Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
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Supported Housing Review - good or bad news?

On 25th October the PM announced that the LHA Cap in social housing - due to start in 2018 - was being scrapped.

The proposed LHA Cap would have seen many tenants living in supported housing having the amount of HB or UC Housing Costs Element limited to LHA rates, with them having to apply to their LA for help with any shortfall from a discretionary pot. This led to a long campaign of lobbying against the proposal as it had left many housing providers uncertain about future funding and therefore reluctant to develop new schemes.

The governemnt have now announced that they want to get the funding model for supported housing right "so all providers of supported housing are able to access funding effectively". Their proposals (outlined in brief below) are out for consultation but are they any better than the LHA Cap?

The new proposal is to split supported housing into three distinct groups - with a different support scheme for each: Sheltered Housing, Long Term Supported Housing and Short Term Supported Housing.

The proposal for Sheltered Housing, is that it will continue to be funded by the welfare benefits system, but there will be a cap of the help available based on a 'formula rent' above which help will not be available.

There is actually very little information in the consultation document as to how rents for Long Term Supported Housing, such as group houses for people with long term health issues, might be funded.

And for Short Term Supported Housing, such a mother and baby units, young people foyers, temporary housing, DV refuges; the proposal is that these will no longer be funded by the welfare benefits system ie no HB or UC HCE. Instead there will be a system of block grants administered by Local Authorities - but with no real indication yet as to what level those grants could be at.

For Short Term Supported Housing, therefore, support is moving away from a statutory entitlement system to one of discretionary (and presumably time limted) grants, which are likely to include the need for the Local Authority to ensure they are securing value for money.

So whilst the proposed LHA Cap has been abandoned - which is great news for those in general needs housing - the system of financial support for those living in supported housing still remains unclear and for some supported housing tenants could be worse.