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WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK Key impacts of welfare reform Welfare reform key agenda item in the policy team for the last two years. Central to the way in which.

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Presentation on theme: "WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK Key impacts of welfare reform Welfare reform key agenda item in the policy team for the last two years. Central to the way in which."— Presentation transcript:

1 WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK Key impacts of welfare reform Welfare reform key agenda item in the policy team for the last two years. Central to the way in which Homeless Link working on this agenda is hearing from agencies about the impacts of the changes on your client group and on your agencies as the change comes in – informs our policy work Interactive session

2 WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK Council Tax Benefit Some residents have to pay a council tax bill that was previously covered by benefit and may struggle to budget or to pay for bills, rent and daily essentials. Rent arrears or other debts are accrued

3 WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK ? Are staff aware of changes to Council Tax Benefit and how this will affect clients living independently/moving on to independent accommodation? Are staff aware of what the local plan is for council tax support and level of contribution required for people in receipt of council tax support? Are staff able to support those service users currently affected by the changes to council tax benefit to understand and manage their bill?

4 WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK Shared Accommodation Rate Shared Accommodation Rate limits Housing Benefit to a maximum amount based on the rent for a room in a shared property in the local area Previously this applied to people under 25, from January 2012 extended to people aged 34 and under There are fewer options for moving residents into settled PRS accommodation, either due to a lack of shared accommodation or because there is more competition for the shared accommodation. Residents require proof of hostel residence to qualify for exemption from SAR. Ex-residents 25-34yrs old who have been resettled into 1-bed flats may face eviction.

5 WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK Are staff aware of and understand the age extension to SAR and exemptions for 25-34 year olds? Are staff aware of processes for providing proof of hostel exemption? Are staff aware of local process for applying for an exemption from the age extension of the shared accommodation rate? Has the organisation a system in place for clients to access older records in order to provide previous service users with proof to support an application for a SAR exemption based on hostel stay? Has the organisation set up a system for providing proof of hostel residency to clients going forward?

6 WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK Local Housing Allowance (LHA) LHA set at the 30th percentile in each area, a reduction from the 50th percentile. This means about three in ten properties for rent in the area should be affordable to people on HB rather than five in ten properties There are fewer options for moving residents into settled accommodation, as few PRS properties are available within the LHA cap. Ex-residents resettled into PRS properties can no longer afford rent and face eviction.

7 WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK ? What is impact on your residents ? Are you finding it much harder to access PRS for your clients? Are people sourcing accommodation from outside Brighton & Hove ? Are you getting people coming round again into hostels who have been evicted from PRS ?

8 WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK Social Fund Residents need information about how to apply for welfare assistance from the council. Residents need additional support when moving on, to furnish properties and buy essentials. Residents whose benefits are sanctioned or disrupted accrue arrears and need support with essentials. Residents who struggle with budgeting need support to avoid running out of money and/or turning to more problematic forms of credit.

9 WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK ? Do staff understand when help is still available from DWP and when they have to go to local scheme? Are staff aware of local welfare assistance, how to access support, eligibility criteria and what support will be provided in their area? Are staff aware of other funding options that could be used for move-on costs. Do staff know how frequently applications can be made and know to advise clients accordingly ?

10 WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK Universal Credit Tougher sanctions and work related conditionality already in place Residents need support to understand and prepare for the transition to UC (pre- or post-resettlement). Residents struggling to budget with monthly payments accrue arrears and run out of money to buy daily essentials or pay bills. Residents’ Universal Credit is sanctioned and they cannot support themselves. Residents in employment struggle to keep track of their UC entitlement and don’t budget enough for rent and essentials.

11 WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK ? What is your clients experience of sanctions and do workers have the capacity to support clients around sanction regime? Are staff computer literate and have the skills and access to computers necessary to support clients with computer and internet use? Do staff understand support and exceptions process in UC ? Can they support clients with regard to the information they will need to provide when applying for Universal Credit in order to be considered for a payment exception? Do staff know what financial services (banks, credit unions etc.) are available in their area and have service managers developed a relationship with their managers to improve access to banking facilities for service users?

12 WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK Disability Living Allowance (DLA) / Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Residents need support to prepare for the end of their DLA claim and to make a claim for PIP. Residents whose DLA claim ends and who do not apply for, or are refused PIP, need support to budget on a lower income. Residents who no longer receive DLA or PIP are at risk of reduced mobility, access to employment and engagement with social network and activities, which could have a negative impact on their physical, mental and financial well-being resulting in increased support needs.

13 WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK ? Do staff understand the change to DLA and the implementation of PIP? Are staff confident in supporting clients to understand notifications about the end of their DLA claim and the need to apply for PIP? Are staff confident in supporting clients through the PIP application and assessment processes?

14 WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK Exempt Accommodation -why is it important ? Exempt accommodation status is significant because it allows a project to charge a higher rate of HB to take account of the support clients receive. Until now the definition has not been strictly applied and all hostels and supported housing projects have been treated as exempt accommodation. It has become important because projects treated as exempt accommodation will continue to have the housing element dealt with at a local level and clients will have their rent paid direct and clients in exempt accommodation will not be subject to the benefit cap

15 WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK Exempt Accommodation Homeless Link along with other organisations have been working hard on this issue with the government. Letter from Lord Freud reassuring us that they do not intend to allow it to destabilise sector. ‘We would like to make clear our intention to protect providers from any unintended consequences…we wish to protect refuges and hostels where care is provided by or arranged through a managing agent rather than a landlord. Such arrangements may not meet the precise definition of exempt accommodation but in all other ways the provision is identical to that which does.’ Lord Freud April 2013

16 WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK Prepare your service for Welfare Reform Policies and procedures that take into account changed entitlements and how the people you work with are being paid - for example rent and resettlement policies and procedures. Recording systems for data and support that keep the organisation informed about clients' needs and help to plan the most effective support. Staff with the skills and training to ensure clients are supported with new and existing welfare benefits, as well as financial and digital capabilty. An organisational culture that promotes clients taking greater personal responsibility for their income and moving towards employment.


18 Homeless Link Regional Manager –South East of England Tel 07789 901113

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