2. To an external observer the referral mechanism is often the distinguishing feature of non-commissioned supported housing because in a commissioned setting there is an arrangement between the public body that has nomination rights and the accommodation provider.
3. The non-commissioned supported housing provider may receive:
- self-referrals by the prospective residents themselves,
- referrals from other entities such as charities, voluntary organisations, community groups etc.); and
- referrals from public bodies (not under formal nomination rights).
Pejorative use of the term “non commissioned”
4. A sub-sector of non-commissioned supported housing has come under increased scrutiny and criticism because of its perceived shortcomings. This sub-sector may be characterised by many or all of the following factors:
- predominantly small-scale registered providers (under 1,000 units);
- voluntary organisations and charities;
- “converted shared housing in Victorian suburbs”;
- avoidance of HMO planning legislation (for example, small-scale registered providers who are exempt);
- residents being “needified”;
- inadequate support;
- problems for neighbours and the communities in which they are located; and
- fronts for private capital taking advantage of the HB exempt accommodation scheme.
5. It is for these reasons that the term “non-commissioned supported housing” has become a pejorative one. For example, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Probation states:1Accommodation and support for adult offenders in the community and on release from prison in England, An inspection by HM Inspectorate of Probation (July 2020), p. 28
In recent years, there has been growth in what is termed non-commissioned supported housing. […] These can be single dispersed units but are often houses in multiple occupation.
The level of additional support is often less than for commissioned housing-related support, and the same system of quality assurance does not apply.
These properties are exempt from the Local Housing Allowance and receive additional housing benefit funding.
These schemes vary considerably in quality. Where landlords are socially minded, individuals may have better quality accommodation and a higher level of support. However, the West Midlands has seen a large growth in these schemes, some of which have been of lower quality and have drawn in many with offending histories who have clustered in certain areas, which has proved problematic.
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