After a year of uncertainty, a recent DWP Statement in the Commons offers little comfort around the future of supported housing for disabled people.
In last year’s Autumn statement, the Government announced a plan to cap Housing Benefit rates for the social housing sector at the same level as the Local Housing Allowance from 2018 onwards.
Since then, National Housing Federation figures show that 80% of planned supported housing projects have been put on hold and 40% of existing supported accommodation schemes are at risk of closure.
These are serious and pressing policy outcomes, and as a result Dimensions, alongside 14 other charities, signed an open letter to the Government calling for a sustainable future funding model for the sector. A letter which, in the main, seems to have been ignored.
Steve Scown, Chief Executive of Dimensions, said, “The main message from the Statement is equivocation, with an extension of the exception of supported housing from the LHA cap until 2019/20. Whilst the exception is vital, it must be made permanent in order to give providers confidence to build the supported housing that the sector so urgently needs.”
“By also confirming that a 1% rent reduction will apply to supported housing, the government has further discouraged housebuilding and running supported housing tenancies. In the context of the post-Winterbourne Transforming Care agenda, it seems that the right hand may not know what the left is doing.”
Dimensions urges the government to reconsider these proposals, which will have a hugely detrimental effect on the right of disabled people to live where, and with who they choose.