Welfare Reform and Work Bill briefing for members - October 2015

As a Committee of MPs is considering our submission and oral evidence provided to the inquiry on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, this briefing focuses on our concerns about clauses 19-22 of the Bill which will impose a rent reduction on social housing providers for four years.

9 October 2015

The rent reduction is a particular concern for housing associations that provide supported housing for vulnerable groups such as domestic abuse refuges, homelessness hostels and homes for people with disabilities or other acute care needs, including frail older people.

Government has acknowledged that “the rent reduction measures may disproportionately impact on supported housing and may cause a reduction in service provision”. However, a complete exception for supported accommodation from the legislation has been rejected as disproportionate.

“Specialised supported accommodation”, already exempted from the Rent Standard, “are likely to remain exempted”. However, this definition only covers a fraction of supported homes (about 10,000) and very few, if any, domestic abuse refuges and homelessness hostels.

Our view is that “Specified Accommodation” should be exempt from the rent reduction. Labour MPs Emily Thornberry and Neil Coyle have tabled an amendment (109) to the bill, which would achieve this.