Policy paper

2010 to 2015 government policy: housing for older and vulnerable people

Updated 8 May 2015

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Applies to England

This is a copy of a document that stated a policy of the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The previous URL of this page was https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/providing-housing-support-for-older-and-vulnerable-people. Current policies can be found at the GOV.UK policies list.


Older people occupy nearly a third of all homes. Nearly two-thirds (60%) of the projected increase in the number of households from 2008 to 2033 will be headed by someone aged 65 or over (see page 48 of the government’s housing strategy).

As people get older, their housing needs often change. Some people need support to be able to continue living in their own homes. Some people, of all ages, have disabilities that mean their homes need to be adapted.

Other people need help if they become homeless. They often need advice and access to services to stop them from going back onto the street. Some of these people have mental health problems that mean they need extra support.

The government recognises that reducing the number of people who are homeless will be a demanding task over the next few years. The number of people defined as homeless is rising and there are signs that rough sleeping is increasing in areas like London.


The government will provide housing support to older people and those with disabilities by:

  • providing support to people who wish to stay in their home through the disabled facilities grant, home improvement agencies and local handyperson services

  • ensuring the right advice is available by investing in FirstStop’s national service

  • strengthening choice for those who want to move into specialist housing through the care and support specialised housing fund

The government is also working to reduce the number of people who are sleeping rough.

We’ve also made it easier, cheaper and quicker for people who own park homes to enforce their rights and challenge unreasonable behaviour by site owners. The majority of the residents in this sector are retired or semi-retired and some are vulnerable.


In the 2010 Spending Review, we prioritised protection for vulnerable people, maintaining homelessness grants at 2010 to 2011 levels. We also secured investmen of £6.5 billion for Supporting People services between 2011 and 2015.

On 21 November 2011 we published ‘Laying the foundations: a housing strategy for England’. This set out a package of reforms to the housing market.

The Care Act 2014 and associated statutory guidance sets out the principles which underpin all adult safeguarding work and the duties which are placed on local authority social services and housing, health, the police and other agencies.

Bills and legislation

Local housing authorities’ responsibilities towards tackling homelessness and helping homeless people are contained in the Housing Act 1996 and the Homelessness Act 2002.

The Mobile Homes Act 1983 gives residents security of tenure and certain rights including a right to sell their homes and a right to quiet enjoyment of their homes.

The government is committed to safeguarding vulnerable adults, as set out in the ‘Statement of government policy on adult safeguarding.’ The document includes a statement of principles for use by local authority social services and housing, health, the police and other agencies for both developing and assessing the effectiveness of their local safeguarding arrangements.

Who we’re working with


FirstStop is a free, independent national information and advice service for older people, their family and carers funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). It provides joined-up advice across a range of housing, care and finance rights and issues. FirstStop is also investing in local FirstStop partnerships to offer more intensive local support and advocacy services for older people.


Handypersons do odd jobs, home and fire safety, energy checks, fall prevention checks, and direct clients to other services. DCLG has provided £51 million towards handyperson services (2011 to 2015) to deliver small home repairs and adaptations.

The ‘National evaluation of the handyperson programme’ was published on 27 January 2012. The ‘Handypersons’ financial benefits toolkit’ helps local authorities estimate the financial benefits and value for money of these services and to demonstrate savings to commissioning partners.

Home improvement agencies

Home improvement service providers are local organisations dedicated to helping older people, people with disabilities, and vulnerable people to live in safety and with dignity in their own homes.

Services are focused on ensuring that existing housing is fit for purpose and that vulnerable people are able to continue living independently as long as possible. Services include advising on improvements and adaptations, help with applying for grants or loans and help in identifying reputable local contractors to do the work. DCLG sponsors Foundations, the national body for home improvement agencies.

Housing Learning and Improvement Network

The Housing Learning and Improvement Network is the leading ‘knowledge hub’ for over 5,700 housing, health and social care professionals in England involved in planning, commissioning, designing, funding, building and managing housing, care and support services for older and vulnerable people. The network was previously responsible for managing the Department of Health’s extra care housing fund.


Shelter is a national housing and homelessness charity. The government is funding Shelter to run the National Homelessness Advice Service in partnership with Citizens Advice. This service provides specialist support and training to homelessness advisers across the country to help those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.


