On 20 July, housing benefit (HB) and supported housing was debated in parliament (see here) and a call was made to the Government (by Grahame M. Morris, Easington, Labour) to exempt supported housing from the planned cuts to HB and to consult further with supported housing providers to identify ways all vulnerable people who need supported housing can access it (and collect more evidence). During the debate there was much praise for supported housing including sheltered housing and the savings it can make for the public purse as well as the need to retain supported housing and services and enable vulnerable people to access them. Much of the evidence presented focused on this as well as the impact of the continued uncertainty on the housing sector.
In spite of the evidence from NHF and others (which included the plans of housing providers close supported housing facilities), the outcome of this motion to reverse the decision to cut HB for vulnerable people in specialist housing was Ayes: 256 Noes: 290 which essentially invalidated the motion and a decision was yet again postponed. The Secretary of State will be giving further consideration to the evidence and an announcement is now expected to be made in the early autumn.
‘Early autumn’ is of course predictably vague and a somewhat moveable feast. Because of the party conferences, the autumn parliamentary session will start on 5 September but break gain on 15 September. Therefore, if an announcement is not made between these 5 and 15 September, it will be not be made until after 10 October when parliament reconvenes.
Also released on 20 July 2016, was a revised timetable for transferring existing benefit claimants onto Universal Credit (UC). This process will now start mid-2019 and will not be completed until mid-2022.
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