The government planned to reduce housing benefit for tenants in supported housing. The proposed plan is to cap housing benefit payments on social rented properties to the same level as the local housing allowance for private rents. This would be a significant cut in support that people depend on to pay for equipment and adaptations to their homes to accommodate special needs due to old age or disabilities. It also allows those people who have experienced domestic violence, homelessness or a mental health crisis to to live independently. This measure would affect vulnerable tenants the most.
Bridget Phillipson MP raised her concerns with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Communities and Local Government, calling on ministers to properly assess the impact of their plans before pressing ahead with the change.
In answers to her parliamentary written questions on this issue, Justin Tomlinson MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Work and Pensions stated that the two departments are working together to conduct an “evidence-based” review of supported accommodation, and expect to publish the report soon. He also claimed that the government “recognise the importance of assessing the potential impact on specialist homes”, and that is why the local housing allowance cap for those living in social sector supported housing have been deferred by a year. Further policies and changes will be subject to the outcomes of the review.
In response to the answers, Bridget Phillipson MP said:
“This proposal will hit those who depend on support to live independently and specialist housing providers in the social sector.
“I think it is unfair that this group of social housing tenants and providers are being targeted, while the government have cut taxes for the wealthiest in our society.
“I am also worried that cuts to social rents and means-tested housing benefit would threaten the survival of social housing providers in our area. This would have a long-term impact on our local community and the wellbeing of residents who rely upon this much needed assistance.
“I welcome the temporary pause, but I urge ministers to consider carefully the impact and protect the most vulnerable.”
Bridget Phillipson MP also wrote to the Department for Communities and Local Government on behalf of many constituents who got in touch on this issue, and received a letter from Brandon Lewis MP, Minister of State on Housing and Planning. You can view the letter here.