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Market position statement - Supported housing

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Independent accommodation for working age adults with sustained housing related support needs - Exempt from the local housing allowance (Blackpool)

Supported housing needs assessment May 2021


Supported Housing is accommodation offered by housing associations, registered charities, voluntary organisations and local authorities that offers a level of support to tenants which is over and above that which would normally be provided by a good landlord. 

It can include group homes, hostels, refuges, sheltered housing, supported living complexes, extra care housing and adapted housing for the disabled. Housing Benefit (HB) recognises the often higher costs of providing such accommodation and providers can apply for an exemption to the local housing allowance rate. 

Purpose of this statement

This document covers the council’s view on the current market in relation to supporting -

  • Homelessness and short term housing related support needs
  • Housing related support for young people aged 16-25
  • Support for adults with a long term need for housing related support

This statement sets out Blackpool’s approach to ensuring that there is sufficient, safe and appropriate accommodation with support for adults of working age with a long term health condition and/ or disability who because of the impairment have a sustained need for housing related support from a provider. Only a small percentage of adults with a disability or long term health condition require housing related support.

Sustained housing support needs are usually met by providers in specially adapted housing for adults with disabilities, either as lone tenants in apartments or houses, or as part of a group living arrangement with other adults who are not part of their family. Housing related support is aimed at people who would struggle to maintain a tenancy with a landlord without additional support, and it is different from the care that can be commissioned to support social care needs and from funding streams available to make adaptations to properties to help people with physical disabilities and ill health remain independent at home.

Sometimes the housing related support will be sufficient to meet needs, in other circumstances this will be complimented by commissioned support from Social Care and or Health. They are a well valued and well used means of support to enable people, particularly people with long term mental health needs and adults with learning disabilities to live with dignity, independence and control in their community. 

This statement is designed to:

  • Provide a summary of current provision and capacity
  • Be responsive to what providers, professionals and residents have told us about the range and quality of services available in Blackpool
  • Identify key opportunities for development which the council is open discussing with providers and
  • Outline the way that approaches for discussion can be made.

We are committed to using our powers and expertise to ensure that the provision of supported housing across the town is of a good standard, supports vulnerable people well and provides value for money to the public purse.


Whilst Blackpool remains at the heart of the UK tourism and visitor economy, it has experienced a significant decline in visitor numbers from the 1980s onward leaving a wake of low quality housing stock. It has also created high levels of deprivation with many low paid or unemployed residents with high support needs, who often have very transient lifestyles and associated social issues.

Blackpool has a higher level of private renters (28.2%) than the national average (19%) with the town having over 11,000 housing benefits (HB) claimants. There are a significant proportion of Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) in the inner wards. Up to 37% of private sector rented properties in resort areas could be classified as a HMO.

This has led, in recent years to an increase in the number of supported accommodation schemes being set up within the local authority, and a new model emerging where investors pick up a former guest house/HMO at a relatively low price on the open market and work with a developer and registered provider (or more frequently Community Interest Companies) to develop supported housing. This is purely in order to maximise return on investment, with little regard for area demand, strategy or quality.

The schemes attract very high rents and service charges, which landlords expect to be met through HB, often with the help of consultants who specialise in maximising HB levels; however, these schemes do not always attract full subsidies from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and can be considered costly for local authorities.

Supported Housing in Blackpool is primarily funded through (HB). If the provider of supported housing (the landlord) meets a specified definition then the amount of HB paid to the tenant can be claimed back nationally. If the provider does not meet the specified definition, then the council may need to pay some proportion of the costs (if it exceeds a capped amount). Currently, it is estimated that in Blackpool there are more than 550 supported housing bed spaces and more than 35 supporting housing suppliers running active schemes, which primarily consist of schemes where tenants are claiming HB on schemes that the provider is running. The number of properties per provider can range from 1 to over 100 properties. The average weekly rent per tenant varies between providers, with known rents starting as low as £79.90 with the highest average provider weekly rent seen recently as high as £452.17 per week. From 2019 to 2020, the council has subsidised HB for supported housing at a cost of £1.273m.