Sitra is an umbrella membership organisation dedicated to raising standards in the housing care and support sector. Sitra receives funding from DCLG to explore how best the sector can support the integration of housing, care and support and to develop and provide training courses.

Appendix 1: park homes

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

Park homes are legally defined as caravans and are laid out on privately owned sites where normally all the infrastructure is provided by the site owner. The site owner retains ownership of the land on which the home is placed, but the resident owns the home and pays a pitch fee for the right to station it on the land. Many sites have restrictions on the age and family composition of residents. The majority of the residents in this sector are retired or semi-retired and some are vulnerable.

The Mobile Homes Act 1983 gives residents security of tenure and certain rights including a right to sell their homes and a right to quiet enjoyment of their homes. However, many mobile home residents experience difficulties in exercising their rights. In 2011, the government transferred the process for resolving disputes under the Mobile Homes Act 1983 from county courts to residential property tribunals. This is designed to make it easier, cheaper and quicker for park home owners to enforce their rights and challenge unreasonable behaviour by site owners.

In April 2014 we announced new powers giving councils the ability to challenge site owners who do not maintain or properly manage sites. Previously councils could only prosecute through the courts, but now councils will be able to serve site owners with a notice outlining the action that needs to be taken and the deadline for completion.

Appendix 2: local councils’ housing support

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

Supporting people services (also known as housing related support services) are run through 152 top-tier local authorities to help vulnerable people to live more independently and prevent crises in their lives. They decide where to spend the money to best meet local needs and the services are mostly delivered by the voluntary and community sector, and housing associations.

Supporting people services help a wide range of people and include groups such as older people, homeless, rough sleepers, young people leaving care, people with disabilities, teenage parents, ex-offenders, people with drug and alcohol problems and women at risk of domestic violence.


Over the Spending Review Period (2011 to 2015 ) funding totals of £6.5 billion was secured for supporting people services and from 2011 to 2012 funding for these services formed part of the wider settlement to local councils.

Improving services to older and vulnerable people

We have been looking at ways of helping local authorities to deliver services more innovatively, and consider value for money, for example by testing Payment by Results through a series of local pilots, and developing more personalised services.

As part of this we have supported 8 locally-developed Payment by Results pilots. The pilots have been running since summer 2011, and the results from the final evaluation will be available later in 2014. The learning from interim reports has been shared with, amongst others, local authorities and the housing support sector.

We have also worked with several councils and other partners to explore the personalisation of supporting people services - providing people with greater control over the support they receive to best suit their lives, needs and aspirations. This has included supporting a sector-led working group who have produced a series of tools and resources.

Appendix 3: dealing with homelessness

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The Department for Communities and Local Government is committed to preventing and tackling homelessness and rough sleeping, supported by £400 million funding over this Parliament.

Our first priority on homelessness is prevention. In June 2010 we established a cross-government working group on homelessness, bringing together ministers from 8 government departments. The group works to improve the lives of those who do become homeless and helps rough sleepers to stay off the streets.

In December 2011 we announced a further £18.5 million funding for local councils to prevent homelessness. This will help local councils ensure nobody is turned away without clear and useful advice when they’re most in need. We’ve also given Crisis £13 million to help find single homeless people, including priority groups such as recovering drug users and ex-offenders, find stable, privately rented accommodation.

We’re investing an additional £1.7 million in a new scheme to support local councils to deliver a Gold Standard homelessness prevention service. The peer-led support scheme will provide free training and support to help homelessness teams learn from each other. It will be run by the National Practitioner Support Service and supported by the National Homelessness Advice Service.

We helped with the national roll out of No Second Night Out through the £20 million Homelessness Transition Fund and continue to support the government-backed hotline and web service Streetlink.

In February 2014 we published the fourth annual statistical release following the introduction of revised guidance on evaluating the extent of rough sleeping. The figures revealed that nearly 2,500 people sleep out across England on any given night.

We’re working with the Cabinet Office on the Fair Chance Fund - a £15 million payment by results programme. The prgramme targets young, homeless people (mainly 18 to 24 year olds) with difficult which if left unaddressed, are likely to lead to long-term benefit dependency, health problems and increased crime.

