Capping of social housing rents
In the Comprehensive Spending Review in November 2015, the Government outlined plans to extend Local Housing Allowance to social landlords. Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is the method by which local authorities identify how much housing benefit a claimant is entitled to, that supports them in paying the rent/accommodation charge and eligible service charge. Currently social housing providers are excluded from LHA.
As we reported in December 2015:
- The new rules will apply to affected individuals who sign their tenancy from April 2016 onwards, although the LHA rate of Housing Benefit entitlement will not apply until 2018.
UPDATE March 2016 – The Government have announced that the new rules will only apply for individuals signing new tenancies in supported housing from April 2017. In general needs housing the date remains April 2016.
- Supported housing is covered by the new rules.
- The Government has said they are committed to protecting supported housing. The Spending Review talks about Additional Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) being made available for this purpose.
Implications of the proposed change
The proposed change presents serious risks to the viability of supported housing. Many services project significant shortfalls between their current rent levels and the amount they would receive under LHA. We are also concerned that discretionary housing benefit migtht not be sufficient to compensate for this loss.
The initial figures we have from our ongoing research show the huge potential levels of impact.
What you can do
We need evidence from the sector about what the impact of this change would be.
- If you provide supported accommodation, please download and complete this spreadsheet and share it with our Policy team. Homeless Link will collate this evidence and use it in our discussions with Government which are currently underway. All this data will be treated confidentially and your service will not be identified unless you are happy for us to do so.
- To help you communicate your concerns to local politicians and supporters, we have published a briefing on supported housing, who it benefits, how it is funded, and the likely impact of the proposed capping of social housing rents.
- You may wish to use some of this material and write to your MP, outlining your concerns asking them to raise this issue with relevant Ministers. You may also wish to raise this issue with Ministers directly. They may choose to raise this issue, outlining the impact of these proposals on your services and their constituency, to:
- Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP (Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) and Lord Freud (Minister for Welfare Reform) - Department for Work and Pensions
- Marcus Jones MP (Minister for Local Government) and Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) - Department for Communities and Local Government.
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Head of policy and communications
Helen job shares her role with Caroline Bernard, jointly overseeing Homeless Link’s policy, research, information and communications team. Helen is currently on maternity leave.