Grave concerns regarding the impact of proposed housing benefit cuts on the most vulnerable social groups have also arisen. Last month a specialist housing association warned that people under the age of 35 in mental health accommodation face rent shortfalls of almost £200 a week under government plans to cap housing benefit for social housing tenants at Local Housing Allowance rates.
The housing benefit cuts which were announced last Autumn in George Osborne’s budget Statement are claimed to be aimed at bringing housing benefit rates for social housing in line with the sums paid to landlords in the private sector.
But hundreds of planned new sheltered accommodation units have been delayed or scrapped owing to proposed cuts to housing benefit. And several housing associations have said they are no longer financially viable. The National Housing Federation (NHF) has calculated that nearly 2,500 units have so far been scrapped or delayed as sheltered housing providers face losing an average of £68 a week per tenant.
Flats for elderly people and people with learning disabilities are more expensive to build and run because they provide crucial additional support. Concerns raised about the cap on housing benefit will affect society’s poorest and most vulnerable people, such as women fleeing domestic violence, dementia patients, army veterans suffering mental health problems, older and disabled people, because these people will need to find an extra £68 a week.
John Healey MP Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Housing and Planning, has commented further today on the new reports of the effect that the Chancellor’s planned cuts to housing benefit are having on specialist accommodation for elderly and vulnerable people. He said:
“Labour will continue to lead the opposition to these crude cuts. George Osborne must halt these dangerous plans and consult fully with housing providers to safeguard this essential specialist housing.”
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