The LHA maxima cap policy of the Conservatives will close all DV refuges, all single homeless hostels and much sheltered housing and much specialist supported housing for all other vulnerable persons.
Today the Labour Party had an Opposition Day debate on this LHA maxima policy and sought to have supported and sheltered housing exempted from it.
That attempt failed and the LHA maxima policy will go ahead so all refuges and all single homeless and other short-term hostel type provision will inevitably close.
John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne) (Lab):
I beg to move,
That this House believes that the Government’s planned cuts to housing benefit support for vulnerable people in specialist housing, including the elderly and people who are homeless, disabled or fleeing domestic violence, risk leading to the widespread closure of this accommodation; notes the concern from charities, housing associations, councils and others across the country about the severe effect of these cuts; further notes that supported housing has already suffered as a result of Government spending cuts and policy decisions; notes that the planned changes will apply to all new tenancies from April 2016; notes the clear evidence that the Government’s proposal to mitigate these cuts with discretionary housing payments will not work; and calls on the Government to urgently exempt supported housing from these housing benefit cuts and to consult fully with supported housing providers to safeguard this essential accommodation.
John Healey framed the issue well from the start:
In his November spending review, the Chancellor announced that:-
“housing benefit in the social sector will be capped at the relevant local housing allowance.”—[Official Report, 25 November 2015; Vol. 602, c. 1360.]
With one short, sweeping sentence, he put at risk almost all supported and sheltered housing for the frail elderly, the homeless, young adults leaving care, those suffering with dementia, people with mental illness or learning disabilities, veterans and women fleeing domestic violence. According to those who provide that type of housing, he condemns nearly all such housing schemes to closure.
Clearly the previous mute and noticeably mute and errant National Housing Federation have been busy the last 24 hours as John Healey said:
The National Housing Federation says that 156,000 homes—at least that number of people will be affected—are set to close.
Well blow me down with a feather. That would be the same NHF who were quoted yesterday in an article in the Guardian saying 50,000 would have £68 per week cuts and 82,000 COULD close?!
The Guardian article said:
According to the NHF, about 50,000 households could be affected over the course of a year, losing an average of £68 each. It estimates 82,000 homes could be forced to close, equivalent to more than four in 10 of all supported housing in England.
As I have maintained from 15 December 2015 when this policy was confirmed this will close ALL refuges and ALL single homeless hostels and much other supported and sheltered housing. Yesterday I tore a strip off the Guardian article and said this 50,000 figure an 82,000 figure was a pile of baloney and was much much higher.
Then surprise, surprise the NHF double that figure overnight to 156,000 as quoted by John Healey which is still too LOW a figure by the way but at least moving in the right direction!
But enough of me saying I have been right all along and that the NHF in particular want two rockets up their lazy-arsed backsides over this issue which WILL CLOSE ALL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE REFUGES AND ALL SINGLE HOMELESS HOSTELS.
That latter point wasn’t helped by this little gem in the Hansard recording of this debate and the particularly odious little grunt called Justin Tomlinson a DWP junior minister who said this: –
We all accept that this issue goes far wider, and we must look at all that in the consultation.
My hon. Friend the Member for South Ribble (Seema Kennedy) asked me to take on board the comments from Progress Housing, and I will happily do so. The hon. Member for Cambridge (Daniel Zeichner) talked about the YMCA, which is an important organisation.
I am pleased that Denise Hatton, YMCA England’s chief executive, has already tweeted:
“It is positive that the Government has listened to the concerns of the sector and we welcome the fact it has taken appropriate action to protect supported housing.”
Oh Denise Hatton what an incompetent idiot your are as the detailed figures for the YMCA in Liverpool below prove you don’t have a clue what you are talking about as this service WILL CLOSE AS A MATTER OF INEVITABILITY.
Sing the song, do the dance, you just cant stay there as they’re all gonna close!
The YMCA Liverpool has 3 main services and they will lose £677,606 per year in housing benefit and they will close. Yes that is over two-thirds or a million pounds per year and you are congratulating the government.
Please advise how this in your own words is “…appropriate action to protect supported housing?”
The above are the 3 services with numbers in each and the last column is how much they now receive each week in housing benefit. Yet under the LHA maxima cap policy which you applaud Denise Hatton, they will lose £667k or so and will have to close as in Liverpool the SAR rate for those under 35 is £57.77 per week and the 1 bed LHA rate is £90.90 per week. Those maximum figures are one hell of a lot less than the £242, £182 and £175 per week they now receive aren’t they?
Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of the YMCA you should resign immediately
And just to prove that this is not just another case of a Tory MP making it up as he goes along here is your tweet:
I was going to keep quiet on how much individual services in Liverpool will lose as a result of this dog’s breakfast of a policy and indeed I did publish an anonymised table of it having jumbled up and blanked out each services name.
Yet now when the Chief Executive of a national organisation as large as the YMCA either supports this policy or is stupid enough to tweet something that could be taken out of context then he or she should resign.
