Supporting People saves public purse £125m per year

Supporting People

Research carried out for NICVA has revealed that every £1 spent on the £65m Supporting People programme saves the public purse £1.90.

A detailed assessment of the financial impact of the programme was undertaken by SITRA. The findings published today estimate that, without the Supporting People housing support programme, additional costs of £125.05m per year would be incurred through an increased need for services in housing, health and social care, and criminal justice.

Click here to read NICVA's Supporting People report.

Introduced in 2003, the Supporting People programme provides a wide range of housing support services to help people sustain their accommodation and live as independently as possible in the community. Among the 26,000 people in Northern Ireland relying on Supporting People are the frail elderly, people with disabilities and homeless people.

Seamus McAleavey, Chief Executive of NICVA said: “With the current squeeze on public spending we need to know what works and what is value for money. Supporting people is a significant public expenditure programme and NICVA wanted to explore if it was value for money. The figures revealed in this research suggest that simply cutting the Supporting People budget is unlikely to save the government money, and may even result in greater costs overall.”

“Investing in Supporting People delivers a net benefit to government finances because, for example, it helps to reduce alcohol and drug use, homelessness, and the need for residential care – all of which create costs for the public purse.”

Cameron Watt, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations said: “Supporting People has been an immense success, enabling thousands of people to sustain their accommodation and live with as much independence as possible providing preventative housing support services. The new research confirms that it is worth every penny and saving taxpayers millions through avoidance of costly hospital admissions and reliance on other services.

“We welcome the fact that Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey and the NI Executive have protected the Supporting People budget for 2015-16. Service providers are working with government to reform services and make them even more effective.

“To protect vulnerable people and minimise pressure on other public services, it is vital that Supporting People is recognised as a vital ‘invest to save’ programme. To fulfil its objectives, the NI Executive must ensure Supporting People remains a properly funded, dedicated housing support programme well in to the future.”

Phil Saunders, Consultant at SITRA, carried out the assessment of the financial benefits of the Supporting People Programme. He said: “Our initial findings estimate that the total cost of providing services to the vulnerable groups who benefit from Supporting People is currently about £637.81million which includes £65.6million direct expenditure on the programme itself as well as the cost of other services received.

“The findings indicate that, by comparison, if Supporting People funding were not available some £762.86million would be required to fund alternative provision and deal with the cost of adverse life events, including homelessness, which would be more likely to be experienced by service users if the programme were withdrawn.

“The difference between the two figures, some £125.05million, is substantial and suggests that every £1 spent directly on Supporting People saves the public purse roughly £1.90.”

Client groups that benefit include:

  • Homeless people, those at risk of losing their home and socially excluded groups, such as substance misusers and ex-offenders.
  • People with long-term support needs, such as learning, physical or sensory disabilities and others experiencing enduring or recurrent mental ill health.
  • Vulnerable young people at risk and older people who require support to live in their own home, or need a particular type of supported housing.

The video below from Triangle Housing explains the application of Supporting People in their supported living accomodation.

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