Political leaders have heard how changes to benefits could hit people living in sheltered housing during a visit to Daventry & District Housing (DDH) properties.
Daventry MP Chris Heaton-Harris and the leader of Daventry District Council, Cllr Chris Millar, met with DDH bosses at one of the organisation’s sheltered schemes – Stephenson Court in Kilsby.
DDH co-ordinated the visit to highlight the impact the Government’s proposed cap to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) benefit payments could have on supported and sheltered housing.
The National Housing Federation (NHF) anticipates that LHA cuts would make some people, including the elderly, worse off by an average of £68 a week. This means some residents may have to use other income to pay for rent or support services, which in turn could make their existing property unaffordable.
DDH wrote to local politicians in February before a Government announcement in March stated that people living in supported and sheltered housing would be exempt from the LHA cap, but only for a year while a strategic review is carried out.
After touring the Stephenson Court scheme and chatting to residents, Mr Heaton-Harris and Cllr Millar discussed the future of sheltered housing in the Daventry district with DDH Interim executive director Alan Brunt, DDH assistant director Lynn Aston and David Leathley, a sheltered housing resident and DDH board member.
Alan Brunt said: “It was fantastic that our local MP and the leader of the district council both accepted our invitation to visit one of our sheltered schemes. It meant they could see the facilities and appreciate the sense of community that has been created.
“During the visit we held positive discussions around the future of sheltered housing, the provision of accommodation for older residents and the additional services that housing associations may be able to offer.
“It was important for us to emphasise the importance of sheltered schemes and to raise concerns we have about any potential threats to their continued success, including the proposed cap to housing benefit.
“I was encouraged to hear how much our local politicians appreciate the needs of Daventry’s older residents. I’m convinced that they greatly value the role our sheltered schemes play in the local community and that can only be of benefit as we look to maintain and improve the services we provide.”
DDH owns almost 900 sheltered units at seven schemes across the Daventry district. These properties are specifically designed for people aged over 60 but some properties are let to those aged 50 and above if they have additional support needs. Residents at the schemes are encouraged to live as independently as possible.
Chris Heaton-Harris said: “It was a pleasure to spend time at Stephenson Court, meeting the residents and looking at what Daventry & District Housing offers in the way of sheltered housing in my constituency. It was fascinating to hear about the challenges and opportunities this social housing sector faces.”
Cllr Chris Millar added: “It was very encouraging to see at first hand the excellent facility that exists at Stephenson Court in Kilsby, and a real pleasure to meet a number of staff and residents.
“This is a good example of what can be achieved for those among our older population seeking independent living with support, and DDH should be rightly proud of it despite the many current challenges facing their sector.”