Monday, 23 October 2017

Raising the Cap

Around six months ago, following an investigation, a joint all-party Communities and Local Government Committee (which I chair) and Work and Pensions Committee report made some important recommendations to the government about what it needed to do to find a long-term, sustainable funding mechanism that ensures quality, provides value for money, and which protects and boosts the supply of supported housing.
More than 700,000 people in the UK benefit from the support and supervision provided within the supported housing sector. The vast majority of provision is sheltered accommodation for older people, but this sector also includes housing for people with learning and physical disabilities, individuals at risk of homelessness, refuges for women and children at risk of domestic violence, and many other client groups.
In 2016, the Government had announced proposals, for a new funding model for supported housing, to come into effect in 2019. Our investigation concluded that the government’s proposals were unlikely to achieve these objectives. That’s why we made some clear recommendations about what the government should do.
In fact, the government’s plans have caused an outcry, with social housing providers asserting that the system would be bureaucratic and  unworkable ,and would put elderly and disabled people uncertain about whether they could afford to remain in their homes. It would be like another phase of Bedroom Tax.
Charities which work with and support elderly and disabled people have also waded into the debate. Caroline Abrahams, a director of Age UK, said: “The consequences for older people of pressing ahead would have been disastrous…”
As important for the long-term, the financial impact of the proposals would lead to a massive cut in the building of new supported accommodation and make many existing sheltered accommodation schemes and hostels unviable. The chaos caused by the plans has already halted 85% of planned new supported housing schemes.

The communities secretary, Sajid Javid, told me recently that our report had been “very helpful”. This week, there is a Parliamentary debate about the issues. So, this will be the opportunity to show that he listened and is going to act.