CHR Hosts Supporting People Event

The Centre for Housing Research (CHR) hosted a Supporting People: Client Records & Outcome Networking and Training event in the ICOSS Building, University of Sheffield on 19th February 2015. Supporting People (SP) was a funding programme launched by the New Labour government in 2003 to fund, plan and monitor housing-related support which helps vulnerable client groups live independently. In England the ring-fence for this funding pot was removed in 2009, and austerity measures have further created a difficult operating environment for local authorities tasked with meeting the often complex support needs of vulnerable and low-income households.

The event opened with an introduction by Centre’s Director Dr Kim McKee [download slides], who traced the history of the programme and the challenges faced by local authorities working within continuing public sector funding cuts and welfare reform. This was followed by Project Manager, Norm Stewart [download slides] who talked through the highlights of the 2013/14 annual report. This was then followed by Burcu Borysik from Sitra [download slides], a membership organisation representing those providing housing-related support. She reflected on the broader value of the data collected by CHR for the sector at both a local and national scale, highlighting the importance of evidence in making claims about value for money and preventive spend. Sitra have published a number of reports drawing on the St Andrews data, and in a previous consultation exercise in 2011 strongly endorsed the work of the Centre:

"The responses to the data consultation carried out by Sitra in 2011 recognised the key role of the Centre for Housing Research in the collection of client records and outcomes data for housing related support. Sitra believes that submitting and collecting this data through the Centre for Housing Research gives access to valuable data for local service development as well as for regional and national comparisons."

The event concluded by demonstration training of our online web interface delivered by Project Assistant Craig Mudie. The first of its kind, this highly successful event attracted 40 delegates from across England as well as representatives from housing research teams within the Welsh Assembly Government and Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Reflecting on the event, CHR Director Dr Kim McKee added: “this is the first time we have run an event of this type and we’re pleased at the positive response from the sector. We recognise local authorities are now delivering support services in a very financially difficult operating environment, and we wish to work with them to enhance the data we collect. It is important robust evidence continues to be collated at the national level”.