27th Oct, 2016

Borough residents who rely on housing benefits could be left homeless if Government cuts go-ahead

Solihull Editorial 16th Mar, 2016 Updated: 21st Oct, 2016

BOROUGH residents who rely on housing benefits to pay for support and sheltered housing could be left homeless if Government’s proposals to ‘decimate’ Local Housing Allowance (LHA) are given the go-ahead.

Older couples, people living with disabilities or mental health conditions, young families and war veterans could be forced to find an extra £164 on average each month to get the help and support they rely on if the plans go through.

The ‘potentially catastrophic’ proposals, announced during Chancellor George Osborne’s spending review, involve capping the amount of rent housing benefits will cover in the social housing sector.It is due to come into force from 2018.

Currently, LHA is paid to thousands of social housing tenants across England.

Although it will only affect those who move into supported housing from 2016, concerns have been raised over the high demands of people requiring this type of accommodation which could result in many schemes becoming inviable.

The housing association Bromford has warned the changes would result in vulnerable residents being left without a roof over their heads, piling pressure on the area’s NHS and council social care services.

Around 58 per cent of Bromford’s 2,226 supported and sheltered homes would be affected if the plans were approved.

The National Housing Federation has revealed under the changes, 156,000 specialist homes could be forced out of business by the spiralling costs, which is 41 per cent of all sheltered and supported housing in England.

Bromford is now urging people to lobby their MP over the issue as the industry steps up its campaign to force the Government into a U-turn on its policy.

Chief executive Philippa Jones said that without their support many vulnerable people would see a deterioration in their circumstances and may well end up needing acute mental health services, A&E, hospital admission or residential care.

She added there was also an increased likelihood in residents becoming homeless or embroiled in the criminal justice system.

“If the LHA cap is implemented in its current form it would decimate sheltered and supported housing and could have a potentially catastrophic impact on some of our most vulnerable people.” Miss Jones said.

MP Julian Knight added in 2010 the Government inherited a housing benefit system which was uncontrolled with housing benefits being nearly doubled since 2003 to £24billion a year.

“We have to get it under control as a country and a community,” he added.

Mr Knight said he had discussed with ministers how best to protect the most vulnerable residents.

He added a £870million discretionary housing payment budget would also enable authorities to ensure vulnerable groups were not negatively impacted by the changes.