To put what you tweeted into figures, the 1% rent cut not applying to the Liverpool YMCA would save just over £10,000 yet your tweet has been used to justify a cut of £667,606 per year and inevitable closure of YMCA Liverpool!
Such a careless error from you says to me you shouldn’t be working at all in the supported housing sector as you are not fit to do so and frankly you don’t deserve the privilege of working with vulnerable people at all.
Am I being angry here? Yes, very angry but professionally angry and rightfully angry as your incompetence and ineptitude and ignorance of a policy that will cause the inevitable death of ALL YMCA supported housing services right across the country – every single one of them not just Liverpool – is staggering!
Oh I see that YMCA has details of all its hostels online Denise Hatton and the next nearest is in Halton as below:
So lets all work out how much YMCA Halton is going to lose and assuming the 66 units are 22 Type A, 22 Type B and 22 Type C and ALL residents over 35 which is the lowest possible cut
- Type A – 22 rooms @ £203.28 becomes 22 rooms at £90.90 = £128,916 per year
- Type B – 22 rooms @ £181.47 becomes 22 rooms at £90.90 = £103,897 per year
- Type C – 22 rooms @ £198.41 becomes 22 rooms at £90.90 = £123,329 per year
That is a MINIMUM housing benefit cut of £356,142 per year.
If ALL the residents were under 35 they would only receive £57.57 each in housing benefit which gives a maximum cut of £167,150 for Type A plus a further £142,131 for Type B and a further £161,564 for Type C making £470,845 per year.
Halton YMCA will lose between £356,142 and £470,845 per year in housing benefit in Halton! So while the world and his wife and the wife’s dog and even the fleas on the wife’s dog can see this means Halton YMCA will have to close, the Chief Executive of the YMCA praises the Conservative government for…taken appropriate action to protect supported housing!
You seeing why I am just a tad professionally angry Denise Hatton?
When we see very large national names such as the YMCA not realising that government policy will kill off the YMCA you begin to realise just how ignorant the ‘housing’ world is and that is an unbelievably sad indictment on those who are in charge of the privilege of running this sector. Perhaps they even lessen my repeated criticisms of the National Housing Federation to some extent?
However, what anyone who has ever worked in homelessness services of any type will tell you is that you have an ’emotive window’ of about one month per year that covers two weeks before Christmas an two weeks after. That 4 week period is the only time that the general public tend to have concern for those unfortunate enough to find themselves homeless, and especially for single homeless persons.
IF housing lobbies and support lobbies had got their head out of their own backsides when I first revealed that the LHA maxima policy will close ALL hostels and close ALL refuges on the 15 December, there would have been little need for today’s 2 hour debate. The general public would have been up in arms over the festive period with particularly DV refuges and sheltered housing having to close and never reopen again which is the reality of this policy.
Yet housing lobbies dragged their feet with the possible exception of Placeshapers, the support lobbies saw Women’s Aid retweet and like an article yesterday that they though was the LHA maxima policy but wasn’t and they have been noticeable quiet on all DV refuges closing. Polly Neate has appeared on TV many times recently yet has never mentioned the LHa maxima cap policy that will close ALL refuges!
The YMCA as the above proves don’t realise the impact. Homeless Link has done some good work and a few individual housing associations such as Bromford and a couple of others although very belatedly. Where is the huge outcry from Shelter and Crisis and other homeless lobbies that all single homeless hostels will close? Barely a whimper!
It literally took me 3 minutes to cut and paste the YMCA figures and do the maths above so why has the Chief Executive of YMCA not been on TV or radio or in the national press saying this policy will close every YMCA in the country?
On a related issue go through the 65 pages of A4 that today’s Hansard debate records and you will see speech after speech saying Provider A has stopped £100 million of new development from the Labour benches and a whole host of chinless wonders on the Tory benches actually talking about anything BUT the LHA maxima policy and invariably saying its Labour fault for increasing housing benefit so much.
Tories have very convenient memories re housing benefit…
That is an old and simple graph which is self explanatory as to which political party let “housing benefit take the strain” and it takes ten seconds to also see that Major’s administration doubled the HB bill between 1991 and 1997.
Look again at Thatcher’s HB record. Thatcher who said right to buy was right and would reduce the HB bill as there would be fewer tenants to claim HB just as the Tories of today are saying now. Thatcher increased the HB bill over 6-fold despite selling off almost 2 million council houses and in her warped philosophy almost 2 million fewer HB claimants. It didn’t work then just as it won’t work now.
Yet the Conservative government speakers only talked of the ‘last lots’ HB record and not a sausage about their record or about the matter of the debate, that their HB policy that was taken with no knowledge of the impact and without any impact analysis and whom its current MPs believe that currently there is a consultation of the LHA maxima policy when there is not filibustered, prevaricated and talked about anything other than the inevitable closure of ALL hostels and ALL DV refuges and all extra care sheltered housing and much of other forms of sheltered housing this policy means.