John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Housing and Planning, has warned that housing providers could be forced to close accommodation for the most vulnerable because of housing benefit cuts.
Mr Healey responded to a recent survey released yesterday which reveals that 95 per cent of specialist housing providers could be forced to close accommodation for the most vulnerable because of housing benefit cuts. He said:
“Last month, we revealed that George Osborne’s cuts to housing benefit support for thousands of elderly, disabled and homeless people could mean that vital supported accommodation across the country could close.
This new survey confirms the catastrophic impact these cuts could have.
George Osborne must halt these dangerous plans, publish a full impact assessment and consult fully with housing providers to safeguard this essential housing for those who need it.”
Grave concerns regarding the impact of the proposed housing benefit cuts on the most vulnerable social groups have also arisen within the housing sector. A specialist housing association has warned that people under the age of 35 in mental health accommodation face rent shortfalls of almost £200 a week under government plans to cap housing benefit for social housing tenants at Local Housing Allowance rates.
Brighton Housing Trust (BHT) have said that its fincancial modelling of the impact of capping housing benefit for social tenants, including supported housing tenants, at Local Housing Allowance rates revealed that 70% of all its homes would be unaffordable to under 35s under the plan, as they would only qualify for the “shared room rate” – the cost of renting a room within a house.
All its general needs housing in Brighton would become unaffordable to under-35s by between £12 and £32 per week. In its specialist supported housing, under-35s would face a shortfall of between £52.60 and £193.49 in 71 of 101 mental health units. There would also be shortfalls of up to £75 per week in specialist drug and alcohol units, homelessness hostels and young people’s accommodation.
Tenants older than 35 would also be unable to afford many of the homes, although the benefit gaps would be smaller.
BHT is a specialist housing association which provides for tenants with support needs, even in much of its general needs accommodation.
The association has warned that the government’s offer of additional Discretionary Housing Payments to plug the rent shortfalls would be insufficient.
The housing sector is urgently lobbying for an exemption for supported and sheltered housing from the LHA cap.