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Supporting People changes welcomed by Bromford Support MD

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Bromford Support Managing Director, John Wade has this afternoon joined the debate on changes to Supporting People following an announcement by Lorraine Regan yesterday at the CIH Annual Conference in Harrogate.

The announcement that local authorities will begin introducing payment by results models received a mixed response from delegates and housing professionals alike and prompted an immediate flurry of activity on Twitter.

Wade however strongly believes it's a really positive move. "Any change to a more outcome-focused approach has to be a good thing "he said today." Supporting People (SP) is still heavily focused on inputs; we provide 100 hours of support and the commissioner can count them and tick the box. This is just daft, it has to be about what the support is trying to achieve and whether it's actually made a difference to someone's life."

Although Wade wholeheartedly supports the move he does understand the sector's nervousness around moving to the results model given it's far more complex to measure outcomes and the robustness of these can often be questionable.

"The difficulty will come when commissioners don't have a clear idea of how something can be measured, but it can be done. For instance we know that last year Bromford Support helped 1,010 customers avoid eviction and we helped customers to achieve 81% of their identified support needs. This is a far more effective measurement than whether or not we provided the number of support hours the commissioner wanted."

Commenting on the announcement itself, Wade thought it was out-of-step with the direction of travel. "SP ring-fencing was removed some time ago with funding being absorbed into general formula grants to local authorities. This meant the centre of gravity very much shifted to local decision making, so it's interesting the Department for Communities and Local Government made the pilot announcement at Harrogate."

He added that Bromford Support were very fortunate, given the strong on-going commitment to Supporting People by decision makers in Central England.  "The people who hold the purse strings in our local authority areas take a long-term view, understanding that SP investment now can actually save money in the long term". But he acknowledged that this was not the case country-wide echoing the concerns of CIH's Domini Gunn. "SP funding can often be diverted to prop up the statutory services local authorities have to provide and so my concern is that this coupled with de-centralised decision making may mean a very positive pilot doesn't get off the ground".


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