“Unnecessary scaremongering” or a serious risk to specialist supported housing

For the last month I have written about my concerns that specialist supported housing is in jeopardy because of an announcement in the Autumn Statement that will cap rents in specialist supported housing to Local Housing Allowance.

At BHT we have estimated that 44% of our supported homes would become financially unviable. Analysis by the PlaceShapers group of housing associations suggests 440,000 specialist supported homes across the country would have to close.

The cap is due to be implemented from April 2018, prompting a DWP spokesman to say: “This is unnecessary scaremongering, which does nothing to help those it purports to represent. The truth is that nothing will change until 2018.”

The DWP has form on these kind of pronouncement. Do you remember that it said that “Universal Credit will be implemented on time and in budget”?

The DWP’s suggest that “nothing will change until 2018” is either completely disingenuous or its spokesman doesn’t understand what he is talking about. The cap, which takes effect from 2018, will impact on anyone who moves into specialist supported accommodation from April 2016.  We are having discussion about whether we will be able to accommodate anyone from April who will be under 35 in April 2018 because the cap will hit the under 35’s hardest.

David Orr from the National Housing Federation, has said that if this cap applies to specialist housing, “tens of thousands of vulnerable people will be unable to afford the cost of their home and care. Huge numbers of people will be affected from older people and dementia patients, to disabled people and women fleeing domestic violence – they cannot go without specialist care and support.”

The NHF said that 2,400 planned new homes have already been scrapped as a result of this cap.

Polly Neate from Women’s Aid, said the cap would undermine government plans to put specialist domestic abuse refuges on a financially sustainable footing. She said that an estimated 12,000 women will stay in refuge every year, more often than not, with their children. “Uncertainty about the future of housing benefit payments is already directly impacting on services plans for the future and a risk to the future of refuge provision is a risk to women and children’s lives.

She said that Women’s Aid is urging government to make clear its intentions to exempt domestic violence refuges from these regulations as a matter of urgency. I think we need to see the current exemptions to capping continue.  Where will women with support needs move to if all other services are subject to the cap?  Many will just not be there.

The next two years will be ok for BHT’s services, but come 2018, there are several services that will not be viable. Is this “unnecessary scaremongering”? I will leave it to you to decide whether you believe the DWP.

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