Tim Farron explains how the Government’s cuts to supported accommodation will harm most vulnerable

One of the (many) hugely worrying things about the Government’s plans for Housing Benefit is the cap being applied to supported accommodation.

Across the country, people are given the chance to live as independent lives as possible in accommodation which comes with its own support network. Government cuts threaten this – and the human cost is appalling.

This was discussed in a  Westminster Hall debate yesterday in which Tim Farron took part.

From my experience of the supported housing provided for constituents with autism and learning difficulties, I know that the LHA rent cap will mean that they simply will not be able to afford the support that they get in their current setting. They will end up in institutions or hospitals, which will actually cost the taxpayer far more money.

On Facebook, he went into a bit more detail:

Today I spoke in a Parliamentary debate on the future of the funding of supported housing. The Government is proposing to cap supported housing rents at the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate, and I am deeply concerned about the devastating effect this would have on vulnerable people in our area.

Vulnerable people like Fran (name changed for confidentiality) – she’s 47 and has severe learning difficulties, autism and challenging behaviour. She has lived in her own flat which is owned and managed by a local supported housing provider for 15 years and receives one to one support 24 hours a day.

Fran is unable to share accommodation with other people and needs a consistent routine together with support workers who are familiar with her needs and who are able to positively manage her behaviour. If Fran’s housing benefit was capped at the LHA rent, she would be financially unable to meet the shortfall. If this was not met by the ring-fenced pot , the only alternative to Fran’s current accommodation would be long term institutional or hospital care. As well as the cost of this to the taxpayer, there would almost inevitably be a devastating impact on her health and behaviour.

This is just one example, but almost without exception all supported housing tenants would be negatively affected by the proposal to cap supported housing rents at the LHA rate cap.

It is just not financially possible to deliver high quality supported housing for vulnerable people at local housing allowance levels and so the Government must rethink this flawed policy proposal.

The Government Minister’s response was less dismissive than usual. The Government has been consulting on this and will be announcing its updated plans in the Autumn. Let’s hope, for Fran’s sake, that they ensure that she and so many others can keep the supported living that they so desperately need.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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4 Comments

  • Richard Underhill 12th Oct '17 - 11:08am

    What sort of “challenging behaviour” Tim?

  • Sue Sutherland 12th Oct '17 - 1:20pm

    We need more, not less, supported housing. This is the only way we are going to be able to solve the problem of homelessness. People who have been street homeless for some time suffer from a range of problems and if unsupported can cause problems for their neighbours. People with learning difficulties may not be able to provide themselves with meals and can become very distressed by things in life that we take for granted. One of the people I used to work with was very frightened by rain, for example, and would scream and shout.
    Likewise homeless people benefit from a great deal of help initially and then a subsequent reduction, because they have forgotten essential life skills. This is apart from problems they may have with alcohol, drugs or mental health which often result in challenging behaviour.

  • Shaun Young 12th Oct '17 - 1:46pm

    Working in the ‘Supported Housing’ field, this would have serious long term implications for not only tenants who receive support, but also for the family/friend networks they live close too for support as well.

    As a Housing Officer I worked closely with CPN’s/Psychiatric services who, are under increasing pressures. Visiting on weekly one-to-one basis, I built up a ‘relationship’ sometimes over several years and could identify issues in early stages that I was able to flag with family or the local CPN/Mental Health Service, which prevented more intense reactive responses if things started to deteriorate i.e. stopping meds etc. If the intervention was early by other services, this prevented possible harm to my tenants or periods of hospitalisation and the ensuing costs to the local NHS service provider.

    The issue around ‘cost’ is far more nuanced, as to offer accommodation in a more ‘expensive’ location close to family networks is more than, I believe offset by the additional costs associated with intervention if a tenant is placed away from networks that are able to offer mutually beneficial ‘social’ security.

    I just hope the Minister seriously engages in the consultation, and listens to those who are/will be responsible for managing the potentially negative long term consequences for those affected by any changes.

  • Peter Hirst 13th Oct '17 - 3:25pm

    Why can’t these people be offered jobs such as gardening that would give them an income so they are at least partly self funding for this accommodation?

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