Housing Benefit & Supported Housing

HB & Supported Accommodation For Local Authority Staff: Key Issues For Local Authorities

Leeds -  Date TBC for September / October 

City Centre Venue.


London -   Date TBC for September / October 

Kingsley Holborn Thistle Hotel.     

(Near The British Museum)

  

This huge and complex topic generates an ever-increasing amount of enquiries in Zebra’s Post-box and on discussion forums. This Workshop provides an overview of supported accommodation and then deals in depth with four frequently recurring key issues that are raised: 

· Registered housing associations: Rent Officer referral, rent restrictions, subsidy;

· Lease charges payable to property owners;

· The landlord’s support role alongside a commissioned care provider in “supported living” schemes;

· And following on from the third issue above, identifying the eligible and ineligible proportions of staff costs.

  

There are many reasons for the surge in HB claims for supported accommodation, including:

· The “transforming care” agenda which seeks to provide community-based alternatives to long term hospital and residential care for vulnerable people, especially those with learning disabilities;

· Avoiding Universal Credit – there is a perception among accommodation providers that HB provides a better service and often a higher rate of benefit;

· A growing property investment industry, actively promoted by advisers and consultants, in which property owners seek rent yields above general needs market rates.


For this Workshop we have distilled the topic down to four sub-topics that feature frequently in our postbag, appeals case work and on discussion forums’.


We begin with the issues that arise with registered housing associations, including:

· When should Housing Association tenancies be referred to the Rent Officer?

· What are the consequences of referral in terns of both HB eligible rent and government subsidy?

· What mechanisms exist to control excessive HA rents – for example, does the LHA ever apply to a registered Housing Association?


One of the main reasons for the very high rents observed in many supported housing schemes is the rent payable by the claimant’s landlord to its own superior landlord – the property owner from whom the accommodation is leased. We will analyse the way in which lease charges are structured including:

· Reasonable development costs;

· The sourcing of finance;

· Rent yields and property valuations;

· The stakeholders involved in a supported accommodation development: Developer, finance provider, special purpose company, final owner, housing association, care provider, social care Commissioners.


If the Council is inclined to restrict HB because of the lease charge, how should the case be backed up: what kind of evidence is needed? How do the HB Regulations enable restrictions?


Most of the enquiries we receive at Zebra Training involve “supported living” where a non-profit body is the claimant’s landlord while a separate (usually for-profit) organisation is commissioned to provide very extensive personal care and support. The landlord typically claims to have a niche complementary support role alongside the commissioned provider. How do we judge whether this is the case? What kind of evidence will show whether the landlord does indeed support the tenants, and what form does that support take?


This leads us onto the final topic chosen for detailed analysis in this Workshop. The landlord will often say that its support role takes the form of intensive housing management – a higher staffing ratio than in general needs accommodation. Surely, then, the service charge that funds these higher staffing costs must be at least partly ineligible for HB? But identifying where property management crosses the line into personal support is not easy. Is it even possible for intensive management to be support and not support at the same time? “They all want to be exempt, but they don’t want anything to be ineligible” as one of our delegates nicely summed it up!  We will also look at the most recent Upper Tribunal decisions on this subject.


Programme Timetable

  9.30    Arrivals and coffee/tea

  9.45    Introductions and course overview 

11.15    Coffee/tea break    

  1:00    Lunch break    

  3.15    Tea/coffee break    

  4.30    Workshop ends


In-House Workshop Required?

We are always pleased to arrange most of our Workshops, such as this one, for staff from an individual organisation to be held at their own training venue. Please email us with your requirements for details.