Quality is variable with some supported housing providers, especially those previously commissioned through Supporting People, who work closely with the council and tend to provide a good service to tenants. Whereas, others are operating entirely independently without transparent policies, information or adequate support and management. Some schemes can be shut down, with one such scheme was closed down in 2019 by the council’s enforcement team due to excessive levels of anti-social behaviour.

Aims and objectives

The overall aim of the needs assessment is to ensure the council is able to understand its current provision to meet the needs of client groups within supporting housing and identify any current issues in meeting the different types of need of those in supported housing.

The assessment also aims to understand what is known about people in need of supported housing in Blackpool. This includes information about current estimated populations of key client groups of supported housing and looking at the next steps of reviewing supporting housing in Blackpool, including looking at the current wider local support pathways and how it can improve and ensure need is met in the future.

Methodology and scope

The data used in this document combines information available through secondary research that details some of the estimates of current populations of client groups for supported housing. The rest of the data detailing the current numbers of units, providers and costs related with supported housing and information about the quality of the current supported housing provision is from the information gathered from November 2020 to March 2021.

The final section looks at the wider support pathways available to different client groups, including health and social care referral pathways and how people’s housing needs are met towards the right pathway and accommodation.

Blackpool’s population profile

Blackpool has an estimated population of 139,445 people, with a larger than average proportion of people aged 65+ people (20.4%) as compared to the national average.

Blackpool is the most deprived borough in England by rank of average score, the health, deprivation and disability domain and employment domain. 42% of lower super output areas (geographic areas of around 1,500 residents) are in the most deprived 10% of areas in England and currently life expectancy across the borough is the lowest amongst men and women across the UK.

Projections from the Institute of Public Care estimate from their Projecting Older People Population Information (POPPI) and Projecting Adult Needs and Service Information (PANSI) information services estimate the current populations of supported housing client groups as of 2020 are as follows:

Recovery housing

  • Total population aged 18-64 predicted to be at higher risk of alcohol-related health problems - 3,638
  • Total population aged 18-64 predicted to be dependent on drugs - 2,743

Domestic abuse

Estimating the number of people affected by domestic abuse is difficult due to the hidden nature of the problem and difficulties for individuals in recognising domestic abuse. From April 2020 to March 2021 there were 3,549 domestic abuse calls (incidents) reported in Blackpool, an increase of 33 from the previous equivalent time period. The majority of domestic abuse incidents tend to occur within inner Blackpool, which represents the bulk of the most deprived areas in Blackpool.

Learning disability

People with learning disabilities currently make up around with disabilities make up around 2% of all residents in Blackpool, with over 20% of those with a learning disability having a moderate or severe learning disability and just under a quarter of those with a learning disability aged over 65 years. POPPI/PANSI projections by condition and age category is shown in the table below:

  • Total population aged 18-64 predicted to have a learning disability - 1,976
  • Total population aged 65 and over predicted to have a learning disability - 598
  • Total population aged 18-64 predicted to have a moderate or severe learning disability - 448
  • Total population aged 65 and over predicted to have a moderate or severe learning disability - 80
  • Total population aged 18-64 predicted to have down's syndrome - 51
  • Total population aged 18-64 predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders - 821
  • Total population aged 65 and over predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders - 268

Mental health

There are approximately 15,374 people in Blackpool living common mental disorder such as depression (nearly 19% of the estimated working age population). Although the majority of people in this group are unlikely to require supported housing and will live independently in the community.

  • People aged 18-64 predicted to have a common mental disorder - 15,374
  • People aged 18-64 predicted to have a borderline personality disorder - 1,953
  • People aged 18-64 predicted to have an antisocial personality disorder - 2,741
  • People aged 18-64 predicted to have psychotic disorder - 571
  • People aged 18-64 predicted to have two or more psychiatric disorders - 5,866
  • Total males aged 30-64 predicted to have early onset dementia - 24

Young people

As of 2019/20, there were 652 looked after children in Blackpool, meaning Blackpool has the highest rate of children in care per 10,000. From 2017/18 to 2019/20, there were 302 youth offenders either cautioned or sentenced in Blackpool, of which a significant proportion will go on to live in supported housing.


