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Supported Accommodation

Volume 616: debated on Monday 24 October 2016

13. What assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on homelessness of the decision to cap housing benefit for supported accommodation at local housing allowance rates. (906739)

The Government are committed to protecting the vulnerable, including homeless people. That is why we deferred the implementation of the local housing allowance rates for supported housing until April 2019. From then on, we will provide a new funding model to meet additional housing costs above the local housing allowance rates.

That is all very well, but the chief executive of the National Housing Federation has already stated:

“We want to put supported housing on a secure and sustainable footing for the long term and we are not confident that the new system will guarantee this.”

What is wrong with that point of view?

I have met the chief executive of the National Housing Federation and discussed this issue with him at some length. We are giving confidence to the sector that funding will be devolved to local authorities, and that that funding will be ring-fenced. Save for the changes to social rent increases, the quantum of funding to the sector will be the same. The chief executive seemed reasonably reassured on that point.

Following the statement made by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green), on 15 September, it is vital that the consultation on the funding of supported housing should get under way as soon as possible. Can the Minister tell the House when it will commence?

The consultation will be released very shortly, and the evidence review on which this process has been based will be released at the same time.

The Minister should realise that people living in supported accommodation are among the most vulnerable in society. He has left a whole series of charities and others in the third sector, including Framework in Nottingham, in limbo as a result of the lack of a decision on this issue. He must ensure that the Government put their money where their mouth is and support those vulnerable people. They need help and they need it now.

As I have just said, save for the social rent increases, the quantum of funding will be the same in this regard. We are setting out certainty, and we will certainly be doing that in the consultation, which will be released shortly.