Warning on benefit cap given by Peterborough’s largest housing association

Cross Keys HomesENGEMN00120130619150708
Cross Keys HomesENGEMN00120130619150708
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The capping of housing benefit could in the future impact the service given to elderly people in social housing, Peterborough’s largest housing association is warning.

Cross Keys Homes claims the cap could affect the service it provides for its 1,320 sheltered housing residents in the future, but it stressed it had no plans to close any of its sheltered housing including the the award-winning Kingfisher Court.

But eventually residents might have to find the difference for the rent money which will be lost by the cap.

Government policy will see housing benefit in the social sector capped in line with private rental accommodation from April 2018.

But a one per cent reduction to rents in the social housing sector comes into effect in April 2016, albeit with a deferment for people in supported accommodation.

Cross Keys chief executive Claire Higgins said: “I am really proud of the work we do to house and support our older residents. But these services do not come cheap.

“The capping of rents and therefore housing benefit on these homes will, I fear, affect the level of support we will realistically be able to afford.

“So I am joining with the National Housing Federation and so many other housing providers to call for the cap to be restricted to working age people in general needs homes.

“Then at least I will know that the fantastic services we provide to our most frail and vulnerable residents will be safe.”

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said: “The government has agreed not to include supported housing in its benefits cap for a year, whilst it does a proper study of and impact assessment of the policy and the range of supported and assisted living, a compromise I welcome.

“However, more widely, government was elected on a manifesto to reduce welfare dependency and it can’t be right for working families to be paying taxes to subsidise those who don’t work via housing benefit - the bill for which has exploded in the last 10 years. That policy is strongly supported by my constituents.”

Discussing the housing benefit cap, a spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “This is unnecessary scaremongering which does nothing to help those it purports to represent.

“The truth is that nothing will change until 2018.

“We value the work of the supported housing sector extremely highly and are working closely with them to ensure they are supported as effectively as possible in advance of the policy taking effect.

“We are also providing local authorities with £870m over the course of this parliament precisely so that they can support people in their communities who need time to adapt to reforms.”