One of the key challenges that Sitra has reported on over the last six months, has been the status of supported housing under the changes proposed under the auspices of Welfare Reform. Much has been made of the DWP’s short term decision to protect, or not, the supported housing sector through the vehicle of exempt accommodation status, and since April there have been a steadily growing number of projects who have begun to be impacted by changes such as the Bedroom Tax, Benefit Cap and many have significant concerns about Universal Credit arrangements for helping claimants with rent.
What will the future hold?
Sitra has begun a small piece of research trying to add up the amount of Housing Benefit being paid to claimants of working age[i] living in supported and sheltered housing in a small sample of English local authorities.
The Department for Communities and Local Government, Department of Health and the Department of Work and Pensions are taking part in an advisory group overseeing the research. Full details of the research can be found here. We are working in a small number of authorities to map out the provision of supported housing, and are asking providers to supply us with a wide range of data about their services. This research comes at a critical time. In a letter from Lord Freud to Sitra shared in April this year, he reiterated their commitment to identify a long term solution to this situation and Sitra, alongside other partners in the sector, are very anxious that this long term solution is backed up by an accurate and comprehensive picture of what is actually out there.
How can you help?
We need your help now. In order to populate this map with as much accurate data as possible, we need to ensure that commissioners and providers get involved in the research – and this includes providers registered with the HCA, registered charities and not for profit organisations and Housing authorities. Without concrete information about what is out there then there is a very real risk that any localised pot does not meet the full costs of providing high quality supported housing.
[i] The Government distinguishes between “working age” and “pension age” according to the current state pension age for women. This currently means asking whether a person was born before 6th November 1951.