any special equipment or adaptations to the claimant’s accommodation to make it suitable to their particular needs are not an eligible service charge”. I would have thought that special equipment and adaptations are absolutely related to the provision of adequate accommodation: however, this is not the view of the guidance, and I would be very interested in other peoples’ observations on this issue.

In paragraph 176 the guidance states that the overhead costs of support are not eligible as part of an enhanced housing benefit claim. I have come across situations in which Revenues and Benefits colleagues have used this paragraph to restrict all overhead costs, which is incorrect. Supported housing providers should be clear about the percentage of eligible services as opposed to ineligible services they provide [remember you must provide both] when calculating the appropriate eligible overhead charge.

Paragraphs 177-178: there follows a list of what I deem to be enhanced housing benefit eligible tasks and functions. This list is a combination of what is included within the DWP guidance and within my long-established briefing that is routinely used as a template for enhanced housing benefit eligible tasks and functions and related staff job descriptions. Please note that both the DWP guidance and my briefing both state that this list is not exhaustive:

  • Controlling access to the premises.
  • Ensuring rent is paid regularly and on time.
  • Explaining the occupancy agreement and assisting people to understand their rights and responsibilities in relation to it.
  • The additional costs of property maintenance and repair, housing services, furniture, fittings, and equipment where the furniture fixtures and fittings do not become the property of the resident.
  • Offering advice and guidance on keeping property to a reasonable standard of hygiene.
  • Liaising with all relevant agencies, both statutory and voluntary, on the tenant’s behalf to the extent that it concerns their ability to maintain/develop independence in relation to their housing.
  • Assisting people to reduce rent arrears.
  • Dealing with nuisance issues.
  • Ensuring that people know how to use equipment safely.
  • Providing people with advice and facilitating a move to alternative accommodation as required.
  • Assisting people to claim the housing component of Universal Credit
  • Helping to keep people safe by monitoring visitors, including contractors and professionals, and by carrying out health and safety, maintenance, and risk assessments of property.
  • Internet access within sheltered and supported housing.
  • PPE.
  • Support/IHM worker, concierge, caretaker, or warden staff – only allow the proportion of the charge for the time they are providing HB eligible accommodation-related services.
  • The overhead costs of providing HB eligible services (office costs, IT, travel, telephones, stationary etc).
  • Refuse removal of communal bins.
  • External cleaning of tenant’s windows where the tenant does not live on the ground floor.
  • Ongoing maintenance (including repair, cleaning, and utility) of equipment.
  • communal grounds (including basic gardening and lighting for areas of external access).
  • communal laundry facilities.
  • internal communal areas.
  • cleaning of windows in communal areas and of individual’s accommodation above ground floor level where they are unable to do it.
  • communal lifts.
  • communal telephone (excluding the cost of calls).
  • secure building access, including entry phones, key cards and keypad door locking mechanisms.

How I Can Help You

Claiming enhanced housing benefit is a technical process, even if you do have a good grasp of the regulations, and not every supported housing provider is sufficiently resourced or confident to construct an enhanced housing benefit claim and to defend it when local authority scrutiny is applied.

This is where I can help you. Remember, I was one of the few people who originally identified the exempt accommodation rules as the gateway to enhanced housing benefit back in 2005, and it was me who reinvented the term “intensive housing management” as a descriptor for the tasks listed above.

I take a collaborative approach with revenues and benefits colleagues in negotiating enhanced housing benefit claims. I don’t work with supported housing providers that local authorities haven’t approved, and I have an enviable success rate.

This is at least in part because of my commitment to ensuring that local authorities can fully recover from the DWP the enhanced housing benefit they pay to supported housing providers.

To achieve this, I set up the Exempt Accommodation Project in 2021, which now has several hundred units of accommodation in management and partnerships with half a dozen registered providers, many of them YMCAs.

My work in claiming enhanced housing benefit for supported housing providers is effectively cost neutral, whether or not you use the Exempt Accommodation Project.

My “call to action” to supported housing providers is that you should contact me if you need help with any aspect of enhanced housing benefit. My call to action to local authorities is that you should contact me if you need assistance in eliminating subsidy loss on the enhanced housing benefit claims.

