Liverpool will soon have no hostels or shelter for those who are homeless because of Government policy first mentioned in the Autumn Statement in November 2015.
Liverpool will soon have no refuges as they too will close as will sheltered housing yet here I concentrate on single homeless hostels as I detail actual figures from homeless services which prove that all existing provision will close and can never re-open and note well the same will happen nationally in every town and city as figures elsewhere will be and are similar.
Liverpool homeless hostels HB figures are in the public domain and the Conservative’s new policy will see the amount of housing benefit fall from £5 million per year to £2 million per year – A £3 million and 60% cut in housing benefit funding which means absolute closure of homeless provision.
What is the LHA maxima policy
The policy is the social rented tenant can receive no more in housing benefit than the private rented tenant.
YET all homelessness services are run by the social sector (social landlords and/or charities) as the HB regulations exclude the private sector from accessing the necessary higher levels of HB needed to run homeless services.
NOTE this policy applies to all supported housing services such as domestic violence and abuse refuges and supported housing for all vulnerable client groups (mental health, learning, physical, sensory disabilities, etc) and also to sheltered housing for older persons.
BECAUSE this revenue funding (HB) will not be available it also means that even if capital funding was available to build new supported housing services then new build would not happen as the revenue funding of the higher levels of housing benefit means these services are not financially viable.
In short, once such service provision is gone, it is gone for good!
[Maybe bowler hats capture rainwater so those homeless can have water?]
The Liverpool Homeless figures – the absolute proof!
Liverpool has a gateway service called Mainstay which means a homeless person approaches one hostel and that service can check which hostels have space for the person. A central real time database in simple terms.
The Mainstay service also has a directory (pdf) which states for each service how many bedspaces the service has, what client group the service is for, and how much each service gets per bedspace in housing benefit. In short this is the detailed proof of what will happen as the detailed figures are all there and below is an extract for a 26 bed homeless service for women only who are 16 – 25 years of age.
The £148.11 per person per week HB will fall to just £57.77 pppw – a cut in housing benefit of £90.34 pppw as the £57.77 pw figure is the maximum amount of housing benefit all the women can receive under the LHA maxima policy.
Over a year this is a reduction to the hostel provider of £122,475 which makes the service non financially viable and it will inevitably close.
Other homeless services in Liverpool have much higher HB levels and some take those 35 and over who will get £90.90 per week in HB rather than the £57.77 that the under 35s will get as the maximum amount under this LHA maxima policy.
I have worked in single homeless hostels, managed them, managed the managers of them, got their HB and other funding for them and advised them for over 20 years. Extrapolating all that experience and using cautious figures of what percentage of homeless persons are 35 and over the HB cut for all the services detailed in the Liverpool Mainstay directory sees a £3 million per year cut just for single homeless provision in Liverpool all directly due to the LHA maxima policy
In short, all services for single homeless persons will close and this will happen in every town and city not just in Liverpool.
The directory does not cover other homeless provision in my home city too and they will also face massive HB funding cuts making for example the No Second Night Out services run by Whitechapel non financially viable too. So just when this Government policy directly creates a massive increase in rough sleeping, the rough sleeping policy of NSNO will also cease due to not being financially viable!
Further LHA Maxima policy nonsense
The Conservative Government also say and have confirmed in parliamentary written answers that the amount of housing benefit currently paid over the LHA maxima (the £90.34 pppw for the womens homeless service above) should be met by Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) by the local council. This is cloud cuckoo land nonsense and cannot happen as I now explain.
Liverpool City Council currently gets £1.75 million per year in DHP funding which may increase to around £2.1 million in 2018 (statistically extrapolated) yet just for single homeless services we see a minimum £3 million per year cut. Then we have the HB cuts under the LHA maxima policy for DV and all other supported housing services and then for sheltered housing services competing for the £2.1 million DHP funding pot.
I detailed here that a typical 1 bed sheltered flat in Liverpool attracts weekly HB payment of around £140 pw and the 1 bed LHA maxima is £90.90 per week or a cut of £50 per week to every sheltered housing property in the city. I have no actual number of sheltered properties affected but a low estimate would be 4,000 (10% of social housing HB claimants in Liverpool) which gives a £10.5 million HB cut and a £10.5 million per year additional demand on the DHP budget of Liverpool City Council.
This same DHP pot will also need to be used for the current £6.78 million HB cut in bedroom tax (8.791 households @ £14.79 pw average) and by 2018 for circa £10 – £12 million HB cut under the reduced overall benefit cap as well.
Thus, Liverpool City Council receives £2.1 million in DHP and demand on that £2.1 million budget will be at least £30 million and could be over £40 million pa:
- £3m for single homeless services (LHA maxima)
- £6.78m for bedroom tax
- £10m for benefit cap? (probably more too)
- £10m for sheltered housing (LHA maxima)
- £ ? m for all other supported housing provision incl refuges
There is and there can be no doubt that single homeless hostels and all other short stay (< 2 years) supported housing that includes DV refuges will HAVE TO CLOSE due to this LHA maxima policy. They are non-financially viable in revenue funding to operate.
This policy was first stated in November by Chancellor Osborne in his Autumn Statement and in December the DWP confrimed by way of parliamentary written answers that the LHA maxima policy will apply for supported housing and sheltered housing and further confirmed that it will be left to local councils to fund any HB funding over the LHA maxima by way of DHP.
All this confirmation can be seen in my post here and this is no conjecture, this is exactly the policy intent of the Conservative Government.
