The authors, Prof Kenneth Gibb and Dr Vikki McCall explain:
“Much of the focus in this paper is on social impact and preventative benefits. Prevention is about spending now to save later or, in other terms, to reduce failure demand by tackling causes in the present to reduce symptoms in the future”.
In 2010, the Scottish Government promised a decisive shift to prevention and set up specific funds relating to older people’s services, early years intervention and reducing reoffending. Progress has been patchy and uneven and clearly takes time.
The wide range of Housing Support activities is funded by multiple, more or less visible and identifiable sources: services differentiate between the housing tenure people are in, with respect to access to benefits, whether funding comes from non-ring-fenced council budgets, distinguishing capital from revenue spend (including benefits), among other complicating factors. This has implications for accurate reporting of spending on Housing Support directly in the round, but also our ability to connect it to other activities which depend on it. There is a pressing challenge for national-level statistical analysis in Scotland to address this gap.
The report makes three main recommendations:
First, national government and social policy leaders need to understand what many practitioners know i.e. that Housing Support through its different models has a critical contribution to make interventions more successful. We need to map and classify all of the different models’ funding streams, the quality and quantity of statistics on Housing Support, and understand who is really accountable for Housing Support as a whole and for its individual components. This should involve more detailed accounting research to calculate the prevention benefits of the models discussed in this paper (and also identify the challenges to realising those prevention benefits and how they might be overcome).
Second, Housing Support providers need to make the case – to the Scottish Government, local government, the professional housing community, and, critically, to all parties they work with in partnership within the care and associated worlds where these models already apply. There needs to be a national partnership effort to properly understand and account for the outcomes, impacts and economic benefits/savings associated with Housing Support.
Third, seeking to influence and frame the key stakeholders should start straightaway because we know that any one of these financing strands can be closed down or redirected at short notice, as has happened at the past, and well thought through models that change peoples’ lives should not be at the whim of decisions made remotely for other reasons out-with local control. Housing Support providers and their partners need to bring higher visibility to the evidenced elements of Housing Support work and its positive outcomes, and that it is essential to construct a well-defined budgetary area for Housing Support in toto, such that funders know the consequences of changes to these strands. This recognises that the evidence is far from complete and there would be considerable.