As of 2019/2020 – approximately 3,000 households approached the council for housing advice. Approximately 800 of these were at risk of homelessness (prevention) and approximately 800 of these were actually homeless (relief”). Of those who were homeless and needed accommodation, 144 of those identified as requiring supported housing/accommodation. It is also worth noting that 53 of the 800 homeless in 2019/20 were themselves were evicted from supported housing (6.7%).

The above levels of homelessness are relative stable, and so representative of a typical year (excluding 20/21 due to Covid)

Current picture of supported housing in Blackpool

The following section summarises the current picture of supported housing in Blackpool based on data collected from the housing pilot project from November 2020 to March 2021.


The following tables below provides a breakdown by structure and by client group they provider supported housing:

Number of provider and schemes, by provider type

Number of providers by scheme
Provider typeNumber of providersNumber of ‘known’ schemes

Registered charity/volunteer



Community Interest Company



Limited company



Registered social landlord/housing association









*Some providers cover more than one category so total may not sum by adding up the provider types

Number of providers and schemes by client group

Number of providers by scheme
Client group servicedNumber of providersNumber of schemes

Domestic abuse






Learning disability/Mental health (LD/MH)



Recovery housing






Young people



*Some providers provide supported housing for multiple client groups of supported housing

Looking at the number of registered providers (social housing providers registered with the Regulator of Social Housing). Just under half of the providers of supported housing (17) are registered providers with 19 noted as not being recorded as registered providers.

Number of commissioned units and non-commissioned units (beds), including void (vacant) units

The following table details the number of units (including the number and proportion of units currently vacant) and the number properties based on schemes grouped by the client type supported. Data is based on snapshot information from 32 active schemes taken from November 2020 to early April 2021. It is important to note that due to the fast-moving nature of supported housing, the number of voids and subsequent occupancy rate is only for a specific moment in time and can change rapidly from week-to-week, particularly in supported accommodation for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, where somebody may only be in a property for a single night. This data is captured through providers who appear on the HB teams list

Number of units and schemes captured through housing benefit, by client group

Units and schemes
*Client groupNumber of unitsNumber of propertiesNumber of voids% of units occupied

Domestic abuse















Recovery housing










**Young people










*Includes young people who access services primarily for those who are homeless

** Excludes young people who are accessing services primarily for those who are homeless

Further data looking at supported housing amongst young people indicate that as of March 2021, there were 69 units for young people in Blackpool with 39 packages currently being commissioned by the council. Therefore it is possible that up to 43.5% of supported housing units for young people are non-commissioned by Blackpool Council. This impacts on recording the current occupancy levels, where the council has been made aware that a number of providers have been operating at less than half capacity. As providers take referrals from a number of other authorities, the council does not always get notified when this has happened and therefore it is difficult to track occupancy levels around supported housing for young people.

Additional data captured the council’s Mosaic system of capturing data from social care, estimates that from 252 records across 16 providers for packages commissioned across adult social amongst those with either a mental health, learning disability and physical disabilities supported need:

  • 2% of units are currently void
  • The proportion of non-commissioned units e. those who are placed from outside of Blackpool and those whose details are not on the system accounted for 18.3% of known records gathered

Costs (commissioned packages)

Supported housing data relating to young people indicate that the total cost of commissioned support for young people in the 2020/21 financial year was £3,117,834. This has risen from the previous financial year where the costs were £1,716,665. The increase in costs in 2020/21 financial period was a result of more bespoke packages being commissioned on those with more complex needs. Estimated projections for the cost of commissioned support for the 2021/22 financial year based on available data is significantly lower at £1,356,205. Over the last three financial years, the average cost per placement per year has been £44,898.12.

