Supporting People:how did we get here and what does it mean for the future?




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


This study explores the implementation and impact of Supporting People, a policy of the New Labour and Coalition governments of 1997 to the present designed to provide housing related support to those considered vulnerable. The theoretical framework uses concepts from past studies of implementation, policy networks, governmentality, path dependency, other temporal concepts and a recent heuristic that provides an independent framework for analysing policy success.

This conceptual framework was used in exploring the history of care and support services in the UK; assessing the successes and failures of the past. The study then looks at the drivers and policy goals for Supporting People and at some of the key reviews and studies of it thus far.

The fieldwork uses a “mixed methods” approach utilising both quantitative and qualitative methods. An initial survey gathered views from a range of supported housing professionals, followed by a series of in-depth interviews with management practitioners from Supporting People funded organisations. Both stages utilised ideas from the conceptual framework in asking about implementation processes and successes and failures of the programme. This section also explores the use of evidence, dissemination and impact.

In terms of the Supporting People policy, the study found a number of areas of strengths on which to build e.g. increased funding and improved strategic frameworks, but also many areas of weakness that require improvement. These include protection for funding, consistency across local authorities, fragmented structures of related policy networks and the top-down implementation style of the policy – there were lessons from No Second Night Out (NSNO) – Leicester in this regard. This was a piece of evaluative research carried out in tandem with the main study and integrated into it.

The study found a consistent failure to provide adequate services for vulnerable people; services had failed to build up sufficient path dependent processes to protect them from funding and other resources being diverted to other priorities. The lack of a legislative and conceptual consensus around what it means to be “well housed” was key.



Supporting People, Housing, Homelessness, learning disabilities, mental health, housing with support, supported housing



Research Institute