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Supported Housing

Volume 605: debated on Monday 8 February 2016

1. What assessment he has made of the potential effect of planned reductions in social rents and housing benefit support on the provision of supported housing. (903499)

18. What assessment he has made of the potential effect of planned reductions in social rents and housing benefit support on the provision of supported housing. (903518)

I associate myself and my colleagues on the Government Benches with your comments, Mr Speaker. Harry Harpham was a very distinguished long-serving councillor and we will all miss him in the years ahead.

This Government have always been clear that the most vulnerable will be protected and supported through our welfare reforms. Following our review of supported housing, due to report this spring, we will work with the sector to ensure appropriate protections are in place.

I, too, associate myself with the sad sentiments that have been expressed about our dear colleague.

The Minister says that the review will report in spring. It was due to report at the end of last year. Meanwhile, the Secretary of State is still pressing ahead with cuts before the review comes out. Can the Minister say why that is?

As the hon. Lady may have heard in the recent Opposition day debate, we have always been very clear that the most vulnerable in our society will be protected. We will also ensure a fair settlement for taxpayers.

Will the Minister acknowledge that, although his announcement to delay the 1% rent cut affecting supported housing is welcome, it does not go far enough and the substantive proposals should be jettisoned to inject much-needed stability back into the sector?

As I am sure the hon. Gentleman will appreciate, and as I said in the recent debate, we are working with the sector. The changes will come in in 2018, but we are very clear, and have always been very clear, that we will make sure that the most vulnerable in our society are protected.

11. Homeless hostels and foyers play a vital role in helping rough sleepers to get off the streets and into long-term homes. I would be grateful if my hon. Friend could confirm that housing associations will be given urgent clarity on whether the local housing allowance cap applies to those services. If it does not, there is a real worry that many will close and that, as a result, there will be an unnecessary rise in the numbers of young homeless people. (903510)

My hon. Friend always fights hard for his constituents. Preventing youth homelessness is a priority for this Government. We are investing £15 million in the fair chance fund, an innovative payment-by-results scheme. That is helping some 2,000 vulnerable young homeless people to get into accommodation, education, training and employment. We will work closely with providers to find a long-term solution to the funding of supported accommodation.

I, too, associate myself and those on the Labour Benches with your comments, Mr Speaker. Harry Harpham will be sorely missed by the Labour party, his constituents, and, of course, his family and friends. Our thoughts are with them at this time.

Research from Changing Lives, a Newcastle-based specialist housing agency, estimates that it and other supported housing providers across the country will lose a huge sum of money from the Chancellor’s crude cuts to housing benefit. The discretionary fund on which the Government say they must rely is totally inadequate. What will the Minister do to ensure that that vital form of housing for many thousands of people with disabilities and other specialist needs remains and is properly funded in future?

I say to the hon. Lady, as I have said before, that we will make sure that the most vulnerable in our society are protected. We are also boosting supply with £400 million-worth of funding announced in the spending review to deliver specialist affordable homes for the vulnerable, the elderly and those with disabilities. Of course, there is also our £5.3 billion investment in the better care fund, through which we are looking to integrate health and social care.