Changes to housing benefit could leave vulnerable unable to pay rent, NHF warns

Planned changes to housing benefit could leave thousands of residents who rely on specialist housing unable to afford their rent, the National Housing Federation (NHF) has warned.

The NHF has warned that many schemes such as women’s refuges, specialist dementia accommodation and veterans’ services, that provide additional support for vulnerable residents, will be forced to close under changes to housing benefit due to come into affect in April.

Many schemes are already on hold and the NHF, along with Age UK, Mencap and Women’s Aid, has called on the government to confirm that this new cap will not apply to people who require this extra support.

Figures from the NHF suggests that up to 82,000 specialist homes could become unviable and forced to close, as residents will no longer be able to afford the higher rents and service charges that are often covered by housing benefit.

David Orr, chief executive of the NHF, said: “We are urgently seeking clarity from government: will this cap apply to those who are, by definition, the most in need of extra help?

“If this cap applies to specialist housing, tens of thousands of vulnerable people will be unable to afford the cost of their home and care. Huge numbers of people will be affected from older people and dementia patients, to disabled people and women fleeing domestic violence – they cannot go without specialist care and support.

“With building on new homes grinding to a halt, pipeline plans scrapped and schemes already preparing to shut up shop, this matter can no longer go unresolved.”