Across adult packages captured from the council’s Mosaic system. A breakdown of the costs by client group is shown in the table below:

Rent costs and cost of supported packages per week by client group

Rent costs
*Client groupAverage rent cost (including additional costs)Total weekly costAverage weekly cost of careTotal weekly cost of care

LD (commissioned)





MH (commissioned)





Physical disabilities (commissioned)





LD (non- commissioned)




MH (non- commissioned)









*Figure excludes block annual contract figure across 11 packages

Housing benefits - gross weekly rent

Costs for providers were gathered from those recorded as received HB, where often the whole rent is paid for out from HB. Again, it is important to note that due to the fast-moving nature of supported housing and with the number of voids that the amount of rent and HB payments can fluctuate and the data provided is a snapshot from when it was gathered. The upper and lower amount of rent per tenant within the client groups is shown in brackets (if applicable). Data is based on snapshot information from 32 active schemes taken from November 2020 to early April 2021.


The graph shows the average amount rent paid by claimants of Housing Benefit across all client groups in supported accommodation is £278.68 per week

The total rent paid per week amongst these 32 schemes came to £141,567.15.With the totals by client group as follows:

  • LD/MH - £70,004.53
  • Homeless - £54,702.81
  • Recovery housing - £7,153.20
  • Various - £7,135.23
  • Other - £2,571.38

Amongst registered provider schemes, the average amount of rent paid per week was £257.06. Among non-registered provider schemes, the average amount of rent paid per week was £311.69. With the total rent per week for registered providers coming to £78,916.88 and non-registered providers £62,650.27.

The cost by type of provider the following figure breaks down the average amount of rent paid per tenant by provider type.

The graph shows the average amount of rent and range of rent charges (in brackets) broken down into housing provider organisation types.

With the totals by client group as follows:

  • Registered charity/volunteer organisation (including charity that is also a Community Interest Company) - £78,168.20
  • Registered social landlord/housing association - £54,922.60
  • Limited company - £4,989.16
  • Other - £3,507.19

Number of people on waiting lists

Across the different client groups, the council operates on an immediate need to make those who are vulnerable are not without accommodation. As such, those requiring accommodation are often recorded and processed by individual social workers with the appropriate provision before needing to be added to a formal waiting list.

Potential new schemes and packages

Since October 2020, there have been 23 enquiries regarding setting up new potential supported schemes in Blackpool from six existing providers and 15 new providers, with one enquirer being in contact on multiple occasions. With the potential number of new schemes across following client groups:

  • Six schemes for people experiencing homelessness, including one scheme for youth homelessness
  • Six schemes across multiple categories/all categories of supported housing, including those either with a mental health or learning disability
  • Five schemes specifically for people with a learning disability
  • Two schemes for vulnerable adults
  • Two schemes for recovery housing
  • One schemes for mental health
  • One scheme for those escaping domestic abuse

Amongst young people, estimates of the number of new potential commissioned packages based on information from current cohorts states that there may be up to 139 commissioned packages required in the next four years.

Referrals and moves

Data from 22 providers representing 43 schemes when asked how many referrals there had been over the last three months (including referrals from one scheme/property to another scheme/property where the move remains within the same organisation) showed that across these schemes there were 91 referrals in total, with 20 schemes not having a referral made to their scheme in the last three months from the date of survey submission. 6 referrals were made from locations outside of Blackpool (6.6% of overall referrals).

During the same time period, 43 moves were made across 16 schemes, with no moves taking place across 27 schemes. 29 of the recorded moves were listed as planned and 14 moves as not planned.

What does our data tell us

Key aspects of the current picture of supported housing based on the data available are:

  • Current HB costs for those in non-registered provider settings such as the majority of those in settings run by limited companies and charities/voluntary group claim more HB than those in registered provider settings with over a 19% difference in cost
  • There are a significant number of providers and schemes for those at risk of homelessness, with ill mental health, for vulnerable young people and people with a learning disability, with more limited options for those with a recovery housing need, people with disabilities and those with complex needs fleeing domestic abuse
  • The proportion of registered social landlords/housing associations in Blackpool (38.9%) is significantly lower than the latest reported national average (76%)
  • Across supported housing client groups were there is a need for a more fixed long-term need e.g. people with a learning disability, current evidence points to the number of voids being lower than other client groups, indicating that the current provision is at least suitable with regards to the type of support required

Professionals we spoke to believe the market to secure housing related support is varied in Blackpool. When seeking a combination of housing related support and commissioned care for people with learning disabilities support and packages are often tailored to deliver a long-term solution in those circumstances. Care and Support providers work with the housing market to find the right solution for professionals, whether this be single tenancies or group living. It can take longer to find the right housing solution for people with physical disabilities and it is sometimes the case that for adults with physical disabilities which require accessible or adapted accommodation, finding the care package and accommodation might take longer than with those with learning disabilities. Amongst people with mental ill health, the process and engagement with service users can be closer with other groups due to the move into supported housing is often at the point of deterioration and often the process is flexible so that change in health can be accommodated for.

