I was really pleased to read the Government's announcement on Friday that it is extending funding for the supported housing pilots so that wider evaluation can be undertaken after a further six months. The timing of this announcement coincided with the week that Birmingham City Council launched its Charter of Rights (together with Spring Housing) and Quality Standards.
It is great to hear how the funding to date has helped the four pilot areas to date - Birmingham, Blackburn, Blackpool and Hull - in developing initiatives in the area of supported housing, which is crucial for helping vulnerable individuals but does clearly need greater consistency of service and monitoring.
With additional funding and time, those areas will be able to build on the work of the previous six months and the initial funding. This will then hopefully generate case studies and data that will enable a useful and thorough evaluation of the project, looking at what has worked and hasn't. I see real benefit in these pilots that allow testing of funding and innovative initiatives in a 'safe space' and ironing out of issues before a wider rollout.
The hope then is that there can be real investment in this sector and development of a clear national policy and approach, without hindering solutions at a local level. Moving forward, this will undoubtedly need additional funding for all local authorities to drive good standards, create strong local partnerships and connections, and ultimately provide good, quality, affordable housing for those that need it.