Since last year’s Autumn statement, when the Government announced that they intend to cap Housing Benefit rates for the social housing sector at the same level as the Local Housing Allowance from 2018 onwards:

  • 80% of planned supported housing projects have been put on hold*
  • 40% of existing supported accommodation schemes have been at risk of closure*.

Mencap previously signed an open letter to the Government calling for a sustainable future funding model for the sector, which today has not been guaranteed.

Dan Scorer, Head of Policy at Mencap, said:

Today’s announcement is at odds with what the sector has been repeatedly calling for, and risks undermining disabled people’s right to have a choice over where they call home.

Whilst we welcome the further exemption of supported housing from the LHA cap until 2019/20, it was widely expected the Government would today secure a sustainable future for the sector. Instead the proposal risks adding to a growing housing crisis for people with a learning disability who need the safety and security that supported housing offers.

The system is currently under huge strain, with local authorities struggling to add the minimum of 1,000 new supported housing units required every year for people with a learning disability to keep up with demand. The fact that 80% of supported housing building projects have been put on hold since the initial announcement in autumn 2015 also creates difficulties for the Government’s own agenda to move people out of Assessment and Treatment Units, like Winterbourne View, and back into their community.

It’s unclear how this proposal of funding for supported housing via a localised pot will be able to keep up with this demand, and we fear it will create a postcode lottery causing anxiety and uncertainty for those desperately in need of the safety and security supported housing offers. It will further undermine the right of people with a learning disability to have their reasonable housing needs met.

We are also deeply concerned to learn that the 1% rent reduction will now apply to supported housing going forward. This is adding an unexpected and additional strain on a sector struggling to provide much needed housing for people with a learning disability.

The Government’s proposals will compromise the right for people with a learning disability to live independently, and must be reconsidered urgently.

- Ends –

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or media@mencap.org.uk or for out of hours, call 07770 656 659.

Notes to editors

*Figures from the National Housing Federation: http://www.housing.org.uk/blog/tell-us-how-you-think-supported-housing-should-be-funded

Mencap Housing Report: http://bit.ly/2avmfgf

About Mencap

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

www.mencap.org.uk

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life.

People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.

Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.