Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Housing benefit changes may harm independence, charities warns

Proposed changes to housing benefit may lead to disabled people having to seek cheaper accommodation away from their support networks, Mencap has claimed.

The charity is also concerned that reducing housing benefit for people on jobseeker’s allowance for more than one year will hit disabled people hardest.

David Congdon, Mencap’s head of policy and campaigns, said: “The committee has acknowledged there are barriers for people with a disability entering employment. The government must now address our concerns that reducing housing benefit for people on job seekers allowance for more than one year may disproportionately affect people with a disability because they find it harder to get a job. “The committee has also recognised that people renting in the private sector may have to move to cheaper areas and cheaper properties. This means people with a learning disability may have to move away from their families and support networks, which will make it more difficult for them to live independently.”

Housing changes for people with a learning disability

The proposed changes were part of the coalition government’s June budget and include:

  • Restricting the maximum benefit entitlement to the four-bedroom rate from April 2011
  • Capping maximum local housing allowance (LHA) weekly rates at £250 for a shared room and one-bedroom property, £290 for a two-bedroom property, £340 (three bedrooms) and £400 (four bedrooms), from April 2011
  • Setting LHA rates based on the 30th percentile of private sector rents, rather than the median or 50th percentile, from October 2011
  • Removing the provision for claimants to retain a maximum of up to £15 per week, in cases where their contractual rent is below the LHA rate, from April 2011, as announced by the previous government
  • From April 2013 LHA rates will be uprated based on the consumer price index, rather than on the basis of local rents.

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