The PDF report ‘Funding supported housing for all: Specialised Supported Housing for people with a learning disability’ estimates there to be between 22,000 and 33,000 specialised supported housing units, which is two to three times the size of current estimates of the SHH sector. The demand for SHH properties is anticipated to reach 25,500 – 33,500 units by 2021/22.

Despite rents for SHH generally being higher than some other forms of supported housing, the research found that SHH is a cost-effective way of providing housing to those with complex needs, given that it attracts no or only very limited public funding.

The research also finds that living independently with support in the community has a positive impact on people’s wellbeing for people with a learning disability . The provision of SHH is a housing alternative to people with complex needs who might otherwise have lived in residential care, or NHS provisions such as ‘secure’ accommodation.

Demand for supported housing from people with a learning disability is projected to increase from 38,500 units in 2015 to 59,800 units in 2030 due to population increases of people with a learning disability and national policies that promote people moving out of or avoiding registered care to live in community-based housing.

Beatrice Barleon, Policy Manager at Mencap, said:

“The Specialised Supported Housing sector has a crucial role to play in the Government ’s ‘Transforming care’ programme, giving people with a learning disability the opportunity to live in their community and with choice over where they call home. Until now we only had a limited understanding of the size of the sector, and this research shows that it is far larger than previously assumed, and at the same time cost-effective.

“The Government must now ensure that Specialised Supported Housing is seen for what it is – a vital and cost-effective route to accessing a home in the community.”

Jeremy Porteus, the Housing LIN’s Managing Director, said:

“With the demand for supported housing for people with a learning disability set to increase by over 35% by 2030, if we don’t kick start the housing supply right now, their future accommodation choices remain bleak. We therefore urgently need to create the conditions to boost the provision of supported housing, including wholly privately funded solutions, to give the sector renewed confidence to build the right homes.”

Tessa Bolt, who has a learning disability and lives in specialised supported housing, said:

“I moved into specialised supported housing when I was 30. Before then I lived with my parents. I love them but I wanted to be independent. Nobody wants to still be living with their parents at 30! After a lot of talking, my parents agreed and I now live in a house run by Golden Lane Housing, with Elizabeth and Katie, two other girls who have a learning disability. I love living with them, we’re like family.

“I couldn’t live on my own without support, but I don’t want full time care I’m not a child! Specialised supported housing means I can be independent but have day to day support from Mencap. My support workers help me get out and do the things I love. I make my own choices and I get to live the life I want, something everyone has the right to."

Further findings from the research

When looking at the overall cost for an individual requiring care and housing, the research finds that a person living in SSH requires state funding of on average £1,569 per person per week for care and housing costs compared to:

  • £1,760 per week on average for a residential care placement (where people have moved from residential care into SSH)*
  • £3,500 per week on average for an inpatient place.


For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or

Notes to editors

Link to report with methodology, key findings and case study comment:

* Mencap is campaigning to ensure the goals of ‘Building the Right Support’ are realised, which will see 30-50% of in-patient beds closed by March 2019, and community services, including housing options, developed.

About Mencap

There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education , employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want. 

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact the Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life.

People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.

Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.