Alex Cunningham has joined fellow Labour MPs in calling for a halt to Conservative plans to cut Housing Benefit support for thousands of elderly and vulnerable people across the country, which could put 1,032 homes across the Stockton borough at risk.
Supported housing provides specialist care for groups including the elderly, the homeless, disabled people, veterans, people with mental health problems, young people leaving care and women fleeing domestic violence.
Experts say that, across the country, as many as 156,000 supported homes are at risk of closure due to the Chancellor’s cuts. And the Stockton North MP joined calls in Parliament for George Osborne to exempt supported housing from his Housing Benefit cuts and to consult with charities, councils and housing associations to safeguard this vital accommodation.
Conservative MPs voted down Labour’s motion to protect these homes.
“The Government’s planned cuts to Housing Benefit support for vulnerable people in specialist housing will risk the widespread closure of this vital accommodation across the country. It is estimated that 811 housing units for elderly folk, and 221 supported spaces could be lost across the Stockton borough alone, along with thousands more across the wider Tees Valley.
“Supported housing has already suffered as a result of Government spending cuts and policy decisions, and there is clear evidence that proposals to mitigate these further cuts with discretionary housing payments will not work.
“It is high time that the Government opened its eyes to this threat and urgently exempted supported housing from these cuts.”
John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Housing, said: “George Osborne’s crude cuts to Housing Benefit could force the closure of thousands of specialist homes for vulnerable people across the country. This would be a catastrophe for those who can least afford it, and there is no way these people or the organisations who support them could make up the yawning shortfall these cuts are set to open up.
“Labour is calling on the Chancellor to urgently exempt supported housing from his housing benefit cuts and consult fully with the organisations that provide this vital accommodation.”