Last week, the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, shared his Autumn Statement. Below we have summarised the impact of the rent cap as well as other main announcements relevant to housing associations announced last week.
The government announced it will be capping social rents at 7% in 2023/24 and that there will be an exemption from the rent cap for supported housing. The National Housing Federation supports this decision and are also very pleased that the government has announced an exemption from the rent cap for supported housing providers, which will ensure the future viability of care and support for some of the most vulnerable people in the country. The overwhelming majority of tenants who use these specialist services will have their rent increase met in full by housing benefits or Universal Credit.
Thanks to the certainty this decision has provided, we have spoken to NHF members, representing over 80% of shared ownership homes in the country. These providers have confirmed through us that they will voluntarily cap shared ownership rent increases to no more than 7% for the rent year 2023/24. On 30 November, our legal advisors, Anthony Collins, will be holding a webinar on implementing this voluntary cap for all our members.
Housing association homes are on average more energy efficient than any other homes. However, the sector still faces a significant challenge to decarbonise the 2.7 million homes owned by housing associations by 2050. Yesterday's announcement of an extra £6bn for energy efficiency measures is a welcome and necessary step from the government.
This funding will be vital to helping housing associations to continue making progress towards their individual net zero targets, and will contribute to the government’s ability to meet their legally binding target for the UK to reach net zero by 2050. It will also help better protect tenants from soaring energy costs in the future.
To mitigate the more immediate impact of the energy crisis, the Chancellor announced an extension of the energy price cap guarantee which will now continue from April for a further 12 months. This cap of £3,000 per year for the average household will limit the impact of any further hikes to energy costs.
In his statement, the Chancellor took steps to protect those on the lowest incomes who will feel the impact of the cost-of-living crisis most acutely in the coming months. Benefits will be uprated by inflation, with an increase of 10.1%. For the first time since 2016, the benefits cap will also rise with inflation next year. We welcome this news, having signed an open letter to the Prime Minister earlier this month with over 100 organisations calling for these measures. We believe it will ensure the benefits system continues to function as a financial safety net. Whilst these measures are welcomed, it is important to note that claimants need to wait until April 2023 to benefit from the uprating. This means that they will still face this winter without any increase to their income.
Further to this, there will be additional Cost of Living Payments of £900 to households on means tested benefits, £300 to pensioner households and £150 to people on disability benefit. In a move to support older people, the pension credit will also increase by 10.1%, which will protect the triple lock pension and mean an extra £870 for each state pensioner.
There has also been an extension of the Local Authority Household Support Fund with an additional £1bn of funding available. Finally, a delay in the planned movement of Employment and Support Allowance claimants – not in receipt of child tax credit – onto Universal Credit until 2028 has been announced.
We welcome the announcement of up to £4.7bn being put in the adult social care system in England for 2024-25. In our submission to the Adult Social Care Committee in April, we called for the underfunding of social care to be urgently addressed. We want to continue working with government to encourage an integrated social care system that considers health care, public health and housing.