Mental Health News
Rethink Mental Illness has published new research showing that Government plans to cap benefits for those in supported housing fall short of the actual cost of this housing, and will leave many people struggling to afford it.
Supported housing is designed to help vulnerable people live as independently as possible. This includes older people, people with a learning disability and people with mental illness, who might otherwise be living in hospitals or care homes.
The new report, Mental Health Supported Housing: Securing financial stability, supply and quality, looks specifically at housing for people living with mental illness and how this is funded.
The Government set out a plan to cap housing benefit at the same rate as the lowest rents in the private rented sector. A review, commissioned by Department of Work and Pensions officials, suggested average housing costs which are now shown to be far lower than the real costs of this type of provision.
In some cases the Government’s estimates were £80 a week lower than the real cost. Potentially, this creates a significant shortfall for those in need of the highest levels of support and would leave many reliant on a local ‘top up’ fund administered by hard-pressed local authorities.
The report argues that wider Government plans to improve mental health and bring standards of care up are being undermined by these proposed cuts that could leave some of the most vulnerable people without housing, severely impacting their health.
The research concludes that the Government must drop this proposed cap as soon as possible and work with people who live in and run supported housing to find a funding model that’s fit for purpose. Brian Dow, Director of External Affairs at Rethink Mental Illness, said:
“Supported housing is key to achieving the very welcome ambitions the Government have around parity of esteem. It is a hugely valuable and cost effective option for people with mental illness.
The future of supported housing is in serious doubt because of Government plans to radically change how it’s funded. Our new research demonstrates that under existing plans, those with the highest support plans will no longer have the guarantee of their rent being met by housing benefit. This could spell disaster for people with mental illness and the pubic services that support them.
As a matter of urgency, we are calling on the Government to rule out its cap on housing benefit as soon as possible and commit to working with the sector to find an alternative funding system.”
The report, by Rethink Mental Illness was produced in association with HACT and the Centre for Mental Health and supported by the Association of Mental Health Providers (formerly the MHPF), can be found here.
For more information please contact Clare Keeling at Rethink Mental Illness – firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 840 3128
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