One of the (many) hugely worrying things about the Government’s plans for Housing Benefit is the cap being applied to supported accommodation.
Across the country, people are given the chance to live as independent lives as possible in accommodation which comes with its own support network. Government cuts threaten this – and the human cost is appalling.
This was discussed in a Westminster Hall debate yesterday in which Tim Farron took part.
From my experience of the supported housing provided for constituents with autism and learning difficulties, I know that the LHA rent cap will mean that they simply will not be able to afford the support that they get in their current setting. They will end up in institutions or hospitals, which will actually cost the taxpayer far more money.
On Facebook, he went into a bit more detail:
Today I spoke in a Parliamentary debate on the future of the funding of supported housing. The Government is proposing to cap supported housing rents at the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate, and I am deeply concerned about the devastating effect this would have on vulnerable people in our area.
Vulnerable people like Fran (name changed for confidentiality) – she’s 47 and has severe learning difficulties, autism and challenging behaviour. She has lived in her own flat which is owned and managed by a local supported housing provider for 15 years and receives one to one support 24 hours a day.
Fran is unable to share accommodation with other people and needs a consistent routine together with support workers who are familiar with her needs and who are able to positively manage her behaviour. If Fran’s housing benefit was capped at the LHA rent, she would be financially unable to meet the shortfall. If this was not met by the ring-fenced pot , the only alternative to Fran’s current accommodation would be long term institutional or hospital care. As well as the cost of this to the taxpayer, there would almost inevitably be a devastating impact on her health and behaviour.
This is just one example, but almost without exception all supported housing tenants would be negatively affected by the proposal to cap supported housing rents at the LHA rate cap.
It is just not financially possible to deliver high quality supported housing for vulnerable people at local housing allowance levels and so the Government must rethink this flawed policy proposal.
The Government Minister’s response was less dismissive than usual. The Government has been consulting on this and will be announcing its updated plans in the Autumn. Let’s hope, for Fran’s sake, that they ensure that she and so many others can keep the supported living that they so desperately need.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron’s Musings