What is more, this policy is to be introduced without any parliamentary scrutiny or debate as the LHA maxima policy is not part of any Bill and it can be introduced – with these devastaing impacts – whenever the Government wants by way of secondary legislation in a statutory instrument. This is despotic madness.
Having worked in supported housing and with over 20 years experience of the many ways such services can be funded I have racked my brain to see if there is any known model for single homeless services that can be viable with the LHA maxima policy. There isn’t one and believe me I have computed every variant that I know and can imagine (housing first models, core and cluster, dispersed, floating support, shared provision and all others) and it all comes down to a simple equation of….
…if the LHA maxima policy happens then ALL single homeless provision will close.
To the reader who is not aware of the huge complexities of funding supported housing provision and who will be aghast that some single homeless hostels charge and receive £300 or more per week in housing benefit let me say this:
To get these levels of HB every item of estimated and actual expenditure is scrutinised ad infinitum and on a line by line basis and all actual and projected costs of running any such service have to be reasonable, realistic and justifiable.
Put another way, if any hostel provider or DV refuge provider or sheltered housing provider is able to claim these higher levels of housing benefit you can bet your life every single aspect of them has been scrutinised to death and are 100% necessary to run those services else they would not be in payment.
Some impacts of the LHA maxima policy
You will be tripping over people on the street such will be the increase in visibility of street homeless persons
The additional costs to the police of dealing with this; the additional cost to the NHS of treatment, of bed-blocking, of security and so much more; to the local taxpayer the increased costs of council tax and removal of public services will be huge; to the prison service who can no longer discharge ex-offenders or even mentally disordered offenders because there is nowhere for them to go mean tax payer costs of prolonged £1000 per week jail costs and so many more billions in new jails needing to be built…costs which all fall on the tax payer.
To women who will not be able to flee domestic violence and abuse because there is nowhere to flee to. So many more women will die due to domestic violence and abuse, as will more men too. That is not hyperbole or scaremongering it is cols hard fact.
To those in the supported living model with learning, physical and sensory disabilities and to those with mental health needs you will only have registered care provision at £700 to £2000 per week cost to the taxpayer and no other choice except this hugely disempowering one – and yes that means personal budgets and all other social care initiatives are out the window too.
To those who are slightly infirm due to age you can no longer afford sheltered housing which houses those 50+ and so you will have a much greater chance of dying when you fall at home.
It will also mean that social service budgets will dramatically increase too s providers decide to close provision of acommodation with care – known as the supported living model and one variant of supported housing – before the LHA maxima policy takes effect and leave Liverpool and all other councils with hugely increased costs of their mandatory duties they have.
A recent article in the Guardian said Liverpool City Council is planning to cut care cases from 15,000 down to 9,000 in order to balance the books and to stop Liverpool going bankrupt as a result of the 58% funding cuts it has had from Government; yet the LHA maxima policy will see a huge increase in care cases for the council so Mayor Joe Anderson needs to rethink that one as it cannot happen because of the LHA maxima policy. It says:
When Anderson became leader of the authority in 2010, two years before he became mayor, it was spending £222m a year on adult social care services. Today, it spends £172m. By 2017, it will be £150m – a further cut that, he says, will mean reducing the number of people receiving care packages from 15,000 now to 9,000.
That goes for every town and city local council of course not just Liverpool and the madness of the LHA maxima policy begins to be realised. That proposed £72 million per saving in Liverpool (from £222k to £150k) has gone and it will be more than the £222k it was in 2010, far more in fact! Just one additional cost consequence of the LHA maxima policy.
Many charities run supported housing services and they will go bust because of this, some small local ones (as the majority of womens aids are) as well as large nationally known names too.
Many small housing associations and large ones may also go bust due to this LHA maxima policy too and they are critically exposed financially and their stock will be too difficult and too costly to reprovision into general needs housing and they and I know who they are. I know of one small housing association that specialises in supported provision who will lose over 70% of their total yearly income and inevitably fold leaving its council to deal with many hundreds of vulnerable people most of whom it will have mandatory duties toward.
I have advised over 200 supported housing providers over the past 15 years right across the country and know their business and their HB incomes and many of them will close and they will give their respected local councils a huge increase in social care funding which is money they simply do not have and cannot find and so many very vulnerable people will simply be cast aside as not being central government’s responsibility and they will blame local governments when such services inevitably close which they ALL will do eventually.
The LHA maxima policy kills off supported housing, the supported living model, sheltered housing – the entire ‘supported’ sector – and that includes the now ‘sexy’ (and hugely costly) extra care model of sheltered and the previously thought ‘sexy’ foyers and all previous sexy fads that housing has had over the past few decades, as well as the mainstream provision of homeless and domestic violence hostels.
It will also kill off No Second Night Out, Personal and Individual Budget policies and all Learning Difficulty and Mental Health and othe strategies and that includes the new coercive control strategy for omestic violence and abuse tht is all over the media today.
What’s the point of having coercive control legislation or even a Violence Against Women and Girls policy unit at the Home Office if those survivors affected by it have nowhere to fucking go as all refuge provision will close!!!
I’ll choose to leave it there as the general public sees DV as a deserving cause when it often sees single homeless provision as undeserving and one created by lifestyle choices, which is frankly bullshit.
Numbers don’t lie, only Governments do, and the numbers here prove beyond any doubt that all forms of supported housing services will inevitably close!