MPs have called on the government to scrap plans to base rent allowances for supported housing tenants on rates used for claimants in the private rented sector and introduce a new Supported Housing Allowance.
The Communities and Local Government Committee, together with the Work and Pensions Select Committee, argues it is inappropriate to use the Local Housing Allowance rate and recommends that a new ‘Supported Housing Allowance’, banded to reflect the actual cost of provision in the sector, should be introduced instead.
In a new report published this week, the Committee also suggests a separate funding system for women’s refuges and calls on the government to work with providers and women’s charities in devising it.
Richard Graham MP, Co-Chair of the inquiry and member of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: “Supported housing is deeply valued by those who live in it and contributes enormously to their independence and wellbeing.
“We support the Government’s aims to reform funding for this vital sector to ensure quality and value for money, protect and boost supply, and provide greater local control.
“But we are concerned that the proposals, as they stand, are unlikely to achieve these objectives.
“Our recommendations seek to improve the Government’s plans and ensure it delivers on our common goal of a sustainable, long-term funding solution for supported housing.”
Helen Hayes MP, Co-Chair of the inquiry and member of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said: “The proposals have caused considerable concern. Supported housing providers are reconsidering investment plans, shortfalls in the levels of service are expected to get substantially worse and vulnerable tenants are anxious that they may no longer have the guarantee of a home for life.
“Ministers must intervene immediately by scrapping the proposed Local Housing Allowance reform. The sector needs a far more suitable funding system that recognises the consistent cost of provision across the country and provides long term reliability.
“Supported housing caters for an incredibly diverse range of people, from long-term sheltered accommodation for older people to short-term emergency housing for those who have recently become homeless or are fleeing domestic abuse.
“The Government is right to consider alternative funding for emergency accommodation and we urge Ministers to also recognise the unique challenges of refuges with a distinct funding model.”
Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England & Wales, said: “As an organisation that has been delivering supported housing to individuals and families for decades, YMCA England & Wales welcomes the Work and Pensions Committee and the Local Government Committee’s report today.
“The Committees are right to recommend that plans to base rent on current Local Housing Allowance rates should be reconsidered.
“YMCA England & Wales has consistently said that providing safe and secure supported housing is not something that can be delivered under such challenging funding arrangements.
“As providers of supported housing to more than 18,000 vulnerable and homeless people every year, YMCAs know the true cost of delivering such a service.
“The reality is that the current proposals risk fewer organisations providing even less supported housing. For those organisations that do, it is more than likely that those clients with less intensive needs, and thus requiring less costly support will be housed.
“The end result will leave even more vulnerable people without somewhere to stay.”