William Eichler 31 August 2017

Welsh government’s housing-related support services ‘need improvement’

The Welsh government’s programme designed to deliver housing-related support services needs ‘improvement’, say auditors.

A report from the Wales Audit Office (WAO) into the Welsh government’s Supporting People Programme recognises there has been ‘some improvements’ in the service, but says progress has been ‘slow’.

The £124.5m Programme provides grant funding to local authorities to deliver housing-related support services to a range of people, from those with physical disabilities to victims of domestic abuse.

The Auditors noted improvements in the service but said the current objectives do not recognise explicitly the Programme’s role in preventing homelessness and tackling poverty.

They also expressed concerns about the way the Welsh government has communicated the implications of changing policy on the Programme, including legislation on social services, future generations and housing, and UK Government policy on welfare reform.

The Welsh Government has consulted recently on revised objectives as part of wider changes to Programme guidance, the Auditors acknowledged. However, developing these new arrangements has taken longer than expected due in part to resourcing constraints.

The WAO’s report highlighted that, at a local and regional level, more needs to be done to ensure that service planning builds on good quality information about peoples’ needs.

‘The Supporting People Programme provides important support to those who need it most,’ said Auditor General, Huw Vaughan Thomas.

‘However, the Welsh government, working with its partners, needs to do more to demonstrate the overall impact and value for money of the Programme and to ensure that it is being delivered consistently in line with its expectations.

‘There are important lessons to learn from the way the Programme has developed, given the increased emphasis that the Welsh government is placing on regional working in local government and the ways of working envisaged by the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.’

A Welsh government spokesperson said: 'We welcome the Wales Audit Office’s view that the Supporting People Programme provides important services and has made considerable progress in recent years.

'We will study the report and its recommendations in detail and respond in due course.'

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