Yesterday at the National Housing Federation conference the DWP clarified what was seen as an ambiguity in the DWP Minister’s statement last week. A DWP policy wonk Darrell Smith confirming – in this disgracefully undemocratic bypassing of any scrutiny way – that the LHA maxima cap policy will apply to ALL EXISTING vulnerable tenants in supported housing.
It means supported housing / supported living services for everyone with a learning, mental, physical and sensory disability (and for any other vulnerability you can think of) has their now right to have such supported housing funded by housing benefit taken away.
They will have to beg the parish for mercy in essence for the huge cut in their entitlement which if not granted will see their service close and vulnerable disabled tenants will lose the roof over their heads.
What was stated was reported in Inside Housing today:
Darrell Smith, housing policy manager the DWP, told an audience at the National Housing Federation’s annual conference in Birmingham today: “For all supported housing residents from April 2019, [the cap] will apply to everybody…
“That’s not what the chancellor announced in the Autumn Statement, that was around tenancy start dates. But the plan for supported housing is that it applies to everybody in there and the reasoning around that is that it would be too complicated to run two systems at the same time.”
I first saw this at 4pm yesterday when it was tweeted and I quickly asked if anyone had video, audio or text of this. I saw that confirmation this morning. Since 4.01pm yesterday my blood has been boiling and I’ve drafted this blog 20 times over yet each draft included the words fuck and shit at least 20 times!
- Do not be under any illusions whatsoever that this is not the death of what we call supported housing or supported living as it is and without any shadow of a doubt.
- Do not be under any illusion that this policy will not kill more disabled and vulnerable persons as it will.
- Do not be under any illusion that this policy will not cost so much more in added health and social care costs, as it will.
- Don not be under any illusion that the DWP know what they are doing as they don’t have a fucking clue!
I promise that is the last use of the “f” word and it is use is 100 per cent necessary.
Background and ambiguity?
If you have read any of my posts before on the LHA Maxima cap policy you will know they have all focused upon hostel and refuge, that is very short-term services in which residents tend to stay for around 3 months.
That focus was because the previous position was the LHA maxima cap (swingeing cuts) was perceived to apply only to new residents from April 2017 and only applied from April 2018 as the implementation day. As such everyone in a hostel or refuge in April 2018 would have entered that services after April 2017 and been hit with the cut.
It also meant that medium term and long term supported housing residents would NOT be affected on implementation day as they were likely to have entered the service well before April 2017. This is because the average length of stay in say a small group home for 3 or 4 adults with learning disability (ALD) can be in excess of ten years and the same goes for all disability services in supported housing.
Yet now those EXISTING and extremely vulnerable disabled persons will ALL be hit with massive cuts to their housing benefit on implementation day (or is that Doomsday?) of Monday 1 April 2019.
I have advised, worked in and with, developed, and arranged funding for scores of such services and the vast majority of them are single person services and so from April 2019 will have their levels of housing benefit reduced to the average 1 bed LHA rate of £111 per week.
Yet their rent levels can easily be in excess of £300 per week and much higher – and note well that this example £300 per week figure is about 20% – 50% of the only alternative which is registered care.
We are talking swingeing levels of cuts to their housing benefit which today and for the past 30 years and up and until midnight on Sunday 31 March 2019 they have a legal right to receive.
The last time 1 April was a Monday was 2013 and the bedroom tax began!
In that example we see a £200 per week cut in Housing Benefit leaving the disabled resident with £100 per week in HB to pay a rent of £300 per week. This £200 per week would have to be competed for from a locally held pot of money along with every other vulnerable person and the right to having a secure home suitable for your disabled housing need has gone.
You have to beg the parish for this £200 per week shortfall and the system is pre-Dickensian in that regard not just Dickensian. Many disability services will get that money yet some will not. Many other equally vulnerable supported housing services will get that swingeing cut, yet some will not.
What this means, and inevitably so, is that no new supported housing can ever be developed as its revenue funding (the HB and begging the parish) is a massive risk too far.
That holds many more subtleties than you may imagine. The need for supported housing or at least the perceived and known need very closely mirrors available provision. In simple terms if a new mental health provision for one-eyed Scotsmen who can whistle Dixie while standing on their head is opened you find that more demand for that service becomes known.
A deliberately contrived example yet the same goes for a service for D/deaf or Deafblind or Alzheimers or Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) or any one of hundreds of vulnerabilities from the most well known to the least known.
It also means that the more specialised services such as ABI tend to attract new residents and new demand from a wider geographical area and traditionally has seen regional joint working to develop a specialised service in say Manchester that is jointly funded and used by residents in Manchester City Council are and the other 9 local authorities that comprise Greater Manchester. The same goes for hub cities like Birmingham to the wider West Midlands or Liverpool to the wider Merseyside.
These key specialised services will probably be the first to disappear due to the complexity of joint funding (and many are not co-terminous with CCG and other areas) and some real dangers emerge from their more likely closure in the transfer of much higher added costs closure brings to NHS, social services and criminal justice services. But hey at least the DWP will say the HB bill has fallen!!!
I detailed what ‘commissioning’ has meant in the past and will mean again in the future here (it doesn’t work in practice despite the theory) and this just got 100 times worse with this announcement as it sees the failure of it will become apparent much quicker and from day 1.
April Fool’s Day 2019 becomes Doomsday for supported housing and for anyone and everyone with any form of disability or vulnerability that now is covered by a legal entitlement under Housing Benefit.
This is shit hitting the fan times 1000 and the DWP is dangerously flipping incompetent.
The reason I started blogging 5 years ago in the late summer of 2011 was that the Tory-led government then proposed this LHA maxima cap policy in a consultation paper in July 2011. The same personnel at the DWP then are there now and Lord Freud is an example and so this current government knew the impacts such a policy would have as far back as October 2011 or 5 years ago.
Those responses from the supported housing sector led to the DWP dropping the policy like a hot potato and not even publishing a consultation response. The proposal then was a pig’s earhole as it is today and yet today’s version of it is actually even worse than the original pig’s earhole from July 2011.
Fact, inevitable consequence, greater cost, not achieving its stated aims, rhyme reason or rationale or any other such argument clearly does not work with the buffoons at the DWP and their ideologically driven ministers.
This policy also means that pensioners will face eviction because their warden controlled services and extra care services, which are supported housing, may well not be funded too … just throw that one into the mix just in case I needed to reinforce the view that the Tories don’t have a Scooby Doo when it comes to policy!
The Jeremy Clarkson solution of putting them to the firing squad outside of their houses and in front of their families appears to be the only solution left!
First they came for the …