Housing benefit cap could leave most vulnerable homeless

Thousands of vulnerable people across the country could face homelessness if the Government goes ahead with its planned housing benefit cap on sheltered and supported housing, says Stonewater, a leading UK social housing provider which manages a range of women’s refuges, shelters and specialist supported living schemes for the young, disabled and elderly across the country.

Following an Opposition day debate in Parliament this week (27 January) on the impact of proposed Government cuts to housing benefit and supported housing, Stonewater’s Chief Executive Bob Strachan has contacted MPs in the organisation’s constituencies highlighting Stonewater’s concerns.

“We welcome the Government’s announcement of a year-long exception for all supported accommodation from the 1% rent reduction in the social rented sector. We are, however,
disappointed at the lack of clarity on whether the housing benefit cap will apply to supported housing or not,” says Bob Strachan in his letter.

His comments come amid widespread industry concern over the impact of the Government’s plans to roll out new caps on housing benefit from April 2018. Stonewater believes that if the cap is applied to specialist social housing, thousands of vulnerable people may be unable to afford the cost of their home and care, and many supported living schemes could become unsustainable.

“If the Government decides to apply the benefit cap to sheltered and supported housing, many of these schemes could be forced to close,” says Bob Strachan. “We support the National Housing Federation in calling for assurance that the cap will only apply to working age tenants in general needs accommodation and are urgently seeking further clarification from the Government as to how the interests of residents in specialist housing schemes will be protected.”

Figures from the National Housing Federation show that the cap would hit vulnerable people by an average of £68 a week and would lead to 82,000 or four in 10 sheltered and supported housing schemes closing their doors.

“The cost of delivering supported and specialist services to those in greatest need is higher than general needs accommodation and this must be weighed against the additional pressure on health and other budgets which results from failing to provide a place to live for vulnerable members of our communities,” says Bob Strachan. “Until the Supported Housing Review is complete, the continued lack of clarity around the housing benefit cap means that supported housing services will effectively remain in limbo and potentially under threat.”