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“Specified accommodation” made simple

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Presentation on theme: "“Specified accommodation” made simple"— Presentation transcript:

1 “Specified accommodation” made simple
Geoffrey Ferres – Sitra Paul Anderson – Homeless Link

2 “Exempt accommodation”
Introduced in 1996 to protect supported housing from new limits on Housing Benefit for non-local-authority tenants Reflected the extra rental and housing management costs of supported housing But the nature of much supported housing changed after this, especially with introduction of Supporting People

3 Impact 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 default Benefit cap Social Housing Size Criteria (“Bedroom Tax”) Representations were made to the Government as to the problems these could create for supported housing providers

4 Government’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

5 Government’s response 2
Excluded “exempt accommodation” from the benefit cap and size criteria changes Changed 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

6 Government’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

7 Finding a solution Took over a year of discussions and looking at various options for achieving goal set by Lord Freud in his letter Questions in Parliament including from the Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee to the Prime Minister Finally legislative changes laid before Parliament on 20th March The Housing Benefit and Universal Credit (Supported Accommodation) (Amendment) Regulations 2014

8 Benefit cap: HB and UC Protection from cap from different dates:
Housing Benefit from 10 April Universal Credit from 28 October

9 Four categories of Specified Accommodation
“Exempt accommodation” Similar supported housing but where landlord does not provide the care, support or supervision Domestic violence refuges Local authority non-self-contained supported housing (including hostels) For first two landlord must be: Housing association Registered charity Not-for-profit organisation English upper-tier county council Landlord cannot be: Housing authority Private, “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; and Provides – or some person or organisation acting on their behalf provides – the tenant with care, support or supervision.

11 Similar 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 organisation Admitted into accommodation to meet a need for care, support or supervision Who receive care, support or supervision – no matter who provides it.

12 Housing authority “hostels”
Fourth category covers tenants: Of non-self-contained accommodation (such as hostels) owned or managed by a housing authority where They receive care, support or supervision.

13 Self-contained? Each unit would have own facilities for: Eating
Sleeping Cooking Washing (person, not laundry!).

14 Domestic 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 organisation Whose accommodation was provided because they have left their home as a result of domestic violence The 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.

15 Domestic violence Any incident, or pattern of incidents, of controlling behaviour (defined), coercive behaviour (defined) , violence or abuse, including but not limited to: Psychological abuse Physical abuse Sexual abuse Emotional abuse Financial abuse regardless of the gender or sexuality of the victim

16 Coercive behaviour An act of assault, humiliation or intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten the victim

17 Controlling 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

18 Scenarios Bronwen Jenny and Alan

19 Scenario 1: Bronwen Bronwen 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.

20 Bronwen – March 2014 Income Support £71.70 Child Benefit Child 1
£71.70 Child Benefit Child 1 £20.30 Child 2 & 3 £26.80 Child Tax Credit Family £10.50 Child 1-3 £156.66 HB-eligible rent £246.00 Total £531.96 Benefit cap £500.00 Housing Benefit £214.04 In 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

21 Bronwen – April 2014 From 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.

22 Scenario 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.

23 Alan and Jenny – April 2014 Alan 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.

24 Summaries Exempt accommodation Care, support and supervision
Types of landlord Requirement to receive care, support or supervision

25 Only “exempt accommodation”
Entitles claimants to high level of protection from restriction of rent for Housing Benefit purposes Protects claimants from size criteria

26 Care, support, supervision
Caselaw has established the claimant must: Receive a more than trifling amount Which 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 tenancy It’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 so The 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 offered Others may receive support they don’t need.

27 Landlords by category Landlord Categories
English upper-tier county council 1, 2, 3 Housing association Registered charity Not-for-profit Housing authority 3, 4 Tenants of a private “for profit” landlord fall outside “specified accommodation”

28 Receipt of care or support
Category Must receive care/support? 1 Yes 2 3 No 4

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