Benefit cuts put 70,000 in sheltered accommodation at risk
DOMESTIC violence victims, pensioners and people with mental illness face losing their homes due to Tory plans for changes to housing support, MPs warned yesterday.
As many as 70,000 vulnerable residents living in sheltered accommodation will be affected by the introduction of local housing allowance (LHA) rates, the Commons work and pensions committee found.
The allowance, which comes into force in two years’ time, will mean housing providers being paid different rates depending on where they are based.
The committee said that linking supported housing to private rental LHA rates was an “inappropriate starting point” for a new funding system.
The report warns that as some areas will be far more reliant on a local top-up allowance than others, it risks creating a disparity in the supply of home and services between different parts of the country.
Committee co-chair Helen Hayes, a Labour MP, called on ministers to abandon the LHA proposal, saying: “Tenants are anxious that they may no longer have the guarantee of a home for life.”
Her Tory counterpart Richard Graham raised concerns that the proposals are “unlikely to achieve” their stated objectives of ensuring quality, value for money and providing greater local control.
Labour and charities also waded in, calling for them to be scrapped. Shadow housing spokesman John Healey said the Tory funding plans for supported housing “spell disaster.”
He warned that a Tory vote on June 8 “will be a vote to shut down vital housing for the elderly, armed forces veterans, people with disabilities and the homeless.”
Riverside Housing Association spokesman John Glenton said the proposals would create “a postcode lottery of funding” and would mean “some existing schemes would be at risk of closure.”
Mencap learning disability charity chief executive Jan Tregelles called the report a “stark warning that homes and lives of vulnerable people are in jeopardy” and said it should be “essential reading for all parties as they write their manifestos.”
Rethink Mental Illness associate director Danielle Hamm said: “We hope that the next government will listen to the committee and abandon this disastrous idea.”
The committee recommended the introduction of national standards to assess the quality of supported housing provision in England and Wales and the replacement of the proposed LHA with a supported housing allowance that reflects the true cost of different types of accommodation.