Michael Patterson

November 2023

Finance & Funding

Funding Supported Housing


This blog post is the third in the “What is Supported Housing?” Series. To summarise so far I have suggested that supported housing:

  • Be defined other than by timescale
  • Is where someone with an additional needs lives, for the duration of that need, irrespective of who the landlord is
  • Should be regulated and overseen (see my next blog post)
  • Should be commissioned, funded and “measured” according to Value Generation principles

The UK Government is working on draft social care legislation for England and devolved governments have yet to integrate supported housing into the health and social care mainstream. Supported housing, not least its funding, should be part of the health and social care mainstream.


Supported housing revenue includes local authority and NHS administered funding for social and health care needs, and people’s own personal budgets.

Supporting People funding is now the exception not the rule. A significant amount of the value of the Supporting People budget (originally £1.8 billion) has been reallocated into (enhanced) Housing Benefit as Intensive Housing Management funding. It’s moved from the instability of local authority finances to the relative stability of the welfare benefits system.

The key question when it comes to recurring revenue for supported housing, however is “where will it sit in relation to the welfare benefits system?”. The UK Government gave a “Future of Supported Housing” policy commitment in 2018 to keep the funding of supported housing within the welfare system.

Lord Freud acknowledged in 2012 that people in exempt or specified accommodation would have the housing component of their Universal Credit administered by the local Housing Benefit team under the Exempt Accommodation rules. So effectively, enhanced Housing Benefit for Intensive Housing Management is paid as the housing component of Universal Credit on an uncapped basis.

I believe that this supported housing component of Universal Credit should be redesignated “Supported Housing Rent”, which should be payable to all supported housing providers regardless of legal identity, provided they are properly regulated/accredited and overseen (see my next blog post “The Regulation of Supported Housing”).

Whoever the landlord is, be it social, private, statutory, voluntary charitable; would it not be better for there to be a simple system whereby the costs of the building are met through a banded system to take account of different cost variables? In England these bandings would probably be regionally based. (See the “Lord Best letter” of 2017). The additional (non bricks and mortar) housing needs components can also be banded according to level of assessed need (low, medium or high).

This system has the advantages of reflecting variable levels of additional need and building/property costs whilst at the same time applying sufficient maxima to each band. It dispenses with the need for basing rent levels on wildly inconsistent Local Housing Allowance levels.

Within a Universal Credit claim Supported Housing Rent components would be therefore be awarded based on a banded regional basis to reflect the variable costs of the development and management of property in every and any given region of England, and whilst Universal Credit remains a non-devolved issue this model may also be of interest to NI, Scotland & Wales.

The housing based additional needs component of Supported Housing Rent could be paid at three levels: low medium and high. These are simple principles that allow for variable costs in both buildings and the needs of the people who live in them.

Recipients of Supported Housing Rent (landlords) will have to generate value:

  • outcomes for people
  • cost benefit to the public purse
  • wider community benefit.

They will have to comply with regulatory and oversight standards (see my next blog post). We really should dispense with the absurd and discriminatory notion that peoples’ entitlements to enhanced revenue (in this case Supported Housing Rent) as a consequence of their additional needs should be dependent on the legal identity of their landlord, which is the case now.


The capital funding of supported housing is a blog post in its own right. However, having given a view on supported housing revenue it seems sensible to make some summary comments on the capital position.

We are moving increasingly in the direction of private capital funded supported housing. This has been especially so in the case of Specialised Supported Housing (what I would refer to as “Intensive Supported Housing”).

There is a need to get the balance right between social motivation and profit. Put a different way, there is a need to be realistic about what percentage return on capital public revenue should be expected to return. Investors should generate value in what they do just as much as providers of supported housing are expected to do.

REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts), which facilitate much of the investment in supported housing, need to evolve their structures in the light of the English social housing regulator’s judgements against some REIT-based housing associations and the associated trade press reporting.

Conversely, we should consider how well-placed social housing regulators across the UK are to oversee supported housing, a significant amount of which sits outside their sectors. I think there are strong arguments to make for the independent oversight of supported housing, arguments I shall attempt to make in my next blog.

