Osborne’s housing benefit cap could mean tens of thousands of the most vulnerable citizens losing their homes

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Grave concerns regarding the impact of proposed housing benefit cuts on the most vulnerable social groups have also arisen. Last month a specialist housing association 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.

John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Housing and Planning, warned at the time that housing providers could be forced to close accommodation for the most vulnerable because of housing benefit cuts.

Brighton Housing Trust (BHT) 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 single room within a house.

The Trust said 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 warned that the government’s offer of additional Discretionary Housing Payments to plug the rent shortfalls would also be insufficient.

The housing benefit cuts which were announced last Autumn in  George Osborne’s budget Statement are claimed to be aimed at bringing housing benefit rates for social housing in line with the sums paid to landlords in the private sector. However, the National Housing Federation has raised further concerns in a press release statement today. The Federation’s Chief Executive, David Orr, said:

“New homes for people with support needs – vulnerable people – that would be being built have been cancelled.

The impacts of the LHA cap are real and immediate. The threat alone has caused the building of thousands of specialist homes for the nation’s most vulnerable to grind to a halt. And if the cap comes into force, our research suggests that 156,000 specialist homes could be lost.

The PM has said that this would be a government that supports the vulnerable. But if this cap applies, society’s most vulnerable – dementia patients, women fleeing domestic violence, army veterans suffering mental health problems, older and disabled people – will be asked to find an extra £68 a week.

“We have repeatedly tried to engage the Government on the urgency and severe impacts of this cap on supported housing – we need clarity that this won’t apply to those in specialist homes today.”

Mr Osborne said the move, which will affect England, Scotland and Wales, would deliver savings of £225m by 2020-21, and is part of a £12bn package of cuts from the welfare bill. Conservative ministers claim they are reviewing the sheltered housing sector “to ensure it works in the best way possible”.

But hundreds of planned new sheltered accommodation units have been delayed or scrapped owing to proposed cuts to housing benefit. And several housing associations have said they are no longer financially viable. The National Housing Federation (NHF) has calculated that nearly 2,500 units have so far been scrapped or delayed as sheltered housing providers face losing an average of £68 a week per tenant.

Flats for elderly people and people with learning disabilities are more expensive to build and run because they provide crucial additional support. Concerns raised about the cap on housing benefit will affect society’s poorest and most vulnerable people, such as  women fleeing domestic violence, dementia patients,  army veterans suffering mental health problems, older and disabled people, because these peoeple  will need to find an extra £68 a week.

BBC News reports that a further four housing associations confirmed their plans had needed to change:

  • Southdown Housing in East Sussex has ben forced to scrap plans for 18 units for people with learning disabilities
  • Knightstone Housing in Somerset has delayed a complex of 65 homes for the elderly and 13 properties for learning-disabled people
  • In Manchester, Contour Homes has had to put on hold a scheme to build 36 units for the elderly
  • In North Yorkshire, Harrogate Neighbours has delayed construction of 55 extra care flats

John Healey MP Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Housing and Planning, has commented further today on the new reports of the effect that the Chancellor’s planned cuts to housing benefit are having on specialist accommodation for elderly and vulnerable people. He said:

“George Osborne’s crude cuts to housing benefit could mean tens of thousands of people losing their homes, including elderly people with dementia, veterans and women fleeing domestic violence.

“The consequences of these cuts are being felt right now, with the building of thousands of new homes stopped or scrapped because of Ministers’ failure to act.

“Labour will continue to lead the opposition to these crude cuts. George Osborne must halt these dangerous plans and consult fully with housing providers to safeguard this essential specialist housing.”

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Pictures courtesy of Robert Livingstone

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8 thoughts on “Osborne’s housing benefit cap could mean tens of thousands of the most vulnerable citizens losing their homes

  1. Reblogged this on amnesiaclinic and commented:
    My Godmother was a former Secretary of The National Federation of Housing Societies. She will be turning in her grave – or rather, spinning rapidly.
    This is so harmful and retrograde and hitting the most vulnerable the hardest.
    Sadly, there seems to be no depths to which this government will not stoop.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Cameron goes on TV to explain that of course he will ensure that his government will do all it can to protect the diverse but vulnerable needy. He sounds so utterly convincing and sincere, yet every word he utters is Bullshit! He is not just conservative with the truth he is like a second hand car dealer with a gift for selling ice cubes to Eskimos. These well crafted sound bytes paying lip service to what is expected of him are delivered as always with the smooth smarm of someone used to conning their way through life but it is false affect to beguile the gullible. Blair had it too, and we all know where he took us. We really need to stand up to him and tell him we are fed up with his glib charm and easy well honed sociopathic narratives, as if he had truly pontificated on the actual harm his policies and doctrine have done to the poor and most vulnerable, and give us instead truth and evidence based facts. Of course that is not possible because his whole campaign to be elected and the policies he has “justified” were and are based on lies. And that folks, will stand up to scrutiny, without any “probably” .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The phrase ” COULDN’T ORGANISE ONE IN A GD BREWERY ” springing immediately to my mind.ANYONE DISAGREE??or agree feel free to comment I can take it n believe me will try to do whatever it takes to halt this CRAZY MADNESS.THIS COUNTRY IS ONCE AGAIN BEING RUN-HA HA by a bunch of pampered donkeys with no experience or understanding of the society they are paid to mis rule n run.Hey politicians heaven knows what numpties voted you in but never forget YOU ARE EMPLOYEES OF THE CITIZENS OF THIS LOST IT’S WAY state.N WE SHOULD B ABLE TO TAKE YOU ON AND OUT WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT????.Or is that not what an alleged free speech means???.

    Like

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