We have also worked with the voluntary sector to develop the “Youth Accommodation Pathway” which helps young people to remain in the family home where it is safe to do so and offers tailored support options for those that can’t.

We’re working with the Department of Health on their £40 million capital funding programme for homelessness hostel refurbishment and shared accommodation for vulnerable young people in 2015 to 2016. The homeless hostels investment will extend the DCLG Homelessness Change Programme with an additional focus on improving health.

We are providing funding and support to homelessness charities Crisis and St Mungos Broadway over 2 years to give the most vulnerable homeless people in London the right skills and training to get into work through the STRIVE (skills, training, innovation and employment) pilot.

Appendix 4: helping older and disabled people live at home for longer

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

New deal for older people’s housing

In the housing strategy the government announced a new deal for older people’s housing.

We’ve given FirstStop over £2 million to provide a national independent housing, care and finance service for older people, their families and carers. FirstStop offers free, independent advice and aims to help older people make informed decisions about their housing, care and support options. It also aims to help older people maintain independent living in later life.

We have provided £51 million towards handypersons’ services.

We are extending support for Home Improvement Agencies, who will provide help and advice to older and disabled people, housing associations and charities, including:

  • housing advice, including help to move to more suitable accommodation if needed
  • small home repairs, home safety and security adaptations
  • energy efficiency advice
  • arranging for adaptations and home repairs to be made, including grab rails, stair-lifts and major work such as ground-floor extensions

These agencies also offer hospital discharge services – giving older people leaving hospital care the support they need to be able to recuperate in the comfort of their own homes.

Disabled Facilities Grant funding

We are providing £185 million to fund the Disabled Facilities Grant from 2014 to 2015. The grant helps older and disabled people adapt their homes so that they can live in them for longer.

The Disabled Facilities Grant is a mandatory entitlement administered by local housing authorities in England. It helps to fund the provision of home adaptations which help disabled people to live as comfortably and independently as possible in their own homes. These can include ramps, door-widening, stair-lifts and walk-in showers.

Lifetime neighbourhoods

We’re committed to helping older people live independently by promoting the development of ‘lifetime neighbourhoods’. These are places that are designed to be lived in by all people regardless of their age or disability.

The government commissioned the Centre for Housing Policy at York University to produce an independent research report on lifetime neighbourhoods. The report brings together existing writings, research and practice examples. The report discusses how, for example, ageing, design, housing, transport, participation and green spaces can be linked when creating lifetime neighbourhoods.

Disability strategy and Draft Care and Support Bill

In September 2012 the government published its disability strategy. The strategy includes a commitment to create a new capital fund, worth £200 million over 5 years from 2013, for specialist housing for older and disabled people.

We have also given new duties to local councils in the Draft Care and Support Bill to make sure that care and support is not interrupted before a person’s needs are reassessed. This should help more disabled people to move to the home of their choice.

The government aims to help people to live well and independently in a home of their own choosing.

Providing support to people who wish to stay in their home

We have provided £875 million for the disabled facilities grant to fund adaptations to allow people to stay in their homes safely for longer. The grant pays for around 44,000 adaptations a year. A further £220 million will be made available in 2015 to 2016, when the grant will become part of the Better Care Fund which aims to better integrate health and adult social services.

We also fund Foundations, the national body for home improvement agencies to raise standards within the sector.

In the 2010 Spending Review we secured £6.5 billion investment for vulnerable people and housing related support.

More choice for those considering moving

We are improving choice for those who wish to move, through the Department of Health’s £315 million Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund between 2013 to 2014 and 2017 to 2018. Phase 1 of the fund was announced in July 2013 and will deliver more than 3,500 affordable homes for older people and adults with disabilities or mental health needs. The prospectus for phase 2 is due for publication later in 2014.

The National Planning Policy Framework asks local planning authorities to assess the full housing requirements in their area and plan for a mix of housing based on demographic trends and the needs of different groups in the area, including older people.

We have also made amendments to the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations, exempting from the levy those wanting to extend their own homes, or install residential annexes within their own property boundary. In April 2014 we introduced a 50% council tax discount on family annexes.