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To think most people don't know that the autumn statement means all homelessness hostels will be shut in the next 3 years?

(25 Posts)
lessonsintightropes Thu 26-Nov-15 23:55:43

In protecting the tax credit cuts, which was a sensible political decision and essentially nil result as the Universal Credit rules which come in in a few years will do the same job, the Tories have had to find something to fill a big hole. One of the ways this has paid out is a change in the housing benefit rules. I don't necessarily disagree that it should be easier for someone in a council house to live in central London than someone else who is private renting - both of whom who are probably fulfilling some essential rules like working as a nurse, child care worker or firefighter.

However, the changes made have had a massive unintended consequence in that this will mean all supported housing - including that for people with learning disabilities, long term mental health conditions and people who are homeless - will be defunded. The government's answer is that this will all be paid for from something called the Discretionary Housing Pot. This is normally empty within the first two months of the year by paying for things like old people whose rents are too high and moving them to a care home would likely kill them. One local authority we work with has already sacked half of its staff and it simply doesn't have extra money to pay for these services which were previously paid for by the DWP and CLG.

The spending review is helping working families and has protected the police and security services. But it has royally screwed the most vulnerable and chronically ill people in Britain. To those who voted for this (including David from Witney who wrote to his local council to complain about service closures) who think there has been no impact: you are wrong. There has been a huge impact. What is about to happen is around 15,000 beds for homeless/mentally ill/learning disabled people will be closed in 2018. There is an impact and other things could have been cut instead - but the impact is felt, as often is the case, by those least able to protest against it.

I am keen to share the truth about this spending review, especially about the 'good news' headlines. It's probably pretty good news unless you have a friend or relative in supported housing because they have a severe mental health problem, learning disability or are homeless. AIBU?

Shallishanti Fri 27-Nov-15 00:00:44

sorry, are you saying that DHP are funded by central government?

lessonsintightropes Fri 27-Nov-15 00:34:50

DHP has always been refunded by the government until this spending review - this is now not the case. This will also affect people previously affected by the bedroom tax who were otherwise supported by local authorities.

Magpie18 Fri 27-Nov-15 00:49:43

The most vulnerable are the easiest targets.

caroldecker Fri 27-Nov-15 00:50:10

Can;t find any details of this change - can you link please?

lessonsintightropes Fri 27-Nov-15 01:04:21

Spending review Most relevant paragraph one up from the bottom of the paragraph.

Section 6.2, though it doesn't spell it out unless you understand how the current subsidy system works. Happy to answer any questions about the existing funding regime and why this new approach will be so damaging.

PausingFlatly Fri 27-Nov-15 16:12:13

The paragraph that reads "Additional Discretionary Housing Payment funding will be made available to local authorities to protect the most vulnerable including those in supported accommodation"?

The impact on supported housing is completely opaque to those of us who don't know how it works.

It would be really valuable if you could spell out what currently happens, and what this change is.

SilverDragonfly1 Fri 27-Nov-15 16:16:47

I was under no illusions that the spending cuts would not now be visited on the vulnerable even harder (still completely against the tax credits cuts though!), but this is a new low. If it is going to happen this way, the people involved MUST make a noise about it. They can count on my support anyway.

Shallishanti Fri 27-Nov-15 17:43:21

how is what it says there different from the exisiting situation?
DHP is made available to LAs??
does it mean LAs get a one off pot for DHP ?

Room101isWhereIUsedToLive Fri 27-Nov-15 17:52:16

Bloody Tories. Some clever bugger came up with this, as they knew it would be something that most people wouldn't pick up on.

seasidesally Fri 27-Nov-15 18:18:08

can someone explain pls

PausingFlatly Fri 27-Nov-15 18:22:05

I caught this late last night when the OP posted, and she probably hasn't seen today's replies.

Hoping to hear more when she gets back to this.

JessicasRabbit Fri 27-Nov-15 18:24:16

So essentially, the government is removing funding from all supported housing - including centres for homeless people and those unable to live independently (due to learning difficulties, mental health problems etc).

Their plan is to shift responsibility for this to a different department, one which is already chronically underfunded.

Have I got that right?

ExtraBlessings Fri 27-Nov-15 18:29:55

I didn't know this. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. Will check in later for update.

caroldecker Fri 27-Nov-15 19:09:29

If the OP is not coming back to explain, from what I can gather from searches:

1. Housing benefit is used to pay for hostels and supported housing
2. HB is being limited in the 'social sector' to the same limit as private rentals, ie 30% of average rent in an area for new rentals from 2016.
3. I assume some supported housing charge more than this, so will need to lower rents or get more money from tenants for new tenants
4. The discretionary housing pot is an amount of money councils can use how they see fit to pay to people who have their HB cut
5. The government is putting more money into this, but the OP believes not enough

Atenco Fri 27-Nov-15 19:43:35

So sad, watching this from afar, that the UK that was able to look after its sick and vulnerable in the post second world war period, is throwing them overboard in a time of greater prosperity.

Also heard that the UK government is going to "let local authorities keep their business taxes", which sounds to me like wealthy areas will get much better services than poorer areas.

ConceptOfBiscuits Fri 27-Nov-15 20:24:09

But its not just HB which is used to pay for supported housing costs.
There are also usually (dependent on local authority and their priorities I have added this as I only know about our LA and locals ones so unsure if this is different in areas), payments from other sources e.g. supporting people, probation, social services, in our area the only reason this has not been coming from other depts outside of supporting people was that supporting people have for the last few years been reducing the funding.
A local service has its SP (supporting people) funding withdrawn, it changed the service from "supported housing"- getting funding through supporting people which covered the support side and HB paid for the housing costs, to "housing tenancy sustainment service"- changed the services offered slightly and were then able to claim an enhanced HB payment which included some housing services charges as well as rent costs".

