Response to Government Consultation

Client: The Supported Housing in Partnership (SHIP) Group, representing support providers in London.

Timeframe: research and response to be delivered over around one month.

Brief: The Supported Housing in Partnership (SHIP) Group asked me to prepare a draft response to Government’s proposals to change the way Housing Benefit helps those living in supported housing through what is termed ‘exempt accommodation’. The brief included drafting an initial response, leading workshops and consulting with members and then drafting a final response for the management committee to submit.

How Delivered: I had a clear brief to guide me but very limited time. The initial stage involved online research plus discussions with colleagues in housing associations, representative bodies, consultants and central government. It emerged that government’s current proposals on ending ‘exempt rents’ for certain types of supported housing weren’t an immediate threat to SHIP members but indicated a line of thinking on the part of government that could inadvertently undermine a sustainable funding mix for the future. I felt we had to major on this one key point, but couch it in terms that gave our response credibility and would be listened to.

Through steering group meetings and a forum, I subjected my draft response to critical comment. We had to look united in our response, so I had to build consensus out of some differing views within the group, We got there and the management committee submitted their comments on time.

Outcome: Not very much, which on this occasion was the desired outcome. Hopefully our response modestly contributed to the government’s deeper understanding of the complexities and interdependencies of the funding streams for supporting vulnerable people in the community, and encouraged them to leave matters unchanged for the time being.