Investment in supported housing is based on a viable revenue stream. This viable revenue stream, with its consequent impetus to investors, should be built into universal credit on a Supported Housing Rent basis.

The UK Government will also continue to deploy public capital (and revenue) in the form of targeted funding for specific outcomes. For example, it has recently announced that it is bringing forward £160m of its Rough Sleeping Services budget to provide 6000 homes with support for street homeless people in England. This is ambitious enough to be a game changer for street homelessness, provided the revenue for support is sufficient and stays in place.


We need to think about the funding of supported housing in the context of its outcomes (see my blog post on defining supported housing) and its regulation/oversight (watch this space!).

Supported housing needs revenue funding certainty for its day to day operation and in order to give investors confidence to invest and providers confidence to provide.

Supported Housing Rent builds revenue and confidence into the system and makes the relationship between needs and resources. It retains revenue for supported housing within the welfare benefits system.

Supported housing providers, “social” or not, should generate value and comply with regulatory/oversight frameworks in order to qualify for Supported Housing Rent.


What is “Supported Housing” ? (Part 2): Defining it

In my 1st blog post of the “What is Supported Housing?” series I said that supported housing is a victim of its own limiting misdescriptions. I also argued that this isn’t helped by the definitions of supported housing in the UK Government’s (now stalled) “Funding Supported Housing” policy agenda of 2018, which I’ll look at below.

Here is an opportunity then, to offer some definitions for supported housing based on peoples’ needs. Definitions that will support the integration of supported housing into the social care mainstream.

This blog post may be of interest to UK-wide readers, despite the policy focus being on England. Social care is a devolved matter but supported housing still isn’t, to the extent that it’s funded through enhanced Housing Benefit/Universal Credit. In addition, the revised definitions of supported housing I propose have universal applicability.

Formal Definitions

The Social Housing Rents (Exceptions and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2016 give definitions of supported housing in its widest sense (for England) as follows:

specialised supported housing” means supported housing—
(a) which is designed, structurally altered, refurbished or designated for occupation by, and made available to, residents who require specialised services or support in order to enable them to live, or to adjust to living, independently within the community,
(b) which offers a high level of support, which approximates to the services or support which would be provided in a care home, for residents for whom the only acceptable alternative would be a care home,
(c) which is provided by a private registered provider under an agreement or arrangement with—
(i) a local authority, or
(ii) the health service within the meaning of the National Health Service Act 2006(d),
(d) in respect of which the rent charged or to be charged complies with the agreement or arrangement mentioned in paragraph (c), and
(e) in respect of which either—
(i) there was no public assistance, or
(ii) if there was public assistance, it was by means of a loan secured by means of a charge or a mortgage against a property;

supported housing” means low cost rental accommodation provided by a registered provider which—
(a) is made available only in conjunction with the supply of support,
(b) is made available exclusively to residents who have been identified as needing support, and
(c) falls into one or both of the following categories—
(i) accommodation that has been designed, structurally altered or refurbished in order to enable residents to live independently,
(ii) accommodation that has been designated as being available only to individuals within an identified group with specific support needs;
“support” includes—
(a) sheltered accommodation,
(b) extra care housing,
(c) domestic violence refuges,
(d) hostels for the homeless,
(e) support for people with drug or alcohol problems,
(f) support for people with mental health problems,
(g) support for people with learning disabilities,
(h) support for people with disabilities,
(i) support for offenders and people at risk of offending,
(j) support for young people leaving care,
(k) support for teenage parents
(l) support for refugees;

So Specialised Supported Housing is for people who might otherwise be in a registered care home and is funded through the use of private capital. It’s also exempt from the Rent Standard.

Other “Conventional” Supported Housing defined above is subject to the Rent Standard and reflects a “typical” definition of mainstream supported housing.

Both definitions in the Social Housing Rents (Exceptions and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2016 specify the landlord as a Registered Provider. However, there are many supported housing services run by nonprofit agencies that have no registered provider involvement, and still other supported housing services provided by the private sector. Are these not supported housing?

