Thursday, 19 January 2017

Peers set to impose 1% rent cut exemption

Peers are poised to amend the Welfare Reform and Work Bill to exempt supported housing from the 1% rent cut.

The bill is currently being debated in the House of Lords, with the rent cut due to be discussed late tomorrow evening.

It is understood crossbench, Labour and Liberal Democrat peers are prepared to push through an exemption if the government does not provide one ahead of the debate.

The Lords will introduce an amendment covering ‘specified accommodation’ should ministers decline to produce their own exemption, it is believed.

The National Housing Federation (NHF) has been pushing for an exemption for supported housing from the 1% cut since the policy was first announced in the summer.

An amendment introduced by Labour at report stage in the House of Commons was not supported by the government and withdrawn.

The 1% rent cut is a separate policy from the cap on benefits at Local Housing Allowance (LHA) levels, which is predicted to have “catastrophic” consequences for supported housing.

The rent reduction is also expected to have a larger impact on supported housing than general needs because it is more reliant on rents to cover its higher running costs.

NHF research on capping benefits at LHA levels, published this morning, showed 41% of schemes could be closed by that policy.

It is urgently lobbying for that policy to be limited to general needs housing only to avoid this impact.

The government is expected to respond to these calls at an opposition day debate called by Labour tomorrow afternoon.

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