The eye of the storm

The uncertainty around the implementation of the LHA Cap has been around for a while now and the new government shows no sign of addressing it.

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The numbers around this issue are really scary and it’s easy to focus on what’s not going to be provided whilst ever the uncertainty lasts.

However, research by the NHF showed 156,000 existing specialist homes could potentially be lost due to financial viability – 41% of all existing schemes if the LHA Cap proposals are implemented as proposed.

Some of those schemes are in our ownership and provide support and housing for people with complex learning disabilities; the longer the uncertainty lasts the more I become concerned about the impact on those individuals and their families.

The options for them appear to be they will either need to be supported in different ways by overstretched NHS or Social Care services or, worse still, provided with no support at all.

The NHF recently reported, following a survey of 69 Housing associations, the cut in the supported housing development programme was a staggering 85% with plans to deliver just 1350 homes for those needing support.

Couple this with another recent study by Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing, published in The Lancet, estimates that by 2025 there will be an additional 353,000 people in the UK aged over 65 with substantial care needs.

The report goes on to say not all of those individuals will need care home places and puts the shortfall of care home places at 71000 by 2025.

Some of those people with lower care needs could live in Extra-Care housing if it’s available.

The planning period for an Extra Care scheme isn’t short and 2025 isn’t that far away. Demands on health and social care already mean that we are in the eye of a perfect storm.

The government is fond of looking to the market to solve problems like this but the government must acknowledge that the market alone cannot solve it.

Some of those 353,000 older people identified in the Newcastle report will be able to provide good quality accommodation and support for themselves but for those who can’t then the government needs to understand that additional subsidy allowed for in higher LHA rates for supported housing is vital.

The government’s review of supported housing is now a year overdue and we are told to expect it in the autumn.

The impact of this delay is to act as a brake on new provision and continued uncertainty for tenants in existing schemes.

If the most vulnerable in our society are to be housed and supported well both now and in the future then this needs to be resolved now so we can offer reassurance to those we already house and get building to provide for those who need it now and in the future.

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