The Leader of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, Councillor Bob Cook, has welcomed the announcement that the Government is dropping plans to cap housing benefit for elderly and vulnerable people in supported accommodation.
Following a Council motion agreed last month, Councillor Cook wrote to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, David Gauke, expressing the Council’s strong opposition to the plans and calling on him to reconsider.
And yesterday, the Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the Government is scrapping the plans, which would have capped housing benefit for all social housing tenants in line with the private rented sector.
Councillor Cook said: “It’s the right decision. Be in no doubt – the effects of this cap would have had a disastrous impact on some of the most vulnerable people in the Borough, which is why we felt so strongly that we had to challenge it.
“It would have caused severe financial difficulties, with some residents in supported housing facing a budget gap of more than £5,000 a year. In the worst cases it would have forced people from their homes.
“Landlords like Thirteen were stating very clearly that people’s inability to pay would cost them more than £3million a year in lost income, jeopardising the future of brilliant schemes like Winford House in Billingham and Acorn House in Thornaby.
“And nationally, we’ve seen 85 per cent of planned developments for this kind of much-needed accommodation scrapped or put on hold amid huge concerns around their viability. If that’s not a sign that the plans were flawed, I don’t know what is.
“As a Council that places great emphasis on protecting our most vulnerable residents, we welcome this move and await with interest the announcement of the Government’s revised policy next week.”