§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister(Yvette Cooper)
The Government are today publishing the Independent Review of the Supporting People programme, which was conducted by Eugene Sullivan of RSM Robson Rhodes LLP. Copies of the review will be available in the Libraries of both Houses and on the ODPM websitewww.spkweb.org.uk.
The Government is allocating £1.801 billion for the Supporting People programme in 2004–05, which will fund housing related support services for over 1 million vulnerable people including victims of domestic violence, older people and those with mental health problems. The programme funds an estimated 250,000 units of housing related support, compared to fewer than 100,000 in 2000.
On the basis of the Independent Review, local authorities will be expected to make efficiency savings of up to 2.5 per cent. in 2004–05, with a proportion of the savings reallocated to local authorities to fund services that have come on stream in 2003–04 and are reaching unmet need.
The Supporting People programme began in April 2003, drawing together nine different funding programmes, including Transitional Housing Benefit. Following significant late growth in costs last year, the government commissioned the Independent Review to look at value for money and the variation in unit costs and services across local authorities. The Review has found that there are wide variations in unit costs between authorities, and that 1.8 billion is too much to pay for the legacy services. It recommends that efficiency savings can be made, but that the pace of change needs to be managed to avoid difficulties for service users and small providers.
The Government are concerned to ensure that value for money is achieved and that valuable services for the vulnerable are sustained. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister are therefore asking the Audit Commission to undertake detailed inspections in a series of local authorities with high unit costs, alongside their routine inspections, to inform the Spending Review and funding allocations for 2005–06.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister are also beginning today a consultation on the grant conditions for Supporting People in 2004–05, which we are proposing to keep broadly the same as 2003–04. The consultation ends on 24 March. We are writing to local authorities to inform them of their allocations.