The legal identity of a tenant’s landlord does make a difference to that tenant’s entitlement to enhanced Housing Benefit where additional needs are an issue (only social/nonprofit housing tenants/licensees are eligible). This is perverse in circumstances where additional need isn’t restricted to social housing. The regulation of all supported housing is more important than the legal status of a supported housing landlord.

Definitions Proposed in “Funding Supported Housing”

In addition to these two broad definitions above, the UK Government’s “Funding Supported Housing” policy consultation originally had the following definitions of supported housing:

  • Short-term supported housing: The UK Government has defined “Short-Term Supported Housing” as being supported housing that is accessed by people in crisis and with a maximum duration of two years or until a transition to “long term stable accommodation” is possible, whichever occurs first.
  • Long-term supported housing: Long-Term Supported Housing includes people with learning disabilities mental health needs and other groups whose additional needs are permanent.
  • Sheltered & Extracare Housing: the UK Government hasn’t defined this type of supported housing in its “Future Funding” policy agenda, apart from identifying its existence. It did accept the need not to be too prescriptive in how sheltered and extracare are defined.

I don’t believe that timescale or client group should define Supported Housing; it should be defined by the nature of the needs it meets. As I mention in previous blog posts, definitions of supported housing based on a timeframe are about the restrictive management of a pot of public money, not about meeting peoples’ needs.

The proposed definitions of Short-Term, Long-Term and Sheltered & Extra Care Housing do not reflect the diversity of supported housing services. For example, where do Shared Lives/Adult Placements, Respite Care, Housing First and Intermediate Housing fit in? No consideration is given to the sometimes high degree of overlap between Sheltered & Extra Care, Long-Term Supported Housing and Specialised Supported Housing.

Proper consideration will be given to funding supported housing in my next blog post, but for the sake of clarity all forms of supported housing should be funded, in part at least, through the welfare system as the UK Government has accepted.

Revised Definitions

So-called “short-term supported housing” should be redesignated as “Immediate Access Accommodation“. Within that definition refuges and other forms of emergency accommodation for which Universal Credit is not immediately appropriate should be funded by a ringfenced local authority fund for up to 6 weeks, after which Universal Credit including an enhanced housing component should fund it.

Intermediate Supported Housing“: which, by definition, applies to people who don’t need Immediate Access Accommodation, although they may have come from it, and don’t need Intensive Supported Housing, although they may have come from it. The duration of someone’s stay in Intermediate Supported Housing would depend on the duration and extent of their need within a system geared towards the maximisation of managed interdependence. If appropriate, Intermediate Supported Housing may be provided in the same building as Immediate Access Accommodation, for example a refuge. Funded through Universal Credit.

In the same way I challenged the appropriateness of the term “Short-Term Supported Housing” I believe the term “Long-Term Supported Housing” is inappropriate and should be replaced with the term “Intensive Supported Housing“. Within “Intensive Supported Housing” peoples’ needs can be of any duration but the point is that they’re intensive. This might be as a consequence of an addiction or as a consequence of a severe learning disability to give just two very different examples of many.

Specialised Supported Housing and Intensive Supported Housing are not dissimilar. If the requirement for Specialised Supported Housing to be privately funded by definition were removed, they would be practically identical.

Sheltered and Extra Care Housing is defined by the UK Government’s 2nd set of “Funding Supported Housing” consultation proposals. I agree that definitions of the people who live in sheltered/extracare shouldn’t be too prescriptive.

Wherever we are in the UK it is important that supported housing is an integrated part of the network of social and healthcare services that people need. Social care reform is on the agenda universally and it’s important that we inform the nature of change by putting supported housing front and centre.

Providing revised definitions of supported housing that focus on peoples’ needs is important in a context where such definitions are habitually geared to the management of a budget (“long-term”, “short-term” etc). I understand that money is important but it’s much better looked at as part of a Value Generation approach:

  • Outcomes for people
  • Cost benefit to the public purse
  • Wider social/community benefit

Cost alone is a very crude measure of the value that supported housing generates. Value Generation contextualises it better within a wider framework of measurement.

My next blog post in this “What is Supported Housing?” series will focus on funding supported housing.

Michael Patterson 18th May 2020