Government offers £300 million boost to specialised housing


Housing providers will be able to bid for money from a £300 million fund to help boost the provision of specialised housing for disabled and older people.

The government had announced a new £200 million housing fund as part of its care and support white paper in July, but it could now invest as much as £300 million over the next five years.

Providers such as local authorities and housing associations were told this week that they could start bidding for a share of the funding, which the Department of Health believes could result in up to 9,000 new or modernised homes.

Bids will initially be focused on properties for affordable rent and shared ownership, including wheelchair-accessible housing.

The housing schemes for disabled people will include both independent and semi-independent living arrangements.

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat care services minister, said: “Our £300 million fund will help create thousands of homes, providing people with more choice and an alternative to residential care.”

Sue Bott, director of development for Disability Rights UK, said the new money was “very much welcomed”.

But she warned that to make the funding effective there needed to be “more joined-up government”, and pointed to cuts to housing benefit that “may prevent some disabled people and older people from being able to take advantage of this initiative”.

The funding bids will be assessed by the Homes and Communities Agency and, in London, by the Greater London Authority.

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, said: “Quality housing for older and disabled Londoners is in short supply and there is a pressing need to meet increasing demand.

“By allowing people to move to well-designed, accessible homes, it will also help to give older and disabled Londoners renewed independence and dignity.”

He added: “I’d like to see some truly innovative proposals coming forward, ones which set new standards in design and that can provide a benchmark for how this type of housing should be delivered.”

Next summer, the government will launch a second phase of the fund, which will be open to private specialised housing providers.

1 November 2012