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Accountability in supported housing – one size does not fit all

Friday, 17 August 2018

Following the much-anticipated publication of the Social Housing Green Paper, Reside Housing Association’s Chief Executive Officer, Diane French, argues the need for a tailored approach to accountability.

It has been a big week for housing news. At Reside, we welcome the news that supported housing funding will remain in the benefits system. We were also encouraged to find supported housing takes up some prominence in the introduction to the Social Housing Green Paper – ‘14% of all social housing is supported housing’.

However, by chapter five, we were rather discouraged that this was its only substantive mention. It would be easy to overlook, in the overwhelming need for generic social housing, the fundamental need for additional supported housing – which enables people to live with independence in their own homes and reduces the burden on over-stretched health and social care systems.

Of course, many of the threads of discussion within the Green Paper are applicable to supported housing, such as transparent complaints processes, safe and decent homes and accountability to tenants. Who would argue with these?

But, in supported housing, we always talk about being tenant and person-focused – we tailor our services to individuals, not communities, neighbourhoods or estates.

So I am certain that we can find more meaningful routes to accountability for our 1,100-plus tenants with learning disabilities than publishing a set of generic Key Performance Indicators.

It seems to me that this is an easy-to-recommend top-down option, but meaningful tenant involvement and accountability does not lend itself to a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Our current regulatory approach to viability and governance understands this. For example, we’ve just had an In-Depth Assessment with a team of intelligent, well-prepared people who came to ask us specific questions about our financial position and our governance.

They understood that they had to adapt their questions to our particular background, so we must start with the assumption that any regulation of consumer standards will need to be just as tailored to context.

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