William Eichler 25 August 2017

Whitehall plans cause 85% drop in homes for most vulnerable

Whitehall plans cause 85% drop in homes for most vulnerable

Government plans have caused an 85% drop in new homes for the most vulnerable, new survey reveals.

A survey of 69 housing associations, which together deliver a third of supported and sheltered homes in England, found plans to build new homes for vulnerable people are down from 8,800 to 1,350 units.

This follows months of Government indecision about how to fund supported, sheltered and extra care housing. A Green Paper, expected to detail the proposals, was due before the summer but has now been delayed until the end of Autumn.

The National Housing Federation (NHF), which carried out the survey, warned this ‘indecision’, coupled with funding cuts to support services, had left residents and housing associations with little certainty about their future income.

The housing associations that responded to the NHF survey reported that 71 new schemes, representing 2,185 homes, had been postponed, and 19 new developments, totalling 803 homes, had been cancelled.

They also warned 22 existing supported schemes and 3 sheltered schemes, amounting to 132 homes, are facing closure.

Supported housing provides a secure place for the most vulnerable, a majority of whom are older people or people with long-term disabilities, saving the taxpayer around £3.5bn in NHS costs.

The NHF estimates the five-year cumulative cost to the taxpayer of failing to make up the existing shortfall of these specialist homes is estimated at £2.72bn.

‘These findings really bring it home: changes to supported housing funding are stopping building for the most vulnerable,’ said David Orr, NHF chief executive.

‘Housing associations know first-hand that the proposed funding model will not work – a view backed by a joint select committee – and yet Government has failed to heed warnings.

‘With social care in crisis, the role supported housing plays in alleviating pressures on the NHS is ever more important. These changes have not even come in yet and they have taken 7,000 homes for vulnerable people out of the pipeline.

‘The proposed changes in funding bear no relation to the real cost of providing this type of housing. It is time Government put supported housing on a secure and sustainable footing.’

Responding to the survey’s findings, Sue Bott, deputy CEO of charity Disability Rights UK, said: ‘It is truly shocking to learn today from a survey by the National Housing Federation that housing associations are having to cut plans to build housing for older and disabled people by 85% because of Government dithering and inaction.

‘Housing is a vital component in disabled people being able to live independent lives and participate in their community.’

This follows news that a group of deaf and disabled people’s organisations (DDPOs) have submitted evidence to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which purports to show Government cuts to disability support amounts to ‘human rights violations’.

‘This survey adds to the body of evidence that has been presented to the UN committee this week examining the UK's implementation of the disability rights convention that the right of disabled people to independent living is being seriously eroded,’ continued Ms Bott.

‘Government needs to get a grip and start working for all citizens including disabled and older people.’

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