The following are some of the key next steps in monitoring need order to help progress the council’s overall aim to improve the standard of supported housing, improve value for money and tackle ongoing issues related to supported housing in Blackpool:

  • Expansion of data collection activities to further understand supported housing in Blackpool and help in other key areas, such as; HB scrutiny, further exploration financial background of providers in Blackpool, visits to properties and managing local supply
  • Further analysis and engagement around accommodation-based support for victims of domestic abuse – leading to the development of a strategy and market partnership with providers to protect and support victims
  • Assessments into the impact of enforcement interventions and current activity in supported housing, including monitoring of individual client movements across schemes
  • Assessments into the impact of support plan improvements in supported housing, including monitoring of individual client movements across schemes and outcomes
  • Consolidate all information on local supply to understand full picture of supported housing in Blackpool and develop a strategy of how to monitor all supported housing activity beyond the end of the pilot scheme

Market position statements

Having had regard for the aforementioned data, and having reviewed the role of pathways and quality, the council is able to offer providers advanced information of supply, demand and gaps, which can be used to inform service provision:

Short term

Short term accommodation (as defined by MHCLG in the consultation paper of 2017) includes supported housing designated for:

  • Homelessness
  • Recovery
  • Domestic Abuse


There are 215 first and second stage (move on) beds available across the town for homeless people with support needs.

Stays in supported housing for homeless people can vary, but analysis from 2017 showed that those with the best outcomes typically stayed between 3 and 6 months. Any less usually indicated a negative move on, whilst longer stays tended to predicate a revolving door with customers becoming homeless again in a 12 month period.

The council’s view therefore is that there is a sufficient number of bed spaces to meet the need, if managed appropriately, with clear pathways and quality support.

There are however a small number of people for whom traditional supported housing models (hostels and HMO’s do not work (note evictions from supported housing) and for those the evidence shows that more dispersed models of support, such as Housing First are more appropriate.

There is currently a Housing First scheme in Blackpool, run by the council, which supports up to 20 individuals, and there are also 20 designated units within council stock for those with higher support needs.

This meets the gap currently, but it is worth noting that Housing First is temporarily funded (until 2023)

Domestic abuse

The council commissions specific refuge provision, which accounts for 5 bed spaces in Blackpool, however all refuges work on a national footprint and so capacity is much broader than this.

Suitable accommodation for people experiencing domestic abuse is a gap in Blackpool, especially for those with complex needs, and so funding was applied for from 2018-2020 to pilot an alternative approach.

The pilot was a “team around the person” approach and worked with victims of DA in a wide range of settings, using the existing accommodation network (temporary accommodation, supported accommodation, and settled accommodation).

The evidence from this pilot told us that, as with homeless people with complex needs, a more dispersed accommodation model leads to better outcomes. It is essential that victims still receive the quality, expert support they would in a refuge setting, but this can be delivered in an outreach model, alongside other specialist services such as mental health and substance misuse.

The council are currently exploring funding options to retain and grow this model, but feel there is sufficiency in respect of traditional refuge space, and/or other HMO types of supported housing where multiple household with support needs live alongside each other

Recovery housing

The pathways and outcomes are less well known to the council in this area due existing recovery housing being set up without any commissioning support or involvement, however the pilot has allowed us to conduct some analysis and draw some conclusions. Most recovery housing in Blackpool is abstinence-based.

Numbers in Blackpool of people experiencing addiction are very high, however not all people who experience addiction will require housing related support.

Numbers for those for whom Recovery Housing may be an option are not clear, and neither are existing pathways.

