UK Government delays housing benefit cap for supported housing
Department for Work and Pensions - Image credit: John Stillwell/PA Archive/PA Images
The UK Government has postponed the introduction of a housing benefit cap for those living in supported housing.
Proposals to cap the Local Housing Allowance, originally planned by former chancellor George Osborne, will be deferred until 2019/20 for those living in the specialist accommodation, ministers have announced.
Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green also said local councils would be given cash to top up funding for supported housing schemes where required.
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A one per cent rent reduction for supported housing, which will remain in place for the next three years, will go ahead.
But domestic violence refuges, along with some other accommodation types, will be exempt from the reduction.
“We have heard the concerns regarding the application of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates to social rents from 2018,” Green said in a statement.
“So I can announce today that we will be deferring the application of this policy for supported housing until 2019/20.”
Labour criticised the Government for not providing more details on its long-term plans.
"This cowardly Government, sneaking out a decision to delay detailing their cuts to supported housing, has left tens of thousands of the most vulnerable people in limbo," said Shadow DWP Secretary Debbie Abrahams.
"People who have suffered domestic abuse, veterans, older people, disabled people, the homeless, and young people leaving care still don’t have the certainty they need to live their lives.
“Kicking this decision into the long grass will only extend the anxiety of the tens of thousands of vulnerable people whose secure, supported accommodation faces closure unless a full exemption from Tory cuts is put in place.”
Howard Sinclair, chief executive of St Mungo’s homelessness charity, said: “We have been exceptionally worried about the future of supported housing services since the Government announced plans last year to reduce rents and cap housing benefit for tenants.
"It is good news the Government has listened carefully and will not impose the LHA cap on supported housing tenants before the new funding regime is introduced.
"This takes a lot of the pressure off providers and helps to ensure vulnerable tenants continue to receive enough housing benefit to cover the costs of their specialist accommodation."