Rise in demand for specialised supported housing

April 30, 2018

New research commissioned by Mencap, in partnership with Housing LIN, has revealed the rise in demand for specialised supported housing. It says that the Specialised Supported Housing (SSH) sector is more than double the size of previous estimates and that demand for SSH is rising.

Funding supported housing for all: Specialised Supported Housing for people with a learning disability estimates there to be between 22,000 and 33,000 specialised supported housing units, which is two to three times the size of current estimates of the SSH sector. The demand for SSH properties is anticipated to reach 25,500 to 33,500 units by 2021/22.

Despite rents for SSH generally being higher than some other forms of supported housing, the research found that SSH is a cost-effective way of providing housing to those with complex needs, given that it attracts no or only very limited public funding.

The research also finds that living independently with support in the community has a positive impact on people’s wellbeing. The provision of SHH is a housing alternative to people with complex needs who might otherwise have lived in residential care, or NHS provisions such as ‘secure’ accommodation.

Demand for supported housing from people with a learning disability is projected to increase from 38,500 units in 2015 to 59,800 units in 2030 due to population increases of people with a learning disability and national policies that promote people moving out of, or avoiding, registered care to live in community-based housing.

Beatrice Barleon, Policy Manager at Mencap, said, 'The Specialised Supported Housing sector has a crucial role to play in the Government’s Transforming Care programme, giving people with a learning disability the opportunity to live in their community and with choice over where they call home. Until now, we only had a limited understanding of the size of the sector, and this research shows that it is far larger than previously assumed, and at the same time cost-effective.

'The Government must now ensure that Specialised Supported Housing is seen for what it is – a vital and cost-effective route to accessing a home in the community.'

Jeremy Porteus, the Housing LIN’s Managing Director said, 'With the demand for supported housing for people with a learning disability set to increase by over 35% by 2030, if we don’t kick start the housing supply right now, their future accommodation choices remain bleak. We therefore urgently need to create the conditions to boost the provision of supported housing, including wholly privately funded solutions, to give the sector renewed confidence to build the right homes.'

Tessa Bolt, who has a learning disability and lives in specialised supported housing, said, 'I moved into specialised supported housing when I was 30. Before then I lived with my parents. I love them but I wanted to be independent. Nobody wants to still be living with their parents at 30! After a lot of talking, my parents agreed and I now live in a house run by Golden Lane Housing, with Elizabeth and Katie, two other girls who have a learning disability. I love living with them, we’re like family.

'I couldn’t live on my own without support, but I don’t want full time care I’m not a child! Specialised supported housing means I can be independent but have day to day support from Mencap. My support workers help me get out and do the things I love. I make my own choices and I get to live the life I want, something everyone has the right to.'

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