Disability charities warn supported housing settlement will create ‘postcode lottery’
A government announcement last week on funding for supported accommodation has been met with a mixed response, with charities warning it falls short of sustainable support for the sector.
The government had temporarily suspended a new housing benefit cap for supported accommodation, which includes women’s shelters and housing for the elderly, disabled and homeless, after it emerged that it could force housing in the sector to close or prevent new projects being built.
Last week the government announced that the cap will be suspended until 2019, and supported accommodation will then receive ring-fenced funding from local councils to make up the difference.
However, Dan Scorer, head of policy at learning disability charity Mencap, said the announcement was “at odds with what the sector has been repeatedly calling for”.
He added: “Whilst we welcome the further exemption of supported housing from the LHA cap until 2019/20, it was widely expected the government would today secure a sustainable future for the sector.
“Instead the proposal risks adding to a growing housing crisis for people with a learning disability who need the safety and security that supported housing offers.”
Scorer said the delays in building supported housing since the cap was announced had made it harder for the government to meet its aim of moving more people with learning disabilities into the community.
He also argued that it was “unclear” how the new ring-fenced funding would meet demand.
“We fear it will create a postcode lottery causing anxiety and uncertainty for those desperately in need of the safety and security supported housing offers,” Scorer said.
Mencap was also “deeply concerned” that a 1% reduction to social housing rent would now apply to supported accommodation, he added.
He said the proposals would “compromise the right for people with a learning disability to live independently, and must be reconsidered urgently”.
Howard Sinclair, chief executive of homelessness charity St Mungo’s, added that while it was “good news” that supported accommodation would be exempt from the cap, the 1% cut in rents was “a serious concern”.
St Mungo’s stands to lose over £3m in the next three years as a result of the cut, and some of its shelters could be forced to close.
“We urge ministers to honour their commitments to ensure the sustainability of supported housing provision and protect services for vulnerable individuals by taking the rent reduction off the table,” Sinclair said.
“There should be no rent cuts imposed for supported housing services in the run up to the new funding regime.”
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