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Could supported housing survive a 68% loss of income?

Blog posted by: Helen Mathie Wednesday, 24 February 2016 - 9:05am

Following the Government's announcement in the Spending Review that social rents would be capped at Local Housing Allowance (LHA) levels from 2018, there has been widespread concern about what this will mean for the availability of accommodation for people experiencing homelessness and other vulnerabilities. If the caps come in, how will supported housing services survive such severe reductions to their rental income, and keep their doors open to the thousands of people who live in them?

Over the past few weeks more and more voices have added their concerns to this issue. There were dire warnings about the impact on women fleeing domestic violence, as well as people recovering from mental health conditions living in the community and elderly people living sheltered accommodation. It is important these sectors get across just how many vulnerable people could be hit by these changes. Aside from the very real difference we know these services make to people's lives, supported housing also saves money and helps the Government meet their aims of reducing delayed discharge from hospital, promoting independence and reducing the need for acute care. Forcing through changes which threaten to shut them makes no sense.

Since our call out for evidence earlier this month, Homeless Link members have shared data about what would happen if their rental income was reduced to LHA levels. Based on feedback from 45 services providing around 8,000 bed spaces, the projected loss of income came in at an average of 68%, representing an estimated loss of over £39m for these services alone*. Taking into account all the other types of accommodation which would be affected by the caps, the scale of the impact cannot be over-estimated. Many of our members have already told us they will be forced to close. Many are already being forced to withdraw from planned developments and capital projects as they face too much uncertainty over future revenue. 2018 might seem some way off, but this proposal is already having an impact and reducing our ability to tackle homelessness.

Homeless Link, together with Sitra, will continue to challenge these proposals and make sure the risks they present are heard and understood across Government. As well as working with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Communities and Local Government, we have met officials in the Home Office, Department of Health and Public Health England, to flag the implications this will have on their priorities for a range of vulnerable groups, including ex-offenders and those in recovery from drug or alcohol use. We are also sharing the early findings you've helped us produce with the Treasury to stress the scale of the impact and long term costs to the public purse.

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Channel website: http://www.homelesslink.org.uk

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