Internet Explorer is no longer supported by Microsoft. To browse the NIHR site please use a modern, secure browser like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

Policy Research Programme - Evaluation of the Care and Support Specialised Housing (CASSH) Fund


10 May 2022


1.0 - May 2022


Timetable and Budget



Deadline for Stage 1 Applications

14 June 2022, 1 PM

Notification of outcome of Stage 1 Application

End August 2022

Deadline for Stage 2 application

28 September 2022, 1 PM

Notification of outcome of Stage 2 Application

January 2023

Project Start

February/March 2023


£200,000 to £250,000


1. The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Policy Research Programme (PRP) invites proposals for a single research project to undertake a process evaluation of the Care and Support Specialised Housing (CASSH) Fund. This evaluation will support policymakers in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) shape policies on housing-related care and support, in the context of wider adult social care policy. This research project focuses on the processes of the CASSH Fund and has the following aims:

  • To understand whether the CASSH Fund is being implemented as intended.
  • To understand whether the CASSH Fund, as a capital subsidy, is incentivising developers to build supported housing for older people and disabled adults and whether the split among client groups is as intended.
  • To understand what the facilitators and barriers are for accessing and implementing, the CASSH Fund
  • To understand why providers decide to use the CASSH Fund as opposed to other forms of government subsidy.


2. To incentivise the building of specialised housing for older people, as well as people with physical disability, learning disability/autism, or mental ill-health, DHSC announced the CASSH Fund in 2012 to “encourage providers to develop new accommodation options for older people and disabled adults” through the ‘Caring for Our Future: reforming care and support’ Policy paper. An initial capital of £200m was established, followed by additional capital funding of £115m (announced in 2013). Spending Review (SR) 2015 provided further funding to the CASSH Fund, such that the total CASSH Fund was £76m of capital funding per year (or the amount of capital funding needed to meet demand, whichever is lower) from 2016/17 to 2020/21. Recently, SR 2020 provided £71m to the CASSH Fund for 2021/22 and the adult social care reform white paper announced a continuation of the CASSH Fund for 2022-25 with £71m provided at each of the three years.

3. Two delivery agencies, Greater London Authority and Homes England, administer the Fund on behalf of DHSC in London and the rest of England respectively. The agencies promote and encourage the take-up of the CASSH Fund. Two fixed bidding rounds were conducted under CASSH, namely Phase 1 and 2 announced in 2012 and 2015 respectively.

4. Between 2018/19 and 2021/22, the Fund has operated under a continuous bidding process instead of fixed bidding rounds. Housing providers submit bids to the agencies, which assess and approve the bids against the criteria and requirements set out in the respective prospectuses and supplementary guidance published by the agencies (for instance, the CASSH Phase 2 prospectus published by HCA (now Homes England)). The agencies then programme manage the schemes (i.e. approved bids) until their completion, and provide funding to the housing provider at key milestones (mainly start-on-site and completion). The agencies regularly report delivery progress of the Fund to DHSC.

5. There has not yet been a process evaluation of the CASSH Fund. The most relevant research in this field is the evaluation of DHSC’s Extra Care Housing Fund (which preceded CASSH in terms of incentivising the provision of extra care housing - a type of specialist housing for older people), as well as a study commissioned by the Homes and Communities Agency (now Homes England) titled ‘Financial benefits of investment in specialist housing for older and vulnerable people’. We are interested in this project in understanding the process of implementing CASSH as a funding mechanism, rather than the impact or cost-effectiveness of CASSH or supported housing or housing with care more widely.

6. DHSC, through NIHR, commissioned the King’s Fund to conduct a pre-evaluation scoping exercise on the CASSH Fund and the ‘Evaluating the Care and Support Specialised Housing (CASSH) programme: results of a scoping exercise’ report was published in November 2020. This exercise considered issues relating to a potential full evaluation and recommended that a future evaluation should cover two main areas – policy and implementation. We expect the applicants to draw from this scoping exercise when preparing their bids.

Research priorities

7. A process evaluation of the CASSH Fund is required, covering schemes commencing during the period 2022-25. It will address evidence gaps and generate new evidence to support efforts to understand the process of implementing capital funding for new supply of supported housing for older people and disabled adults. There may be potential to learn from previous iterations of the CASSH scheme for some of the research questions – however baseline data has not been collected in the past and access to admin data may be difficult for past schemes.

