Vulnerable and disadvantaged could be left with nowhere to live under benefit cap, warn councils

Supported housing needs to be exempt from the housing benefit cap in order to protect the elderly, ex-homeless, people fleeing domestic violence, ex-offenders, and people with learning disabilities or mental health problems, councils urge today.

Government has already announced the cap will come into force for social housing from April 2018 but is likely to confirm in July, following a review, whether this will also apply to supported accommodation.

The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils, is warning that some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in society most in need of this type of housing won’t have enough money to cover the higher rental costs needed to run supported accommodation, which incurs higher maintenance costs and investment than general needs housing.

It would mean councils, where housing and social care services and budgets are already under enormous strain, being faced with a scramble to find vulnerable tenants suitable accommodation and having to meet any shortfall in costs.

This could lead to some people being forced to remain in hospital, due to a lack of homes, which would seriously undermine efforts to move people into the community and heap further pressure on the NHS.

The LGA is also warning many supported housing schemes could be forced to close as a result of the lost revenue, if the cap was introduced, leading to a shortage of available homes.