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Mapping the way services are funded – new Atlas data

New data collated for the is uncovering more about how services are funded and commissioned, which can impact on how people can access the help they need. Becky Rice, LHF Atlas Project Manager explains more…

There are currently 311 accommodation projects included in the Atlas. Over the last two years we have requested some top-line information about whether these services are commissioned by local authorities. 

Accommodation for people experiencing or at risk of rough sleeping is usually commissioned by a local authority and located within the same local authority area. This is not always the case though, raising challenges in data collection and visualisation. Some projects are commissioned by one borough but located in another area.

Where a project is commissioned by one borough but located in another, it’s the commissioning borough that the Atlas considers the ‘home’ of the project. For example, the City of London has an accommodation project called Grange Road, delivered by St Mungo’s, but this is actually located in Southwark (see image above). Another example is the Finsbury Project commissioned by Hackney and provided by SHP but located in Islington.  Categorising projects this way means that services are associated with the borough they are developed and funded by.

Services where ‘most or all bedspaces are commissioned for clients from the local authority for the vast majority of those included in the Atlas’ account for 239 (76%) of the 311.

It’s not always this clear cut though. 20 of the services included in the Atlas are ‘non-commissioned – for clients from various areas’. This includes larger services sometimes known as ‘direct access’ hostels, that can be accessed by a wide range of referral partners for clients experiencing homelessness. For example, Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest with 173 spaces and Lee Bridge House (Paradigm Housing Group) with 229 spaces. These large accommodation projects impact significantly on the ‘total bedspaces’ for the boroughs, which is one of the reasons we are seeking to  split this information out in future Atlas releases.

Other examples of services not commissioned by local authorities are smaller projects which fall under the category of ‘Exempt Supported Accommodation’; this means that housing benefit paid for the accommodation is exempted from the usual upper limit imposed by Local Housing Allowance. Homelessness projects that fit within this category are some of the Just Homes provision in Newham and the Quo Vardis Trust rough sleeping project in Lewisham. Exempt Supported Accommodation is often outside of the scope of the Atlas as it’s not specifically targeted to those at risk of/experiencing rough sleeping.

A small number of projects (six) are partially commissioned for clients from the local area and partly for other groups. This includes a large women’s service in Islington provided by Sapphire Independent Housing and another specialist women’s service based in Camden and run by SHP.  Another example is The Lodge at St Ursula’s which is provided by St Mungo’s and is geographically based in Camden, but jointly commissioned by City of London and City of Westminster and only accessible to clients from these boroughs.

The information provided in the last data collection round (November 2023-January 2024) is far more complete than previous data; there are now just 42 projects with no statistics provided. If the trend continues, we will be able to include data from these projects as well in the 2025 release of the Atlas.

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