This process has been being used around the Country for a good few years since the government withdrew the ring fence around SP funding and therefore local authorities began reducing/withdrawing funding.

Now I am not saying this is good, either for the service above or generally.
But may be a possible alternative which would enable bedspaces to stay open, albeit with changes to services which they are allowed to offer.

quietbatperson Fri 27-Nov-15 20:33:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SanityClause Fri 27-Nov-15 20:38:56

Well, I'm pleased about this, as now there will be more homeless people on the street for us to burn £50 notes in front of.

I was getting concerned that there wasn't enough of them.

Aliceinwonderlust Fri 27-Nov-15 20:41:55

Well, I know this is no comfort but we were expecting far far worse than this

pickymix Fri 27-Nov-15 20:52:04

DS 20 is disabled and gets full HB for his council flat. He's not subject to the shared accommodation rate because he gets top rate of DLA. I expect many of the most vulnerable will also be exempt from the SAR as they will be disabled too. The capping of social rents to LHA shouldn't affect him, his rent is £99pw (London borough) and LHA is £260pw. In any case the shared room rate is £98pw so even for those who aren't exempt, it would be a small top-up.

ConceptOfBiscuits Fri 27-Nov-15 20:52:36

Actually thinking about this even more, your OP only mentions HB- housing benefit has not and can not be used to pay for support within housing its used for housing costs only.

Supporting people funding is what is used to pay for the support side in any project (or as mentioned previously where this has been withdrawn/cut other depts have picked up the costs).

info about SP

So for example a service I know houses single homeless females, it recieves XX from supporting people to fund staff costs to provide support, it recieves XX from HB (if clients are eligible) for housing related costs now this does include a small amount for a handyman and admin for housing related activities only, however does not include anything towards any type of care/support as this can not be claimed through HB.

Cuts in HB will not mean services will need to close as they are no longer receiving a higher rate HB and therefore reduces all of their income as their is still SP funding, which covers the support side.

However there will need to be changes to enable projects to continue to be open.

Also as a side and lets remember supporting people funds the support provided in the above project.
The HB amount which only covers the housing and specific housing related costs paid for a single room within a shared house is nearly X3 that of what the same young person could claim as per the local housing allowance for that authority for a room in a shared house through a private landlord.
This project is not unusual within the local authority or other LA's, all others have very similar rents.

lessonsintightropes Sat 28-Nov-15 03:03:13

Thanks everyone for such thoughtful responses. I'm back to answer the queries here, apologies it's been delayed - I've spent most of the last 24 hours checking out where we are at.

JessicaRabbit and caroldecker are exactly right. It used to be the case, for the last twelve years, that central government understood the value of supported housing. We were able to charge higher rents. The concept was 'target rent' i.e. the rent that was charged by local authorities and housing associations, plus 10%. This additional 10% was to account for the higher costs of supporting vulnerable people - this group includes the homeless, those with severe and enduring mental health issues, people fleeing domestic abuse, children leaving care, those with drug and alcohol issues that have impacted very severely on their lives - because those people cost more to house. This is because there's a higher cost associated with these groups due to their needs - you need to replace more doors when someone's abusive ex-husband finds out where the refuge is and kicks down doors, for example, or when someone is on a psychotic break and needs 30-minute welfare checks to make sure they don't commit suicide - especially as mainstream mental health services won't admit or work with them, if they are also drinking or angry and rude to health care workers. (Very much not a diss against the NHS, just a statement of facts.)

What this means in reality is that funding was previously organised by central government - for one reason, as an understanding that some Tory councils didn't want to pay for these things and for another, because in many cases, people needed helping over different local authority areas. Women fleeing DV shouldn't be housed in the same borough as an abusive partner who may seek them out; kids in care who come from estates where birth postcode automatically includes them in gangs should be moved so they can have a fresh start.

The major problem is we went from an old regime where this was done very badly, locally, to a national programme which worked pretty well. We're now moving to a local programme where local authorities are under the most extreme pressure I've ever seen and where in some cases, councils have already laid off at least a third of their own staff (like Lewisham, where I live). There isn't the money to pick up these additional costs, especially when they have other things to pay for which are (rightly) statutory, like home care for older people. The Tories have said they will give some unspecified additional money to local authorities to spend on the 'Discretionary Housing Pot' (aka DHP). This is the fund that most councils have already spent in the first two months of the year to make up the housing costs of people like disabled folk who need an extra bedroom for a carer, who have been screwed by the bedroom tax.

I am in tears as I write this. I think a lot more people will die because they cannot access basic services, in many cases because they've been let down by statutory services who cannot cope with their complex and multiple needs. Sorry for the rant. I wanted more people to know about what was going on. Again, happy to answer more questions if it would help others understand the impact of the austerity agenda.

lessonsintightropes Sat 28-Nov-15 03:08:33

And Concept spot on. Supporting People, which paid for the revenue funding (i.e. paid for keyworkers to do the day to day support) was un-ringfenced in 2012 (i.e. local authorities still got the money, but were able to spend it on other things). In Derbyshire for example 81% of the money was shifted to pay for statutory care services instead, and all the services for care leavers were cut completely. Most London (where I work) boroughs chose to to things like close libraries or stop funding sports work instead of this; whilst that was also short sighted they really didn't have a choice. I can't see how this will end well.

PausingFlatly Sat 28-Nov-15 10:17:13

Yes, I remember the Discretionary Housing Pot being hit by bedroom tax: the govt said it was fine that disabled people (other than those awarded DLA) weren't exempt from bedroom tax regardless of need, because they could apply for DHP.

At the same time, they knew DHP was no where big enough to cover everyone.

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