With the cuts in welfare benefits and housing grant about to bite, it’s worth summarising how things are looking for people with a learning disability who want a home of their own.
Private sector renting
Changes to the way Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is calculated means that people with a learning disability will only be able to afford to rent a property in the bottom third of the rental market. There’s some concern that in more expensive areas rents will outstrip LHA in a fairly short period of time. Disabled people who require night care will be able to claim the two bed LHA rate.
Social sector renting
In future tenants may be charged affordable rather than social rents for their homes and will be able to claim housing benefit to meet their housing costs. Tenants may no longer benefit from lifetime tenancies. Whilst the target is to build 150,000 new affordable homes over the next four years, there is some scepticism that this is achievable, so overall supply may reduce. This week, housing associations have been warned by the Charity Commission that if they charge affordable rents, they may lose their charitable status, increasing their costs. This may dissuade some housing associations from developing new homes. Concern has also been expressed that it will be difficult to develop new supported housing for vulnerable people under the new affordable housing rules.
The review of the exempt accommodation rules has been concluded and Ministers are considering a number of recommendations. It seems likely that the exempt accommodation rules will sooner or later be abolished and replaced with alternative provision, possibly in the form of enhanced LHA payments or council top- up payments.
HOLD grant will be available over the next four years to help people with learning disabilities get a home of their own through shared ownership. However, it’s still impossible for disabled people who rely on welfare benefits for their income to get a mortgage to pay for their share in a property. We understand that DWP have no plans to increase Support for Mortgage Interest payments for disabled people and no mortgage lenders are prepared to lend at the current rate.
Feedback and the Campaign for a Fair Society
We’re getting lots of feedback from disabled people and the organisations that support them saying that the housing position for disabled people is getting much worse and options are being closed down by the welfare reforms. The Campaign for a Fair Society argues that this assault on the welfare system is having a damaging impact on disabled people’s right to an independent life. Please visit www.campaignforafairsociety.org for more information.