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01 March 2016

LHA cap for Supported Housing postponed by 1 year

The Department for Work and Pensions has today announced a one year exception to the Local Housing Allowance cap for supported accommodation in the social housing sector. The announcement, made by the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP means that the change will now apply to tenancies in supported accommodation signed from April 2017.

Further guidance will be issued by the DWP shortly, but the statement highlighted refuges for those fleeing domestic abuse, homeless provision, housing for ex-offenders and supported housing for older people and disabled people as examples of accommodation subject to the exception. Community Land Trusts, housing co-operatives and alms houses will also be given a one year exception.

Community Housing Cymru welcomes today’s announcement which follows several months of lobbying from the housing sector, along with continued dialogue with the DWP, but we remain concerned about the implications of the policy.

The one year pause in applying the cap to supported accommodation gives DWP the opportunity to continue their strategic review of supported housing through Ipsos MORI, but it does not offer certainty to tenants or social housing providers over the future of supported housing. CHC will continue to provide support to members involved in the review, and we will work with the DWP to ensure that it captures the full picture of what is offered by supported accommodation and that the needs of the devolved nations are captured in any UK-wide policy.

Our recent survey of Welsh housing associations found that the rent for 57% of supported accommodation is over the current LHA rate, and we are clear that the UK Government’s offer of a slight increase in DHP is inadequate. Figures from the survey show that the total DHP required to mitigate the cap’s impact for supported accommodation will reach an unsustainable £21.3m per year.

The Local Housing Allowance cap will still apply to all other new tenancies signed from April 2016, with any cut to housing benefit applicable from April 2018, and CHC’s priority will now be to ascertain the exact details of this policy which are still unclear. We estimate that around 10,000 claimants will be affected in April 2018, and it is imperative that tenants and landlords entering into a tenancy from this April have clarity and certainty about these changes.

You can read the full link to the statement here.