However based on voids and movement between schemes, we can conclude that there is currently sufficiency in the abstinence based supported housing sector.

More work is needed to understand the pathways in and out of recovery housing, and current demand suggests that there may be gaps further upstream (pre abstinence - people still using drugs and alcohol and those still receiving opiate substitute treatment)) but this is not clear at this time.

The council’s public health team will be doing a focused review of this area over the next 12 months, and this document will be updated with the findings.

Long term accommodation

Adults with long term housing related support needs (typically mental health and learning disabilities)

There is no evident need for large, multi-property developments in Blackpool to meet the needs of adults of working age with sustained housing related needs. The local market has sufficient medium and large scale, shared support developments for adults who benefit from living in small communities with others who have similar needs. There are rolling vacancies in existing schemes, and no anticipation that there is a greater need emerging which exceeds this market.

For adults of a working age who require a combination of housing related and commissioned health and/ or social care support, the market is able to respond to local need within the existing provision of accommodation owned or leased by registered housing providers. Bespoke, small scale developments to meet the needs of individuals and small groups do sometimes require either acquisition or adaptation and can be commissioned on a case by case basis; but the market of accommodation available is sufficient to allow this to happen within reasonable timescales.

Young people’s supported accommodation aged 16 to 24 years

Supported accommodation for 16/17 year olds

The two factors which indicate our future demand in terms of number of beds required are the number of young people (aged 16/17) who required supported accommodation having presented as homeless and the number of young people living in residential care as they will typically follow this housing route.

Data on young people coming down the ‘housing route’ is fairly consistent showing only a small increase in numbers whilst the number of young people in residential care is decreasing. Blackpool’s current focus and investment in our internal fostering service will have a medium to long term effect on the number of our children we place in residential homes. Our hope is that we can offer family care for more of our children on a long term basis as the service grows locally.

Another contributing factor is our current step down from residential care to fostering provision. This is in its infancy but as we develop this service further we hope to see the length of time our children live in residential care reduced resulting in fewer children remaining until they reach 16 years of age.

Occupancy levels also predict demand and our data tells us that there is sufficiency in the market as there are vacancies and some of our local beds are used by young people from out of area.

The number of beds in the area only tells us half the story however as Blackpool council aspires to only place young people in quality accommodation. The increased scrutiny by our Young Inspectors as part of the MHCLG pilot has provided insight in to the quality of support locally. Young people have been given a voice through consultation events and we will listen to their views and take them in to account when developing future services.

Supported accommodation post 18

Young people who meet the criteria are able to access the Positive Transitions programme and go on to live an independent life in the local community. Those who require more time to develop the necessary life skills are supported by our internal post 18 provision which has an occupancy rate of 96%. Most of those young people eventually move on to positive transitions but some access housing in the private rented sector. A small but significant number of our most complex young people access the private rented sector immediately following their 18th birthday. Recent evidence suggests this is often problematic and does result in future homeless presentations. The accommodation on offer at the local housing allowance rate is often of poor quality. This is an area we need to further develop so our young people can live in safe quality accommodation.

Future developments

Any future development in Blackpool for supported accommodation which wishes to access Housing Benefit must comply with the following phased pathway:

  • Phase 0 - Contact and complete the initial enquiry form SH1
  • Phase 1 - Establishment of Blackpool need, before your enquiry can progress further there must be evidence of local need in your specific client group for the scheme. Our supported housing co-ordinator will contact the relevant service to check this.
  • Phase 2 - Planning checks will be carried out around planning legislation and the location of the property, to ensure any schemes meet with our local plan. You will then be asked to complete enquiry form SH2.
  • Phase 3 - Public purse due diligence. Numerous checks will be carried out by the Authority.
  • Phase 4 - Property visits from housing enforcement and where required Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service to check the property meets all the required safety standards before any tenants are placed.
  • Phase 5 - Supplementary evidence request such as details/evidence of tenancy support, rent breakdowns and any voids agreements. At this stage you will be requested to complete enquiry form SH3 and this will be sent to colleagues in Housing Benefit.
  • Phase 6 - Once all the above phases are completed tenants can move in and the Housing Benefit claim(s) can be submitted.
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