Lord Freud: Supported housing ‘won’t be roped into Universal Credit’
Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Local Government, Universal Credit
Lord Freud exclusive: Make the poor suffer
Exempt supported accommodation “won’t be roped into Universal Credit", Lord Freud has said.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) consultation on proposed changes to housing benefit in supported housing closed last October and it is yet to respond.
Charities and support providers had feared supported housing allowance would be included in the Universal Credit system, which will see claimants receive benefits directly and where concerns have been raised about service charge eligibility and whether the draft regulations reflect the sheer range of service charge setting and collection approaches that apply in the sector
Appearing alongside work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith at the House of Commons work and pensions inquiry into Universal Credit, Lord Freud said the Government was concerned not to undermine the position of providers in supported housing and that the sector would be “treated differently” under Universal Credit.
He said: “We are very concerned not to undermine their position so we will be making sure that the supported accommodation – the structure of getting payments and the support for what their costs are – are not changed and we will look longer term at localising that support.”
He cited what he described as the most dramatic issue - a hostel looking after women fleeing domestic violence - which had caused providers concern.
He said: “That hostel is very concerned that setting up the whole Universal Credit system for them would just carve them out, particularly as their costs may be very different in structure to the normal housing costs. So we’ve heard that and we will look to a system which does not rope them into Universal Credit. We’re looking at how best to make sure that support for those hostels – and all support accommodation – is kept on an even keel.
“Either through the discretionary housing payments or even some direct payments”, Iain Duncan Smith added.
Quizzed for clarity that all supported housing would be exempt from Universal Credit, Lord Freud said: “Exempt supported accommodation will be treated differently to other housing to make sure that we do not have the problem that people have been concerned about.”