Thursday, 19 January 2017

Abuse report author issues LHA cap warning

The author of a key report into abuse of people with learning disabilities has urged the government to “explicitly exempt” residents of supported housing from a proposed benefits cap.

Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, made the call in a follow-up to his 2014 inquiry into the abuse uncovered at Winterbourne View hospital.

He added: “Anything short of this will put at risk hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people, including individuals with learning disabilities and/or autism.”

Last month the Housing and Support Alliance wrote to housing minister Brandon Lewis, warning plans to rehouse people with learning difficulties would be jeopardised if benefits are capped at Local Housing Allowance in supported housing.

The Department for Work and Pensions is currently reviewing whether the policy should apply to supported housing, and will announce a decision in March.

The Winterbourne View inquiry, conducted by Sir Stephen, was launched following a scandal in 2011, which unveiled the abuse of disabled people in Winterbourne View hospital.

It recommended allowing people with autism to live independently or with friends and family.

In the follow-up to his report, published today, he said: “All indications point to a need for increased housing supply.

“Housing options are various. Not everyone leaving an assessment and treatment unit will find themselves living in a flat by themselves and carers.

“But not everyone will need to move into smaller residential units either. The more options, the more choice for individuals and the more community-based flexibility there can be.”

The report said the average annual cost of residential care in the community for adults with autism and complex needs is just under £112,000, compared to around £175,000 a year for placing someone in a hospital.

But it also warned the cost of developing comprehensive housing options would be “high”.

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