The government has launched the second phase of a housing fund earmarked to increase the number of affordable specialised homes.

Designed to help promote independent living for older and disabled people, as well as those with mental health problems, the Department of Health’s Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund is worth £120 million and will be delivered via the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

It will be restricted to areas of the country outside London and the HCA's role as the government's delivery partner will be to use its understanding of local markets to allocate cash according to the particular needs of each area.

The second phase has a particular focus on affordable housing provision and the creation of mixed tenure developments. Priority will be given to those with mental health problems.

Care and support minister Norman Lamb said providing the right kind of housing is "a vital part of improving the health and wellbeing of many people", with those tackling mental illness and learning difficulties being sure to benefit from the opportunity to live more independent lives.

HCA chief executive Andy Rose endorsed these sentiments, noting that the provision of specialised housing is a "vital means" of helping the elderly and those with mental problems. He added that this can have a positive knock-on effect in terms of better health, a higher quality of life and a lower cost burden for the health sector as a result.

As a result, the provision of more specialised housing will make a "real difference" to the most "vulnerable" people in society, Mr Rose concluded.

The need for more social housing forms part of a wider overall challenge to increase housing across the UK. This includes not just the provision of public sector rental or social housing, but also the commercial market, in which the provision of 'affordable' housing has been eroded by rapid price inflation in recent decades, interrupted only occasionally by downturns such as that created by the financial crisis.

Charlotte Cook, a partner at Winckworth Sherwood Solicitors, commented: "that it is encouraging to see government recognising the needs of some of the often neglected members of society, who have sometimes complex and particular need."