Labour MP for Redcar Anna Turley today warned the cap on housing support for social rented properties would make sheltered housing schemes for vulnerable people unviable and at risk of closure.
In the Autumn Statement in November the Chancellor announced the cap on housing benefit for social housing tenants would be brought in line with that for the private sector.
Housing associations and charities have warned of closures if the government do not exempt supported housing schemes which support vulnerable people like the elderly, homeless veterans, and victims of domestic violence.
The Local Housing Allowance is paid to tenants based on the required property size and is only available for rental costs. The cap does not take into account the additional service charges for services like specialist care staff in supported housing.
“Far from making the welfare system fairer, this cruel policy will hit a lot of vulnerable people with specialist housing and care needs. In some cases it could force tenants to find over half of the cost of their accommodation. To meet these costs individuals will be at risk of falling into debt, or worst still, lose their homes.
This is not the way a decent, caring society supports its most vulnerable and I urge the government to urgently back track on their plans.”
Labour called an Opposition Day debate in the chamber today to press the government to change tack given the impact the policy. Anna made an intervention in which she highlighted the limited capacity of the discretionary housing fund to make up the shortfall for vulnerable tenants.
In the chamber, Anna said:
“The discretionary housing fund is at the moment already barely covering the amount of people who are applying for it given the impact of bedroom tax and this is just another attempt to further stretch that when it is already not going far enough.”
She also criticised the government’s disregard for the concerns of the organisations helping people on the ground:
“These constant references to shroud waving are in fact an insult to those refuges and the housing associations who are genuinely concerned that they are going to have to close accommodation for the most vulnerable people.
For example, Thirteen who do great work in the Tees Valley with veterans, with ex-offenders, women fleeing domestic violence, those recovering from additions, are going to have to close supportive accommodation.
If the party opposite are so genuinely bothered about scare mongering and shroud waving they could put an end to that by doing something about this policy today.”