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It was once said that a week in politics is a long time and that’s certainly true in the fast-paced world that we are currently living in. With 24 hour news, campaigns for all sorts of things, scandals and stories coming at us from all angles, it’s no wonder that one day’s massive issue, is quickly replaced by another, equally important subject.

The proposed changes to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and the impact on vulnerable people if they come into effect as planned seemingly falls into this, ‘crucial today, forgotten tomorrow’ category. 

For those of you who may have forgotten, the Government plans to cap LHA which would mean a cut in the housing benefit support for people living in specialist housing. This will affect thousands of the most vulnerable people in the country including older people, people living with a disability, those fleeing domestic violence, young adults leaving care, homeless people and young families.

The cap will decimate the supported housing sector, making schemes that provide additional support to those who really need it simply unviable, with the (unrealistic) expectation that public services such as the NHS will pick up the pieces.

We understand why the Government are proposing to change the LHA rates for social housing tenants to bring them in-line with the private rented sector but the decision to include supported housing rents is one that we just can’t agree with.

The initial proposals were that LHA rates would be applied to all social rents from April 2018, where tenants had signed new or re-let tenancies for 1 April 2016. Following an Opposition Day debate that was held in the House of Commons on 27 January 2016, a year-long exemption was confirmed by the Government for all tenants of supported accommodation in the social sector. This means that the new measure will only apply to these tenancies from April 2017, rather than April 2016.

Job done?

This was great news for all concerned – the weeks of campaigning on social media, the letter writing and lobbying of MPs had seemed to pay off. Job done?

Not quite. Supported accommodation has only been given a year-long exemption – that means anyone signing a tenancy on or after 1 April 2017 will be affected by the changes that are still planned to come into effect from April 2018.

The postponement that many have seen as a victory, has in fact, created more anxiety. Many providers of supported housing find themselves stuck in limbo as they are unable to commit to future housing projects for the most vulnerable members of society. The uncertainty around whether this policy will come into effect affects thousands of people (and their families) who need specialist supported homes to live in and so we’re urging the Government to make supported housing exempt from the proposed LHA cap.

Please show your support by signing the petition and sharing with your local MP, your colleagues, friends and family so we can push this crucial issue to the front of everyone’s mind and get some clarity from the Government sooner rather than later.

Follow the links below to find out more:

Communication specialist - My days are spent telling stories, networking, copywriting, posting on social media and delivering training to colleagues - a bit of everything really! 

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