After months of lobbying on the issue, a major coalition of learning disability providers along with a leading not-for-profit providers group have welcomed an announcement made by the Government on Tuesday 31st October to protect current levels of housing benefit for people with learning disabilities and others living in supported housing.

The announcement followed a previous Government decision to limit the amount of housing benefit that many disabled people could receive to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) levels.

As many disabled people, including the vast majority of people with learning disabilities, rely on enhanced levels of housing benefit to meet their supported housing needs, this was a matter of huge concern for the sector. It not only raised fears about the ability of vulnerable people to pay their rent, but also the negative effect that such uncertainty would have on the development of future supported housing stock.

Learning Disability Voices and the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) were among the organisations which responded to the Government’s consultation on the matter earlier this year and addressed the issue directly with the Minister for Local Government, Marcus Jones MP, at a meeting last week.

Matthew Flinton, co-chair of Learning Disability Voices and Director of Operations at Voyage Care, said:

“We are pleased to see that the Government has taken on board the concerns of the sector. Providing people with learning disabilities with access to high quality, affordable housing is key to ensuring that the Government is able to meet its commitments to vulnerable people and their families under the transforming care agenda. Yesterday’s announcement will help to allay fears and restore confidence in the supported housing market.

Tim Cooper, co-chair of Learning Disability Voices and CEO of United Response, said:

“The detail of some of the proposals made in yesterday’s announcement are still yet to be worked out, but this is a very positive start. Learning Disability Voices looks forward to continuing to work with officials to guarantee a smooth transition for people with learning disabilities from housing benefit to universal credit and to ensure that all supported housing is of the highest standard possible.”

Rhidian Hughes, CEO of VODG, concluded:

“These are welcome steps towards improving the housing options available to disabled people. We encourage Government to continue to listen and engage with the sector as it plans the next stages of policy implementation.”