“Is there anyone left on the planet who believes that refuge, hostel, sheltered and specialist supported housing will NOT close? Anyone on the planet who believes the additional £35 million of DHP will make the slightest bit of difference to the closure of supported and sheltered housing?
If so please identify yourself while there is still some mental health provision for you to reside in after you have been sectioned!”
Joe Halewood – January 2016
Northampton Sheltered Housing up the creek without a paddle?
A proposed new sheltered housing scheme on a site at Lakeview in Churchill Avenue is now in doubt according to housing campaigners.
After paying above the going market value for the site the government have now pulled the rug from under the proposed development?
Northampton DCH think so, and we are not alone in that view.
We asked Joe Halewood who as advised and supported over 200 supported housing providers across the UK. To challenge funding decisions on their behalf and to challenge the way providers operate and deliver services.
Northampton DCH asked Joe Halewood:
Northampton Borough Council are/were going to build a 50 unit complex, will this now take place?
Joe Halewood view:
No – on the proviso that the council know of the LHA maxima policy.
To explain and assuming the 50 bed sheltered unit takes its first tenants after 4 April 2016 and the rent level paid by HB is £150 per week.
From April 2016 to end of March 2018 the £150 pw in HB will be paid for all sheltered tenants YET on 4 April 2018 the maximum HB falls to the Northampton 1 bed LHA rate which is £100.05 which means that all of the tenants claiming HB need to find £49.95 per week out of their income or savings to pay the rent.
If 75% on HB this means the landlord will receive £1,848.15 per week less in HB which is £96,367 per year less and the sheltered scheme becomes non financially viable and the scheme closes because of that.
NOTE: LHA rates are frozen until 2020, creating a guarantee of rising rent shortfalls and arrears.
UPDATE Friday January 15th
Andrew Redfern, chief executive of specialist housing association Framework, warned that the cap “would mean the end of supported housing”.
“All our schemes would close, and I think all others would as well”, he said.
Kevin Beirne, group director of housing care and support at One Housing Group, said plans to build 520 extra care homes would have to be “mothballed”.
Earlier research by the Placeshappers group of housing associations estimated that the housing cap would leave a £400million black-hole in the funding of supported housing.
The Government has offered to increase Discretionary Housing Payment budgets by a total of £140million between 2018 and 2020. However, social landlords claim that this amount would not be enough to close the funding gap.
UPDATE: 21 January 2016
Proposed changes to Local Housing Allowance (LHA), Bromford HA Chief Executive Philippa Jones has issued a letter to MPs In which she states:
For sheltered housing, the impact will be considerable for new customers and new tenancies. For example, where one spouse in a joint tenancy dies and the widow(er) stays in the home as the sole tenant – a new tenancy is required to be issued. A significant number of our sheltered homes are two bedrooms allowing for the second bedroom to be used for medical equipment or to enable a partner with ill health or a disability to sleep in a separate room. Whilst older people have been exempt from under-occupancy rules, a widowed partner would see a reduction in their LHA cap as the one-bedroom allowance would be applied. This will make it financially difficult for these people to continue living in their own homes. For this reason, we will also struggle to let our two bedroom sheltered homes to new customers, reducing the number of sheltered homes available to older people
In terms of new supported housing developments – Bromford has achieved what most in the sector thought impossible. We have continued to develop specialist support and extra care schemes without capital grant. However, to do this we need higher revenue charges and if we cannot demonstrate where these will come from in the future, the Board will not support further borrowing for such schemes.
UPDATE 26 January
The dog’s breakfast (with apologies to all canines) of the Conservative’s LHA maxima policy!
No ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ no hyperbole or scaremongering, just inevitable fact!
Joe Halewood makes this confusing and complex area very very simple, so simple in fact that even a Tory MP can understand – even one as incompetent as Iain Duncan Smith