December 14, 2015
There has been a lot of talk in recent months about offenders, prisons and rehabilitation. But there is a vital ingredient in the ‘rehabilitation cake’ which seems to be neither seen or heard. And that is supported housing.
Supported housing – the vital ingredient
There are hundreds of housing associations up and down the country which provide supported housing to vulnerable men and women, including offenders.
There is a simple truth that some people are incapable of living crime-free initially without support – they need the right help and boundaries around them before they can go it alone. Those in chaotic drug use are an easy example.
Fewer resources to rehabilitate offenders
Yet, in all the Government proposals and reforms, there seems to be a lack of awareness about the role that supported housing plays which is at best alarming, at worst chilling.
Two of the major proposed cuts for housing associations are a 1% reduction in rent year-on-year and removing the Housing Benefit Cap exemption for specialist housing providers. Both are fine on paper – but disastrous in practice.
Specialist housing associations, ours included, would see key sources of income virtually wiped out. This is made worse by the fact that local authorities are swiftly cutting funding for offender services. This is leaving fewer and fewer resources to enable offenders to be rehabilitated in our communities.
If prison isn’t the answer, and there aren’t the resources in the community, where exactly do we expect rehabilitation to happen?
Shortfall of supported housing places
Sitra has estimated that there will be a shortfall of supported housing places of 46,771 by 2024/25. This is without the current cuts being proposed. The National Housing Federation states that major challenges to the sector include “reduced revenue funding… and the wider housing crisis…” (see Making the Case for Supported Housing).
If exemptions for supported housing are not provided we face a much worse homelessness and offending crisis than we currently see on our streets. Officially, the crime and reoffending rates are just starting to decrease – we need to keep seeing this trend, not see policy implemented that could reverse this.
Supported housing isn’t the icing on the cake – it’s one of the key ingredients. My hope is that the Government recognises this – and soon – and then does all it can to protect it.
This week’s blog is from Samantha Waterton, Business, Development Manager, 14th December 2015.