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PlaceShapers response to the DCLG and DWP consultation sets proposals to help sustain and develop supported housing for elderly and vulnerable people.
It responds to the 12 consultation questions and calls on the Government to abandon the Local Housing Allowance link and replace it with a national Supported Housing Allowance that would level the geographical differences and better reflect the true costs of provision. Read the full response here.
PlaceShapers vice chair Angela Lockwood said: “We are pleased that the Government recognises the importance of the funding of supported housing. However, the funding regime proposed falls short of what is needed and puts at risk existing and future provision. We recognise the need for a national framework and would support a workable, simple system that delivers certainty, fair outcomes and value for money alongside statutory duties to provide for existing and future demand at the local level. Regrettably, a local top-up of housing benefit as proposed does not achieve this. The metric used to set the LHA cap does not take into account the specialist nature of supported housing and the costs of developing and maintaining our assets. It creates major risks to existing and future provision, significant inequalities for service users and additional complexities and resourcing issues that will constrain value for money.”
The response clarifies that supported housing costs are broadly similar around the country. Linking their rents to the LHA would create variable funding gaps for similar cost schemes (with a particular North v South divide), would result in discriminatory outcomes for existing residents as a result of a postcode lottery approach to top-up funding and would act as a deterrent to the planning of new schemes other than in high-value areas.
The PlaceShapers call to abandon the LHA says that, providing the SHA was set at an appropriate level, this would require only limited top-up for approved higher cost schemes. The alternative option would be for the Government to accept that supported housing rents are by their nature higher than those for general needs tenancies and to agree that funding via the benefits system is paid at source at a higher level than the LHA rate where needed, without need for top-up applications.
Angela Lockwood said: “We have welcomed the opportunity to engage with the NHF, our local authority partners and others as well as Government on the need for a secure funding framework for supported housing and many of our members individually are contributing to this work. For the purposes of this formal consultation, we brought together a number of our key practitioners to discuss the questions posed together with their implications and help produce a collective PlaceShapers response. In doing so will set out in more detail their views on the proposed new funding system in the context of local services.”
The response also stresses: