“Specified accommodation” made simple. Geoffrey Ferres – Sitra Paul Anderson – Homeless Link. “Exempt accommodation”. Introduced in 1996 to protect supported housing from new limits on Housing Benefit for non-local-authority tenants
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“Specified accommodation” made simple
Geoffrey Ferres – Sitra
Paul Anderson – Homeless Link
Introduced in 1996 to protect supported housing from new limits on Housing Benefit for non-local-authority tenants
Reflected the extra rental and housing management costs of supported housing
But the nature of much supported housing changed after this, especially with introduction of Supporting People
Benefit changes introduced after 2010 threatened to impact upon supported housing especially:
Representations were made to the Government as to the problems these could create for supported housing providers
Government’s response 1
“This is one of the areas where there has been a great deal of concern expressed by various groups about the position of supported accommodation.
We are very concerned not to undermine their position, so we will be making sure that for supported accommodation, the structure of getting the payments and support for their costs are not changed.”
Lord Freud to the Work and Pensions Select Committee 17th September 2012
Government’s response 2
Excluded “exempt accommodation” from the benefit cap and size criteria changes
Changed regulations so Housing Benefit would continue to be paid for claimants living in “exempt accommodation” who were receiving Universal Credit .
Unfortunately this left much of supported housing uncovered. Further representations were made to Government to this effect
Government’s response 3
“It has recently been brought to our attention that much of the existing provision does not meet the definition of supported exempt accommodation”
“We would like to make clear our intention to protect providers from any unintended consequences (of Welfare Reform)”
“officials are working closely with other government departments and key stakeholders to develop workable solutions through a change to the definition or other means, without increased spend. These include local authorities, the National Housing Federation, Homeless Link, Sitra, the Chartered Institute of Housing and the devolved administrations”
Lord Freud letter 4th April 2013
Finding a solution
Took over a year of discussions and looking at various options for achieving goal set by Lord Freud in his letter
Questions in Parliament including from the Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee to the Prime Minister
Finally legislative changes laid before Parliament on 20th March 1014 - The Housing Benefit and Universal Credit (Supported Accommodation) (Amendment) Regulations 2014
Protection from cap from different dates:
‘Exempt accommodation’covers “resettlement places” and tenants whose landlord:
Second category covers claimants:
Fourth category covers tenants:
Each unit would have own facilities for:
Third category covers claimants:
Any incident, or pattern of incidents, of controlling behaviour (defined), coercive behaviour (defined) , violence or abuse, including but not limited to:
regardless of the gender or sexuality of the victim
An act of assault, humiliation or intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten the victim
An act designed to make a person subordinate or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance or escape or regulating their everyday behaviour
Bronwen lives in a refuge where the landlord is a local authority but she receives support from a local domestic violence charity.
Bronwen has fled her former home with her three young children. She does not intend to go back.
She receives Income Support because her youngest child is not yet five years old.
The refuge has experienced a shortfall in rent because of the benefit cap.
From April 2014 Bronwen can be paid full Housing Benefit and the refuge will suffer no shortfall.
This would happen even if Universal Credit were rolled out: Bronwen would claim Housing Benefit and not receive the rent element of Universal Credit.
At some date, probably April 2017, Bronwen may be affected by a new system for dealing with rents in supported housing.
Alan and Jenny live in a specially adapted, two-bedroom flat. Alan and Jenny are married. Alan has a disability and Jenny is Alan’s main carer. His disability means they cannot sleep in the same room, let alone the same bed.
Alan’s landlord is a registered provider and he has a personal budget from social services with which he employs a personal assistant.
Since April 2013 Alan and Jenny have been subject to a 14% reduction in their Housing Benefit as the council decided the arrangement does not fit the “exempt accommodation” or overnight carer provisions.
Alan and Jenny continue to suffer a 14% Housing Benefit reductionin spite of it now being “specified accommodation” because their problem is with the size criteria.
If Universal Credit were rolled out, Alan and Jenny would claim Housing Benefit and not receive the rent element of Universal Credit.
At some date, probably April 2017, Alan and Jenny may be affected by a new system for dealing with rents in supported housing.
Caselaw has established the claimant must: