LHA cap - Where are we now and what can we do?
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On 27 January 2016 an Opposition Day debate was held in the House of Commons following concerns raised by charities, housing associations, councils and others across the country about the introduction of housing benefit cuts that will affect the homes of thousands of vulnerable people.
The Government plans to cap the Local Housing Allowance (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.
Please sign our petition here to help vulnerable people keep the help, support and home that they need.
John Healey, the Shadow Minister for housing and planning put the case forward, calling on the Government to exempt supported housing from the housing benefit cuts. He explained how this cut would affect hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people whose homes have been put at risk by the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cap.
If you don’t work in housing, you might not have realised the debate was taking place – but this will affect so many people so it’s really important for everyone to get involved now.
The result of the debate went in favour of the Government with 286 MPs voting against the proposal and 239 voted for the amendment. In other words, 286 MPs voted to introduce the LHA cap that could see thousands of vulnerable people unable to afford to live in specialist supported housing.
The National Housing Federation have said that under this proposal 82,000 specialist homes could be forced out of business – that’s 41% of all supported housing in the country. What will happen to all the people who totally depend on specialist housing – many of whom have no family support?
Everyone who moves into supported housing from 2016 will face the cap (with it coming into force 2018) and we are extremely concerned about the devastating effect that the LHA cap would have on vulnerable people and their families.
Do you have an older relative who needs specialist housing support? Are they struggling at home but want to keep their independence? A report from Public Health England says older people in England are living longer than ever with figures showing that for those aged 65, men can expect to live for another 19 years and women a further 21 years. This is great news for those who manage to live healthy and independent lives but what about those older people who need extra help and support?
At the moment there are supported housing schemes throughout the country that offer exactly this kind of home but if the LHA cap comes in there is a very real chance that many of these will disappear leaving relatives of vulnerable older people to pick up the pieces.
Maybe you care for your adult son or daughter who has a learning disability and are worried about where they will live if you’re unable to look after them. Reports from the foundation for people with learning disabilities suggest that ‘29,000 adults with a learning disability live with parents aged 70 or over, many of whom are too old or frail to continue in their caring role.’ What will happen to these extremely vulnerable people if the specialist supported housing schemes have to close because of the introduction of the LHA cap?
What can I do?
A report is being put together at the moment with MPs voting on the issue sometime in the near future. We all have the power to try and influence the outcome of the vote by contacting your local Member of Parliament and voicing your concerns.
Many MPs hold local surgeries where you can go along in person to talk through your worries face-to-face or you could write to them asking them to vote against bringing in the LHA cap. If you’re not sure who your MP is you can find out here. If social media is your thing, most MPs have Twitter accounts so you can Tweet them directly – you can find their Twitter handle at TweetyourMP.com
To read a letter that our Chief Executive, Philippa Jones has written to MPs highlighting the real impact of LHA on vulnerable people click here.
We’ve also put together a piece highlighting just how much it would cost people to live in supported accommodation if the LHA cap is introduced as planned - take a look at the story here.