Housing associations and charities have warned that welfare reform could force the closure of 82,000 shelters for Britain’s most vulnerable people, including domestic violence victims, veterans and people with mental illness.
A cap on local housing allowance (LHA) – which will bring housing benefit for social housing tenants in line with the private sector – was announced by chancellor George Osborne in November’s Spending Review.
Huge numbers of people will be affected
This could leave vulnerable people are at risk of losing out in their weekly benefits, according to the National Housing Federation. More than 50,000 households could lose an average of £68 per week each, the NHF said – which could cause 41% of specialist housing to close its doors.
With the backing of Age UK, Mencap and Women’s Aid, the NHF – which represents English housing associations – is calling on the government to confirm that these changes will apply only to people that don’t need extra support.
“We are urgently seeking clarity from Government,” said David Orr, chief executive of the NHF. “If this cap applies to specialist housing, tens of thousands of vulnerable people will be unable to afford the cost of their home and care.
“Huge numbers of people will be affected, from older people and dementia patients, to disabled people and women fleeing domestic violence – they cannot go without specialist care and support.”
Andrew Redfern, chief executive of Nottinghamshire-based specialist housing association Framework, told Inside Housing magazine: “It would mean the end of supported housing. All our schemes would close, and I think all others would as well.”
A DWP spokesman said: “This is unnecessary scaremongering, which does nothing to help those it purports to represent. The truth is that nothing will change until 2018.”