8. This will be a process evaluation focusing on the implementation of the CASSH Fund within the context of wider policy goals. We expect the proposed methodologies and approaches to include analysis of administrative data, and collection and analysis of primary data to determine whether or not the Fund was able to be implemented as intended. Both delivery agencies collect data relating to the administration of the CASSH Fund until the scheme building is complete; these raw data will be made available to the research team. The delivery agencies do not collect data relating to the residents of CASSH schemes.

9. It is expected that the CASSH evaluation will answer the following broad policy and implementation related questions:

  • Overall, how effective is the CASSH Fund in meeting its policy goal, i.e. to deliver more affordable long-term supported housing for older people, people with a physical disability, learning disability, or mental ill-health?
  • Is the CASSH Fund more effective in delivering a certain type of supported housing than another?
  • Is there geographical variation in how the CASSH Fund is accessed by housing providers across England? Is the CASSH Fund more effective in delivering supported housing in one locality than another?
  • How effective is the set-up of the CASSH Fund in attracting supported housing providers?
  • In terms of incentivising delivery, how effective is the CASSH Fund as a public capital subsidy programme as compared with (i) other similar public capital subsidy programmes and (ii) other forms of public subsidy e.g. specialised supported housing model?
  • How effective is the Continuous Market Engagement process in capturing market demand from supported housing providers for capital subsidy?
  • Is there any element in the CASSH Fund that discourages providers to bid for and deliver CASSH schemes?
  • Is there any factor external to the CASSH Fund that affects the delivery of the CASSH Fund?
  • Is partnership or joint working among local health, care and housing functions a pre-requisite to effective delivery of CASSH schemes in that region?

10. The King’s Fund scoping work identified areas for a process evaluation and sources where evidence may be drawn from to conduct a process evaluation of the different aspects of the CASSH fund. However, there were difficulties with using these sources which should be considered when planning the process evaluation .

11. A separate research project is being planned by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities (DLUHC) which will study the impact of investment in supported housing more generally, though focussing on older people (using English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) data). It is important that the contracted party undertaking this proposed process evaluation is linked to the DLUHC research to ensure that they offer complementary evidence on supported housing. 

Expertise required

12.Applicants should be able to demonstrate the following:

  • Expertise in evaluation of national policy programmes
  • Expertise in conducting process evaluation
  • Expertise in conducting quantitative and qualitative research and analysis

13. Ideal applicants will have the following, but this is not essential:

  • Experience of conducting research and / or evaluation on housing and / or social care policy 


14. Outputs should include:

  • periodic updates as agreed at project scoping;
  • draft final publishable report and final publishable report, with executive and lay summary in a form suitable for policy colleagues in a 1:3:25 format;
  • presentations of interim and final findings of both the process and impact evaluations, to DHSC colleagues;
  • applicants may also want to consider academic publications and/or conference presentations as applicable.

15. Applicants are asked to consider the timing and nature of deliverables in their proposals. Policymakers will need research evidence to meet key policy decisions and timescales, so resource needs to be flexible to meet these needs. A meeting to discuss policy needs with DHSC officials will be convened following contracting. 

Budget and duration

16. A total of £200,000 to £250,000 is available for this research call. Costings can include up to 100% full economic costing (FEC) but should exclude output VAT. Applicants are advised that value for money is one of the key criteria that peer reviewers and commissioning panel members will assess applications against.

17. We expect the research project to be completed within 1-2 years of contracting. 

Management arrangements

18. A research advisory group including representatives of DHSC and DLUHC, and other stakeholders as appropriate should be established. The advisory group will provide guidance, meeting regularly over the lifetime of the research. The successful applicants should be prepared to review research objectives with the advisory group, and to share emerging findings on an ongoing basis. They will be expected to:

  • Provide regular feedback on progress;
  • Produce timely reports to the advisory group;
  • Provide comment to all final reports.

19. The research team will be expected to work closely with nominated officials in DHSC, its partners and the NIHR Policy Research Programme. Key documents including, for example, research protocols, research instruments, reports and publications must be provided to DHSC in draft form allowing sufficient time for review. 

References and key documents

Mayor of London (2018). ‘The Mayor’s Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund Homes for older and disabled Londoners’. [Accessed April 2022]
HM Government (2015). ‘Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund: phase 2 prospectus’. [Accessed April 2022]
HM Government (2018). ‘Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund: Supplementary information for Continuous Market Engagement’. [Accessed April 2022]
Housing LIN (2011). ‘Improving housing with care choices for older people: an evaluation of extra care housing’. [Accessed April 2022]