What is intensive housing management?

Intensive Housing Management (IHM) is the collective term for all the additional ‘services’ provided in supported housing or in sheltered housing over what is typically provided in general needs housing.

General Needs housing is your common or garden council flat or house which is rented unfurnished and is a self-contained unit for which you have exclusive occupation and exclusive possession of that unit.

So in sheltered housing you may have communal areas which are furnished and in some models a resident warden service. The provision of a furnished communal area and of a resident warden are additional to the standard services provided in general needs housing and are a simple way of describing intensive housing management or IHM.

IHM ‘services’ are also part of the tenancy agreement and are part of the provision of the housing rental and as such their costs are funded through Housing Benefit if they are eligible services

Supported Housing – comes in many forms and with many levels of IHM.  The most intensive IHM services are to be found in temporary and emergency housing models such as refuges and homeless hostels.  At their simplest form refuge and hostel need to be furnished as residents entering them dont have furnishings; and because many of them are emergency access services which admit new residents at any time of the day and every day of the year, they need resident staffing to achieve this.

A good example is refuge and hostel provision and below are just some of the necessary expenditure items that comprise intensive housing management in such a setting and are claimable from Housing Benefit:

Individual rooms need to have beds, mattresses, bedding, wardrobes, chests of drawers, cots, carpeting, waterproof mattress coverings, carpets and curtains (note all soft furnishings need to comply with fire retardency regulations and insurances also dictate this too). All fixtures such as beds, wardrobes etc., also need to be more durable than ones typically found in domestic settings such is the wear and tear they receive from having so many occupants in any year.  Increasingly in hostel settings social services departments are dictating such items as desks in all rooms for care leavers etc.

Communal areas typically comprise:

  • a communal living area furnished with settees, coffee tables, TV, etc
  • communal kitchens with all white goods, cutlery, crockery and all the usual things one finds in a domestic kitchen as well as fire blankets and fire extinguishers
  • communal toilets and bathrooms – with sanitary hoppers as well as all usual domestic items found in bathrooms – additional requirements could include yearly water testing requirements and other health and safety matters
  • communal laundry – commercial washers and dryers due to heavy usage
  • communal areas such as stairs – all need carpeting and decoration and will have higher repair and decoration costs due to very heavy usage – also need emergency lighting and fire, smoke and CO2 alarms
  • communal garden and playground area – childrens playground equipment is an eligible cost in making up the intensive housing management rent in refuges

Staffing – as emergency accommodation staff need to be on hand 24/7 and 365 days per year.  What is often overlooked in 24/7 provision is that unlike a Monday to Friday office provision staffing always needs to be covered and such services cant ‘make do’ if a member of staff is unable to come to work.  This means that each full-time equivalent (FTE) post is in fact 1.19 members of staff to cover holidays, sickness, training and other absences – and that 1.19 figure does not factor in maternity or paternity leave. Hence IHM staffing costs are much higher in 24/7 provision.

There are many more costs such as the internal decoration of the building usually lies with the support and IHM provider and not with the landlord.

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