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Scottish landlord body welcomes call to scrap use of LHA to fund supported housing

A House of Commons report calling on the Government to scrap the use of LHA rates to fund supported housing has been welcomed by social landlords in Scotland.

A joint report from two select committees of MPs – the Communities & Local Government and the Work & Pensions committees – published at the beginning of May. It urged plans to base rent allowances for supported housing tenants on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates be ditched.

The call has since been welcomed by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), which gave evidence to the joint inquiry into the ‘Future of Supported Housing’ in February this year.

The LHA cap limits the amount of support that can be given for housing costs to 30% of the market rent in the locality (Broad Market Rental Area), but rents in supported housing are higher than local norms because of the specialised support they fund.

In its evidence, the SFHA highlighted that Local Housing Allowance, which is based on market rental costs for general needs housing, was an unsatisfactory way to fund these much needed homes, as the system had no regard for the cost of providing such additional services and facilities needed to enable tenants to lead full and independent lives.

The report states: “We propose the Government introduces a Supported Housing Allowance, banded to reflect the diversity of provision in the sector and sufficient to ensure supported housing tenants will only require recourse to top-up funding in exceptional circumstances.”

Sarah Boyack, the SFHA’s head of public affairs, said: “We warmly welcome this report and its recognition of the huge cost savings that supported housing offers when compared to hospital and institutional care.

“The content and tone of the report reflect the very grave concerns that the SFHA and other witnesses shared during the evidence session.

“The recommendations are both sensible and achievable, and we back the committees’ call on the UK Government to take this opportunity to pause, take heed of the expert evidence and rethink its plans for funding supported housing in the future.”

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