Headlines: May 18th, 2000

The first stage of radical plans which will modernise the fraud-vulnerable and costly housing benefit system are under way, with the production of two consultation papers setting out how the whole progress will be implemented and managed.Under the new Supporting People programme, funding for supporting the less well off, disadvantaged and disabled to live in their homes will shift from central to local government. Councils already administer housing benefit and other schemes falling under this banner.

The aim is to encourage councils to crack down even harder on the current levels of fraud and poor targeting towards the most in need by giving them control of the money involved.

It also hopes councils will take a more strategic approach to provision, integrating it fully with social and health services, housing, neighbourhood renewal and community safety.

Supporting People will be fully rolled out by April 2003. The Transitional Housing Benefit Scheme was introduced on 1 April and will ensure that all services are maintained throughout the transition period.

The consultation period for phasing the implementation of Supporting People ends on 15 November. Responses on managing the changeover should be received by 7 July.

Consultation papers are available from the Supporting People Unit. Phone John Brookes on 020 7944 47