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Government shortfall on housing benefit could hit councils

A recent study has suggested that the government’s latest plans to cap mental health supported housing provision could come £80 a week short of what is needed.

Charity Rethink Mental Illness said that in five out of six case studies of mental health benefits, the proposed plan offered less than the money required for a person to live in supported housing.

The government’s review lists the likely weekly cost of the benefits as £175, including both rent and service charge. However, this figure would only fund a person living in a ‘move on flat’ according to the group.

Although the funding would be more than enough for this kind of accommodation, the report argued that other forms of housing, such as group homes, mental health hostels and individual flats would all cost more than the proposed figure.

The study pointed out that the effects of such a shortfall would be felt by local authorities who would have to provide a ‘top-up’ to benefits to struggling people.

“The future of supported housing is in serious doubt because of Government plans to radically change how it’s funded,” commented Brian Dow, director of external affairs at Rethink Mental Illness.

“Our new research demonstrates that under existing plans, those with the highest support plans will no longer have the guarantee of their rent being met by housing benefit.

“This could spell disaster for people with mental illness and the public services that support them.”

The organisation concluded that the government should scrap its existing benefit cap plan and produce an alternative funding mechanism.

In addition, there are calls to commit to a quality-based set of guidelines in order to ensure that standards stay high and reduce unsatisfactory experiences.

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