Margaret Greenwood MP welcomes government u-turn on supported housing but warns that devil is in the detail

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26 Oct 2017

Margaret Greenwood MP has given a cautious welcome to the Prime Minister’s announcement of a government u-turn on plans to cut funding for supported housing.

Labour, voluntary organisations and housing associations have all been very strongly opposing the government’s proposals to cap local housing allowance for tenants of supported housing such as sheltered accommodation for the elderly.

A cap on local housing allowance for these tenants would have left many people with a shortfall in their rent because rents for supported housing are necessarily higher to cover the extra costs involved such as staffing.

The main provider of supported housing in Wirral is Magenta Housing which has 556 supported housing units in Wirral West and 1,676 units in Wirral as a whole. Liverpool Housing Trust also has 4 supported housing units in Wirral West.

Wirral Methodist Housing Association also provide supported accommodation, including sheltered housing, housing for people with disabilities and victims of domestic violence.

Last month Margaret Greenwood MP met with the Chief Executive of Riverside Housing, a major provider of supported housing on Merseyside, to discuss the sector’s concerns about the government’s proposals.

Margaret Greenwood MP said:

“Earlier this year I visited Lee Court in Hoylake which is run by Wirral Methodist Housing Association. There are 11 apartment blocks providing independent living space for young people with a range of physical and learning disabilities.

“I was given a tour of the facilities, including inside some of the residents’ apartments, and was very impressed by what I saw.

“The whole point of supported housing is that it offers a safe and secure home in which people who are vulnerable can still live independently.

“It inevitably costs more because the rent has to cover support from staff as well as accommodation.

“The government’s plans to cap local housing allowance have left tenants uncertain about their future and caused housing associations to put future building plans on hold.

“The Prime Minister’s announcement of a u-turn was welcome but we must now wait for the full details to be released next Tuesday (31st October).

“According to the National Housing Federation there are already 17,000 fewer supported housing units than needed, which is likely to double to over 35,000 places by 2020/21.

“Lack of supply will simply involve extra costs elsewhere through for example adaptations to domestic housing for elderly or disabled people.

“I am especially concerned that funding for victims of domestic abuse in refuges should be put on a secure, long-term footing.

“There is concern that Universal Credit is not an appropriate way to provide help with the cost of housing in a refuge for victims of domestic abuse.

“Many victims of domestic abuse may spend relatively short periods in a refuge and Universal Credit involves at least a six week wait for the initial payment to be made in full.

“Supported housing provides homes for some of the most vulnerable people in society, the elderly and disabled, victims of domestic abuse, people with learning disabilities and people who were previously homeless for whom the security of their home is especially important.

“The government’s proposals left a huge question mark over the future of the supported housing sector. I want to see the government remove that uncertainty altogether next Tuesday.”