“Gift vouchers are rubbish….”

cards

“You can only use them in one shop”

I think my 13 year old son has just explained why the ring fence was not only removed from Supporting People but why it won’t ever be put back.

For the best part of a decade the supported housing sector seemed to forget what a vibrant, creative and innovative place it had once been. It became bloated and lazy knowing that every year local authorities would get their annual Supporting People Gift Card from CLG…….obliged to spend it with them.

Sure, as they pushed their trolley round “SP R US” the commissioner could swap a few ‘floating support finest’ contracts for a bumper pack of ‘value supported living’; but essentially there was only one show in town.

The removal of the SP ring fence was the equivalent of my son opening a card to find a crisp new £20 note instead of a GAME voucher. He does love new games for his Wii or his DS…….but he also likes to download music, get the latest Stoke kit or browse round a range of different shops with his mates.

At Bromford it is a bit of a mantra that it’s not what life throws at you that is important but how you react to it. The removal of the SP ring fence is here to stay…..and at Bromford Support it has kick started something of a renaissance in developing and testing out new ideas.

If we want local authorities (and other agencies too) to come into our store ready to spend their £20 notes then we had better understand what problems and challenges they are facing and how we can help solve them.

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5 responses to ““Gift vouchers are rubbish….”

  1. John – i’m all for innovative solutions for supporting vulnerable people but I cant agree with your analogy at all. Taking away the ringfence means your son may not even get a card is aa better one. His friends and family may decide they have other priorities to spend THEIR money on rather than gifts or cards. Thats not just saying that providers created the pot of money – which they did -and now local government see it as THEIR money to spend as they see fit, which is the reality of the removal of the ringfence on the money.

    Your argument about innovation is good and would hold if just the constraining ‘grant conditions; were removed yet left the ringfence on the pot or total amount of money. That is the key issue. If would ensure your son got a card, ensure he had choice within that envelope…. even if he made the wrong spending choices with that ……such as a Stoke City shirt!

    “If we want local authorities to continue to come into our store to spend their crisp new £20 notes then we had better understand what problems and challenges they are facing and how we can help solve them.” The reverse is true also. Take the confirmation yesterday that LHA is going to be frozen from April 2012 – March 2013. What problems does that pose for SP providers? Will their SP outcome targets on throughput be met? Can they be met because of this? What impact does this have on the SP contract terms? Its not providers fault is PSLs decide not to take move-on cses from homeless hostels or other accommodation based support services because of the LHA freeze. Yet the SP provider has a contract that says they will secure move on and a number of contractual obligations to deliver x number of successful move-ons? What is those contract are payment by result ones? The provider is up the proverbial creek without the paddle. So local authorities and commissioners need to know what provider problems are too!

    Will they acknowledge this? Or wont they even open the letter you send them?

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