Registration with Ofsted
Starting from 28 October 2023, all providers in England are offering housing and support (supported accommodation) to 16 and 17-year-old looked-after children, and care leavers must now legally register with Ofsted. The change addresses long-standing concerns over the sector's lack of regulation, aiming to ensure the safety and well-being of these vulnerable individuals. Running such a service without registration is now an offence.
Ofsted issued guidance on 4 April 2023 which provides an overview of the registration process. There are four categories of supported accommodation accommodation for which registration is required: Single Occupancy, Ring Fenced Shared Accommodation, Shared Accommodation (Non-Ring Fenced), and Accommodation in a Private Residence and these categories become conditions on the registration. Therefore, providing housing and support in relation to a category not registered for, will be an offence. Registered providers must demonstrate that they have the capacity, appropriate experience and skills to manage or carry on the service having regard to the category or categories of supported accommodation they provide.
The Supported Accommodation (England) Regulations 2023 (“the Regulations”) introduce four Quality Standards which all registered providers must comply with: the leadership and management standard, the protection standard, the accommodation standard and the support standard. These standards emphasise maintaining safe living conditions, effective governance, safeguarding residents, and providing personalised support plans. Further guidance on the Quality Standards were issued by Ofsted in March 2023: Guide to the supported accommodation regulations including quality standards (publishing.service.gov.uk).
Principles for Young People
Eight principles underpin the new Regulations, focusing on young people's rights and entitlements. The principles were developed with care experienced young people. For example, the first principle emphasises young residents' right to feel safe and secure in their living environment. The expectation is that providers must deliver their service in a way that reflects the eight principles.
The Registered Provider will need to appoint an experienced registered service manager who will manage the individual settings and ensure that the service complies with the Regulations including the Quality Standards. There is no formal limit to the number of settings that a Registered Provider can run, provided that the Registered Manager can effectively supervise the management of all the settings in the service. In addition to ensuring that there are sufficient qualified staff in place and appropriate policies as required by the Regulations, the Registered Provider will also have requirements to notify Ofsted of events such as a serious event or complaint. In addition, at least every six months Ofsted must be sent a report from the Registered Provider regarding the Registered Provider’s review of the quality of support provided by the service and the experience of young people living in each setting.
Inspection and Ratings
Once registered, all Registered Provider’s will undergo Ofsted inspections, with full implementation scheduled for April 2024 after a consultation period. Registered Provider’s will be rated on their performance, from Outstanding to Inadequate, and Ofsted will have enforcement powers to address concerns, including prosecution and registration cancellation.
Until now, this type of accommodation has had no independent scrutiny and so these changes mark a significant step in ensuring consistent standards and protection for young individuals in supported accommodation.
We regularly advise clients on both the regulatory and property aspects of supported accommodation for both young people and adults. Please contact Siwan Griffiths, Partner should you require more information on the regulatory aspects or Sarah Newton, Senior Associate on the property aspects.