92% of sheltered housing in Merseyside is unaffordable due to the Tories sheltered housing benefit tax and pensioners will have to find up to £77.74 per week from their state pension just to pay the rent.
The Conservatives have introduced the LHA maxima cap policy which means no social tenant can receive more in Housing Benefit than a private tenant receives in LHA, the private sector version of housing benefit.
As a consequence, of the current 60 sheltered housing properties across Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral that are available to let 55 out of 60 properties or 92% of them, will see Housing Benefit NOT cover the rent.
Sheltered housing is unaffordable.
Below is part of the table for all 60 currently available sheltered housing properties across the Liverpool City Region which show how much the sheltered tenant will have to pay from their pensions just to keep a roof over their heads:
As you can see the sheltered tenant including the pensioner would have to find up to £77.74 per week from their pension just to pay the rent.
The above is the top ten worst cases and the average shortfall or HB pensioner tax for these 60 currently available properties is £34.46 per week.
The average bedroom tax across the same 6 councils in the Liverpool City Region (Merseyside plus Halton) is £15.49 per week by comparison.
The Tory HB Pensioner Tax is more than twice as bad as the bedroom tax.
Below is the bottom 20 or least affected by the Tories HB Pensioner Tax which shows just 5 of the 60 available sheltered housing properties in the region, or just 8% of them will have their rent met by Housing Benefit.
The LHA maxima policy WILL mean that all sheltered housing will have to close across Merseyside (and all DV refuges and other supported housing will too) and the figures above which are actual figures from actual live examples shows without any ambiguity what the policy means.
It took me no more than an hour to do this research.
That is significant because the Conservatives have said they do not know the impacts of the LHA maxima policy and despite engaging consultants who have been working on this specific issue for the best part of 18 months.
It took me an hour to say precisely what it will mean!
It is not hyperbole or any form of exaggeration to say that sheltered housing will close right across the country because of the LHA maxima cap – with the exception of London and a few other high LHA areas in the South East.
In over 80% of the UK ALL sheltered housing scheme will close as they are not financially available due to this LHA maxima policy.
It took me an hour to say precisely what it will mean which also means the Conservative government are lying!
It really does get so much worse than that as the LHA maxima cap policy was first proposed by the same Tory personnel at DWP in July 2011 and 5 years ago in a consultation paper that they quickly buried.
It took me an hour to say precisely what it will mean yet the Conservatives claim they do not know the impact despite having 5 years to work out what took me 60 minutes to illustrate precisely.
The policy starts in 2018, coincidentally the same year that I will be 55 which is the typical lower age range for sheltered housing and it applies to those who began their tenancy after April 2017.
Don’t be fooled by the errant deduction that this only affects new sheltered tenants as this is a fallacy and also the wrong way to view it.
Firstly, if one member of a current couple living there should die after April 2017 then the former joint tenancy becomes a sole tenancy and, critically, a NEW tenancy so they too will be affected by this.
Secondly, and more importantly, the average ‘churn’ or turnover of new tenants in sheltered housing ranges from 10% – 18% per year.
By the time this begins in April 2018 it will affect 20% to 36% to reflect new tenants in 2017/18 and in 2018/19.
By 2019/2020 it will affect 30% to 54% of sheltered tenants and means very simply that ALL sheltered housing provision will close by the next scheduled general election in May 2020.
Thirdly, as a direct consequence, the closure of sheltered housing means that local councils will incur huge additional costs as tenants who would have entered sheltered housing will now need care provision which councils will have to fund.
We already have a crisis in adult social care and this will make that significantly worse…
Similarly, it means that hospitals will be bed-blocked to the hilt as there will be nowhere for the NHS to discharge older person to as sheltered housing ceases to exist.
We already have a crisis in the NHS and the LHA maxima policy will make it hugely worse …
In short this LHA maxima policy is going to cost the country so much more in ‘welfare’ costs in all its forms and hugely more too – figures which were extrapolated by the Audit Commission way back in 2005/06 when they did a national cost benefit analysis of supported housing and again figures which this Conservative government knows and knows well.
The figures – which again I remind took me only one hour to do and are actual figures based on actual cases – are a Godsend to those who wish to oppose the LHA maxima policy and/or oppose government as the political sensitivities surrounding pensioners are huge and a point I need not elaborate upon.
Yet the social landlords who provide sheltered housing are apathetic and weak when it comes to stating the facts of the above, facts that took one hour to research and illustrate.
Also where is the political opposition to the LHA maxima policy and from ALL opposition parties not just the Labour Party?
Further, where is the opposition to the impact on the pensioner and other older persons from the scores of older person lobbies such as Age (Concern) and the rest, and from the media in general who all pander to the grey vote and the grey pound? Why isn’t the WI organising a grey march down Whitehall over this?!
This took one hour …
Figures taken 22 July 2016 from the choice based lettings portal for Merseyside that anyone can access here
11 thoughts on “The Tory sheltered housing benefit tax”
Most of us were unaware of the impact of this legislation, it must be a nightmare for anyone in need of sheltered housing.
I’ll be on the streets by the end of the year then as I live in Sheltered Housing with a Tory dominated forever County Council who hates the elderly, the sick and the disabled, hates most mothers particularly unmarried mothers and all of their children, all immigrants and all who are on benefits, but if you happen to fall into the first three categories which I do, then I’m f****d completely!
We’ve experienced changes here in the last few months like not receiving daily visits to ensure we made it through the night, we now have to test our own alarm systems, ok so not a big deal but some of the old dears here haven’t a clue and cannot think for themselves, and what visits there are are now the responsibility of an another Housing Association and if they don’t make a profit then the County Council take over and then we will all be in danger of the glue factory!
What has gone so wrong with this country? As we worked our whole lives for what? A pension that is treated as a benefit, an NHS being starved of funds making it ripe for the complete privatisation of the service that I was born under but may not die under? 40 years of Tory rule and I include the Bliarite administrations as well have brought us to this, if there ain’t a profit in it kill it!
Joe, you say anyone who signs a tenancy after April 2017, shouldn’t that be 2016. I have just signed a new tenancy this April, and was told by DWP that my HB would be assessed according to LHA.
Originally it was after April 2016 yet the government deferred this for a year to April 2017.
On 1 March 2016 Lord Freud said this in House of Lords and Justin Tomlinson repeated in House of Commons:
“In the Autumn Statement 2015, we announced that when assessing eligibility for Housing Benefit and Universal Credit that Local Housing Allowance rates would be applied to all social rents from April 2018, where tenants had signed new or re-let tenancies from 1 April 2016.
I am able to announce today that the Government will put in place a year-long exception for all tenants of supported accommodation in the social sector so that this measure will only apply to these tenancies from April 2017, rather than April 2016. As examples, this will include refuges for those fleeing domestic abuse, homeless provision, housing for ex-offenders, as well as supported housing for older and disabled people. I can also confirm that the one year exception will extend to housing co-operatives, alms houses and Community Land Trusts.”