Specialist supported housing supports people with learning disabilities or physical disabilities to live independently, within their communities, with security of tenure and care and support as required.
Its growth began in 2001, with the Government’s White Paper Valuing People. It pledged to transform services and enable people to lead full and independent lives. Further Government policy has built on this and local authorities have followed, with some significantly reducing the amount of residential care being commissioned for people with learning disabilities. The sector has responded by shifting services towards supported living, although it hasn’t been without its issues. These include different funding streams, ever-decreasing local authority budgets, considerations around regulation and concerns of isolation.
Although provision has steadily increased, in October 2016, Rob Grieg, Chief Executive of NDTi wrote in the Guardian that he was aware of policy coming full circle, back to residential care. He wrote, ‘commissioners have started to move back to a residential care model on supposed cost grounds’. He cited a consultation in Rochdale, ‘which seeks a £1.4m saving by “transforming” supported living provision and replacing it with a range of residential care and other services.’
Despite these pressures, for those looking to commission, operate or live in supported living, there’s a new pipeline of money for development to help increase supply.
New investment fund
The Supported Housing Investment Limited Partnership (SHIP) is a new joint venture between USS, one of the largest pension schemes in the UK, and Morgan Sindall Investments (MSIL), a developer and investor that works in strategic joint ventures with the public sector. The joint venture has committed £100m to drive forward and expand the future pipeline of supported living.
The fund is predominantly for investment in HB Villages, a specialist developer of purpose-built supported living apartments for vulnerable adults with learning and/or physical disabilities. MSIL owns a 50% stake in HB Villages. However, it does create opportunities for other developers, as well as providers, to work with HB Villages.
Richard Dixon, Director of MSIL explained the intentions for the fund, ‘Although the primary focus is on HB Villages and providing it with the capital it needs to drive forward and expand its development pipeline, SHIP also has the ability in appropriate circumstances to invest in good quality portfolios of specialist supported housing that have been delivered by other developers and investors.’ USS, as an investor, looks for long-term, stable returns.
HB Villages was set up as a strategic national response to what the company says is, ‘the widely acknowledged undersupply of “fit-for-purpose” housing for vulnerable people, enabling them to lead better and more independent lives.’
Its model provides purpose-built accommodation for vulnerable adults with learning or physical disabilities. The accommodation is designed to provide individuals with a greater level of independence and the ability to live in their own home, whilst receiving the care and support that they require. Integration and inclusion in community life is encouraged, along with the development of skills that enable greater independence (supported by the care provider).
HB Villages has delivered hundreds of apartments in 30 towns across England, valued at around £70m. It also has a £100m live development pipeline of apartments in planning or construction – with a significant proportion being built by MSIL’s sister companies, Lovell Partnerships Limited and Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure Limited. MSIL’s property and asset management business, Community Solutions, will manage the portfolio of future schemes which SHIP invests in.
HB Villages’ schemes are commissioned by councils and clinical commissioning groups where significant local need has been identified. Once constructed, the properties are leased to partner housing associations on a long-term basis. The schemes are 100% privately-financed. Investors receive a return based on rental income, so as an investment proposition, Richard explained, ‘it is particularly suitable for long-term investors, such as significant UK pension funds like USS’.
The schemes bring together high-quality bespoke housing, personalised adaptive technology and person-centred support in a single integrated model. The HB Villages team works in partnership with registered social landlords, care providers and commissioners, including Inclusion Housing, Lifeways and technology provider, ATEL. The new fund and the expansion it brings will increase opportunities for other providers to be involved.
Richard continued, ‘HB Villages is already working with a number of registered social landlords and care providers…and it is keen to work with other high-quality providers to ensure that the right type of specialist supported housing and the associated care packages are delivered for local communities.’
SHIP sees long-term demand for supported living. Richard explained more, ‘As attitudes and government policy towards care have changed, to move increasingly in favour of greater independence, demand for purpose-built accommodation in the form of adapted apartments has grown rapidly.
‘Specialist supported housing provides a cost-effective alternative to residential care. The fixed costs associated with specialist supported housing are lower than residential care homes, so too is the cost to the taxpayer. The relevance of this solution is particularly acute in the current context where local authorities are coming under severe pressure to fund the costs of care for the vulnerable and elderly in the communities they serve.’