GLH believes the proposals in the Consultation Paper would remove important rights from vulnerable groups of people. Instead of having their reasonable housing costs met as of right through the benefits system, people in supported housing will have to rely on the discretion of the Local Authority to provide top ups from a cash-limited pot, which may or may not be made depending on the priorities of the Authority and the amount of money in the pot. It unfairly discriminates against people with support needs by putting them in a less favourable position to those without, who will continue to have their reasonable housing costs met as an entitlement through housing benefit/universal credit.
It is GLH’s experience that the proposals have created fear and anxiety for existing tenants and their families. Rents for most GLH tenants are above the level of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA), so those tenants don’t know whether they will be able to afford and continue to live in their home after April 2019.
GLH like many other providers has had to put plans on hold for the development and adaptation of new housing for people with a learning disability. We were going to raise substantial funds from private and social investment following our successful recent bond issues. But we have had to suspend this because there is now no certainty that the revenue stream will be available, so desperately needed homes are not being developed or adapted.
Amongst other things, this is further delaying the implementation of the Transforming Care agenda, which means that over 3,000 people in England continue to languish in hospital settings not because they need to be in hospital but because suitable community based housing is not available to them.
GLH believes the proposals would undermine the ability of people with a learning disability to live independently with support, and their ability to exercise choice about where they live and with whom.
GLH believes the proposals should be changed to allow for certainty for providers and funders so that much needed new housing can be created, and to provide for peace of mind for existing tenants and their families.
The existing protection for Specialised Supported Housing (SSH) should remain so that the relatively small number of people in this category, who tend to have the highest and/or most complex needs, can continue to enjoy the certainty of entitlement to their reasonable housing costs being met.