The HSEU met with Lord Freud and officials from the DWP in March to discuss the DWP’s proposals to change the way HB deals with Supported Housing. The meeting was jointly arranged and attended by the SFHA, SCSH, NHF, SITRA and Cymorth Cymru and set out to address some of the concerns providers of housing support and other stakeholders have expressed about proposals to incorporate financial support for people in supported housing within the Universal Credit system.
At the meeting delegates asked that more time be given to devising and introducing any changes. Lord Freud indicated that supported housing may not be included within the Universal Credit system from the outset and that there may be a pilot or some other impact assessment process to test any changes before they are introduced. This was welcomed by delegates because of the complexity of the funding arrangements of supported housing and the need to ensure that the new benefits system does not risk continued provision of supported housing.
Lord Freud also offered reassurance that people with support needs will not be subject to the new direct payments system whereby benefits have to be paid directly to the individual. This helps to allay fears that some groups of people – particularly those with chaotic lifestyles – might be at risk of losing their home and support because of difficulties they experience in managing their finances.
The consultation on the proposals ended in October 2011 and prompted a high volume of responses. These are still being considered by the DWP and a response is expected in the next 2 – 3 months.
Notes and action points are available from the meeting.