Our response to the Supported Housing Consultation focused on Specialist Supported Housing for people in treatment or recovery from substance misuse.
The key points of our submission are -
Whilst there are many supported housing services that accommodate people in current substance misuse, there is a very limited supply of specialist supported housing for people in treatment or recovery from substance misuse. This seriously undermines their ability to achieve recovery. 9,000 people a year fail to access adequate housing at the start of their treatment.
As recognised by the Government there is a clear evidence base to support the need for suitable housing for people in treatment and recovery. Inadequate housing prevents people from developing sufficient recovery capital to sustain their recovery and live independently post-treatment.
Whilst within the treatment sector there are some examples of joint commissioning and provider partnership working, there remains a significant disconnect between treatment for substance misuse and housing.
People in addiction currently face discrimination in access to housing. Across the country there are high levels of homelessness amongst the treatment population. This is more acute in areas of social housing shortage.
Any further reduction in availability of affordable social housing or supported housing will disproportionally impact people with a history of drug use particularly due to the stigma they experience.
The devolution of funding to localised structures increases the risk of unequal access for people in recovery as is demonstrated by the disinvestment services have experienced.
Without adequate protections in place to protect fair access to funding for specialist supported housing for people in treatment there is a significant risk that we will see a disinvestment in this already scarce provision.
For this reason we believe it is imperative that protection is provided to this vulnerable group and that Government should consider an approach that supports the additional costs of providing specialist supported housing for people in treatment and recovery through the benefit system.
We accept the Government's need to control the cost of supported and sheltered housing. However to devolve the future provision of specialist supported housing to a localised structure presents a significant risk that the needs of this minority and discriminated group will be ignored.
The review of supported housing funding presents an opportunity to offer a level of protection to this discriminated group and protect the investment currently made in treatment and crime reduction approaches across the country.
Any measures that further reduce the provision of specialist housing across the country threatens to undermine Government ambitions in other social policy areas i.e. recovery from addiction, employability approaches, crime reduction interventions, hospital admissions.