Presentation on theme: "“Specified accommodation” made simple"— Presentation transcript:
1“Specified accommodation” made simple Geoffrey Ferres – SitraPaul Anderson – Homeless Link
2“Exempt accommodation” Introduced in 1996 to protect supported housing from new limits on Housing Benefit for non-local-authority tenantsReflected the extra rental and housing management costs of supported housingBut the nature of much supported housing changed after this, especially with introduction of Supporting People
3Impact of welfare reform Benefit changes introduced after 2010 threatened to impact upon supported housing especially:Universal Credit: monthly assessment and payment; direct payment to clients as defaultBenefit capSocial Housing Size Criteria (“Bedroom Tax”)Representations were made to the Government as to the problems these could create for supported housing providers
4Government’s response 1 “This is one of the areas where there has been a great deal of concern expressed by various groups about the position of supported accommodation.We are very concerned not to undermine their position, so we will be making sure that for supported accommodation, the structure of getting the payments and support for their costs are not changed.”Lord Freud to the Work and Pensions Select Committee 17th September 2012
5Government’s response 2 Excluded “exempt accommodation” from the benefit cap and size criteria changesChanged regulations so Housing Benefit would continue to be paid for claimants living in “exempt accommodation” who were receiving Universal Credit .Unfortunately this left much of supported housing uncovered. Further representations were made to Government to this effect
6Government’s response 3 “It has recently been brought to our attention that much of the existing provision does not meet the definition of supported exempt accommodation”“We would like to make clear our intention to protect providers from any unintended consequences (of Welfare Reform)”“officials are working closely with other government departments and key stakeholders to develop workable solutions through a change to the definition or other means, without increased spend. These include local authorities, the National Housing Federation, Homeless Link, Sitra, the Chartered Institute of Housing and the devolved administrations”Lord Freud letter 4th April 2013
7Finding a solutionTook over a year of discussions and looking at various options for achieving goal set by Lord Freud in his letterQuestions in Parliament including from the Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee to the Prime MinisterFinally legislative changes laid before Parliament on 20th March The Housing Benefit and Universal Credit (Supported Accommodation) (Amendment) Regulations 2014
8Benefit cap: HB and UC Protection from cap from different dates: Housing Benefit from 10 AprilUniversal Credit from 28 October
9Four categories of Specified Accommodation “Exempt accommodation”Similar supported housing but where landlord does not provide the care, support or supervisionDomestic violence refugesLocal authority non-self-contained supported housing (including hostels)For first two landlord must be:Housing associationRegistered charityNot-for-profit organisationEnglish upper-tier county councilLandlord cannot be:Housing authorityPrivate, “for profit” organisation.For second category claimant must have been “placed” in the accommodation to meet a “need” for care, support or supervision.As regulations stand, self-referrals would not be protected
10“Exempt accommodation” ‘Exempt accommodation’ covers “resettlement places” and tenants whose landlord:Is a housing association, an English upper-tier county council, a registered charity or a not-for-profit organisation; andProvides – or some person or organisation acting on their behalf provides – the tenant with care, support or supervision.
11Similar accommodation Second category covers claimants:Whose landlord is (again) a housing association, an English upper-tier county council, a registered charity or a not-for-profit organisationAdmitted into accommodation to meet a need for care, support or supervisionWho receive care, support or supervision – no matter who provides it.
12Housing authority “hostels” Fourth category covers tenants:Of non-self-contained accommodation (such as hostels) owned or managed by a housing authority whereThey receive care, support or supervision.
13Self-contained? Each unit would have own facilities for: Eating SleepingCookingWashing (person, not laundry!).
14Domestic violence refuges Third category covers claimants:Whose landlord is a housing authority, a housing association, an English upper-tier county council, a registered charity or a not-for-profit organisationWhose accommodation was provided because they have left their home as a result of domestic violenceThe accommodation consists of a building, or part of a building, used wholly or mainly for non-permanent accommodation of persons who have left their homes as a result of domestic violence.
15Domestic violenceAny incident, or pattern of incidents, of controlling behaviour (defined), coercive behaviour (defined) , violence or abuse, including but not limited to:Psychological abusePhysical abuseSexual abuseEmotional abuseFinancial abuseregardless of the gender or sexuality of the victim
16Coercive behaviourAn act of assault, humiliation or intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten the victim
17Controlling behaviour An act designed to make a person subordinate or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance or escape or regulating their everyday behaviour
19Scenario 1: BronwenBronwen lives in a refuge where the landlord is a local authority but she receives support from a local domestic violence charity.Bronwen has fled her former home with her three young children. She does not intend to go back.She receives Income Support because her youngest child is not yet five years old.The refuge has experienced a shortfall in rent because of the benefit cap.
20Bronwen – March 2014 Income Support £71.70 Child Benefit Child 1 £71.70Child BenefitChild 1£20.30Child 2 & 3£26.80Child Tax CreditFamily£10.50Child 1-3£156.66HB-eligible rent£246.00Total£531.96Benefit cap£500.00Housing Benefit£214.04In Bronwen was not entitled to receive Housing Benefit on the full rent that would normally have been eligible because the refuge did not satisfy the “exempt accommodation” rule – housing authority tenants never do
21Bronwen – April 2014From April 2014 Bronwen can be paid full Housing Benefit and the refuge will suffer no shortfall.This would happen even if Universal Credit were rolled out: Bronwen would claim Housing Benefit and not receive the rent element of Universal Credit.At some date, probably April 2017, Bronwen may be affected by a new system for dealing with rents in supported housing.
22Scenario 2: Alan and Jenny Alan and Jenny live in a specially adapted, two-bedroom flat. Alan and Jenny are married. Alan has a disability and Jenny is Alan’s main carer. His disability means they cannot sleep in the same room, let alone the same bed.Alan’s landlord is a registered provider and he has a personal budget from social services with which he employs a personal assistant.Since April 2013 Alan and Jenny have been subject to a 14% reduction in their Housing Benefit as the council decided the arrangement does not fit the “exempt accommodation” or overnight carer provisions.
23Alan and Jenny – April 2014Alan and Jenny continue to suffer a 14% Housing Benefit reduction in spite of it now being “specified accommodation” because their problem is with the size criteria.If Universal Credit were rolled out, Alan and Jenny would claim Housing Benefit and not receive the rent element of Universal Credit.At some date, probably April 2017, Alan and Jenny may be affected by a new system for dealing with rents in supported housing.
24Summaries Exempt accommodation Care, support and supervision Types of landlordRequirement to receive care, support or supervision
25Only “exempt accommodation” Entitles claimants to high level of protection from restriction of rent for Housing Benefit purposesProtects claimants from size criteria
26Care, support, supervision Caselaw has established the claimant must:Receive a more than trifling amountWhich they actually need.The care, support or supervision must not be a “trifling” amount – it must make a difference to the claimant’s ability to maintain the tenancyIt’s not enough that the care, support or supervision is available, the claimant must actually take advantage of it – or, if the benefit decision is being made at the beginning of the tenancy before there is any evidence, it must be likely the claimant will do soThe claimant must actually need the care, support or supervision – if it’s provided and the claimant does not actually need it, it doesn’t count.So the “exempt accommodation” rule applies in theory to individual benefit claimants and not necessarily to whole projects:Some tenants may not take up the support offeredOthers may receive support they don’t need.
27Landlords by category Landlord Categories English upper-tier county council1, 2, 3Housing associationRegistered charityNot-for-profitHousing authority3, 4Tenants of a private “for profit” landlord fall outside “specified accommodation”
28Receipt of care or support CategoryMust receive care/support?1Yes23No4