Thank you for contacting me about supported housing.
I completely agree with you that for many vulnerable people supported accommodation plays a vital role. I can assure you that the Government is committed to building a secure long-term funding framework for the sector, and encouraging further development in the sector.
The changes to Housing Benefit announced in the 2015 Autumn Statement involved aligning the rules for claimants in the social sector with those for claimants renting privately. Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules, which limit the amount of rent which Housing Benefit will cover, would be extended to the social sector.
However the Government recognises the importance of ensuring that those who are providing supported accommodation to some of the most vulnerable members of our society receive appropriate protections. That is why Government departments have been engaging closely with providers to better understand the issues faced by the supported housing sector, a sector which comprises an extremely wide variety of housing types.
I am very pleased that, as a result of these discussions, the Government has decided to delay the implementation of the LHA cap for all social housing to 2019. From 2019 the LHA rules for Housing Benefit will apply to social sector housing, including supported housing. However, for supported housing this will not include the Shared Accommodation Rate. This is in recognition of the particular challenges this would have placed on tenants. To reflect the higher average costs of offering supported accommodation, which may exceed the level of Local Housing Allowance, the Government will devolve 'top up' funding to local authorities (and to the devolved administrations in Wales and Scotland). This will give local authorities an enhanced role in commissioning supported housing, and allow them to take a more coherent approach to planning for housing needs in their area.
I also welcome the fact that the one per cent yearly reduction in social sector rents which the Government announced in the 2015 Summer Budget will not apply to supported housing for one year. In cases where providers do not have the capacity to offset the decrease through efficiencies or other adjustments they may continue to be exempted and some specialist types of supported accommodation will be exempt from the rent reduction for the full four years of its duration.
The Government has launched a consultation on developing the details of this new funding model for the supported housing sector. I really appreciate the considered approach the Government has taken on this issue, and hope that providers will continue to engage with the Government to ensure the new model is effective and appropriate. Councillor John Levantis, the Portfolio Holder for Housing Delivery at Mid Suffolk District Council, has welcomed the opportunity to review the housing stock. He recently stated that the review had given the Council the opportunity to focus support where it is needed and to ensure that the correct type of housing is available.
Thank you again for contacting me and please do not hesitate to get in touch on this or any other issue you feel I might be able to assist with.