Speaking to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, ministers from DCLG said it would not be long before a decision was made on supported housing
Marcus Jones, a minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), told MPs at a Westminster Hall debate on future funding for supported housing that “the issue of timing is not lost on us” and promised to provide fresh proposals “later on this autumn”.
The debate focused on government proposals to extend the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cap on regular housing benefit to supported housing, a proposal which would see significant cuts to the budgets of housing associations and charities.
The debate was brought by Conservative MP Peter Aldous, who told the hall: “The Local Housing Allowance rate was designed for the private rental sector and bears no relation to the cost in the supported housing sector. It is important that we get this right, as the lives of many vulnerable members of society depend on it.”
Aldous recommended that the government consider adopting the findings of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, which in May this year called on the government to discard the proposal and introduce in its place a bespoke supported housing allowance.
In response to Aldous, Jones said: “I believe that when those proposals come forward, they will indeed show that we have listened and that we have understood the very important issues at hand and the important issue at stake here, because what’s at stake here is helping and supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”
Jane Ashcroft, chief executive of Anchor, England’s largest housing association for the elderly, said: “It’s great to hear the minister confirm that addressing the future funding of supported housing is a government priority. The sector has repeatedly voiced its concerns about the consequences of capping housing benefit for thousands of vulnerable people in the UK. I am glad that the government is listening.
“The right solution is vital if we are to protect some of the oldest and most vulnerable people and reduce additional demand for the hard-pressed NHS.”
Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, added: “We are very close to making a final decision on this. The work this committee has done and hopefully you will see that when we respond.
“There needed to be a relook at the current system and we want to bring clarity to this very quickly.”
The issue of the LHA cap has become increasingly fraught, especially since the general election, after which the sector called on the government to delay the controversial plans.