The Tories today finally admitted they were wrong and abandoned Universal Credit…
Absolutely brilliant news, fanbloodytastic news in fact, but let me finish that opening sentence “The Tories today finally admitted they were wrong and abandoned Universal Credit … for supported housing only.”
Universal Credit rolls six existing social security benefits into one and one legacy benefit is Housing Benefit. Yet when the ideological policy wonks dreamed up and designed UC they completely forgot that Housing Benefit was paid to residents in supported housing units such as emergency housing (homeless hostels, refuges etc) and to supported living services (housing for those with mental health and disabilities) and for sheltered housing.
All of these services come under the term “supported housing” and the Tories when they designed UC totally and one hundred per cent FORGOT about this and by consequence (a) they are not mentioned in any UC regulations; (b) the Tories realised this AFTER UC was developed, agreed and passed parliamentary scrutiny; and (c) ever since July 2011 when they released a consultation paper on the issue the Tories have proposed fudge after fudge and impractical fudge upon impractical fudge in order to cover up the fact that they were so incompetent in totally forgetting about the payment of housing costs in supported housing.
The announcement today during the summer parliamentary recess is as politically sneaky as it gets but it is finally an admission of incompetence by them and it is, more importantly, the right thing to do.
There is no detail as yet except a vague announcement in the housing press here and there is as I write no formal announcement on any government website and as always the devil will be in the detail. So, while I am very welcoming indeed to this announcement it has to be a cautious welcome given the lack of detail and the hundreds of supported housing providers who have been my clients for the past 17 years should not be popping the champagne corks just yet.
It does appear that the key funding stream of Housing Benefit has been secured and the chronic financial uncertainty the past 7 years has given ALL supported housing providers and directly because of Tory policy incompetence is over as the Tories have finally admitted to themselves that they were incompetent and chronically negligent in the first place in forgetting about supported housing and its HB funding.
In summary, supported housing providers can feel far more confident about existing and future services they manage across the UK as this can only be a DWP decision in the payment of Housing Benefit and not a housing one and thus effective across Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as England and that is seriously good news. Yet the devil is always in the detail and of course we still have the complex mess of the support funding streams and which still remain as localised housing decisions not central government policy ones … so lots more still to come but for one day at least supported housing providers and the many hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people they house and support can afford a smile.