Around 30% of women who flee domestic violence and abuse have no children and are under 35 years of age.
Under this governments Local Housing Allowance (LHA) maxima policy they will receive between £45 per week in housing benefit in Sunderland and £136.52 in central London – and the refuge rent will be £300+ per week.
Those two facts are why one hundred per cent of refuges will close.
Today, finally, sees Women’s Aid go public on this issue that I detailed in December 2015 (here, here, here) and first raised in August 2011 when the same LHA maxima policy was first raised by the Tories in a consultation paper.
I remember it well as the consultation paper to limit all supported housing to the private housing benefit rate – the LHA maxima – was the reason I started blogging back in July 2011. As I said then it would cut funding by 65% to the 17 refuges I advised at that time and that was the actual figure based on actual cost of refuge rents 5 years ago.
In the article today in the Guardian it says that 67% of refuges will close. It will be 100%. It also says some refuges will only receive £60 per week in HB. They won’t it will be £45 per week as a minimum and £136.52 as a maximum. The report repeats the usual DWP anonymised spokesperson lying:
“We fully support the valuable work carried out by domestic abuse refuges and other supported accommodation providers. That is why we deferred this measure for this sector while we conduct a review to ensure it is sustainable in the long term. We will continue working with providers to ensure the right protections are in place and will set out our plans in the autumn.”
The DWP claim they are waiting for a review to complete and claim not to know the impacts of this LHA maxima policy. That is a lie. The DWP trot out this lie time after time whether it concerns DV refuges or homeless hostels or supported housing for mental health and learning disabilities or for sheltered housing. – The DWP has known these impacts since it received consultation responses back in September 2011 and that is five years ago.
The same DWP personnel including Lord Freud were there then and there now and there can be no doubt whatsoever that he as DWP minister and all other DWP personnel know full well what the impacts of this policy are.
There is also no doubt that Theresa May knows full well that the LHA maxima policy will close all refuges as she set up the Violence Against Women & Girls (VAWG) department at the Home Office – a project and sub-department that promotes the work of domestic violence and abuse agencies.
This is the same LHA maxima that will close all sheltered housing in many parts of the country too and all single homeless hostels and close them all very quickly too … and yes I have been saying this for those services too since the day this policy resurfaced back in November 2015 just as I was saying the same back in July 2011 when this ideological nonsense was first raised. Here’s that consultation paper:
The above consultation paper was actually better than the existing policy as it also had options to pay £20 and £40 per week above the LHA (maxima) rate yet this consultation’s responses back in October 2011 were so bad that the DWP never even bothered to issue a consultation response – they simply dropped the proposal like the hottest of hot potatoes!
The same neglect of this issue and DWP lie and blatant and knowing lie that they do not know the impacts of the LHA maxima policy can be found in the pitiful challenges to the policy from the National Housing Federation with there #startsathome policy that also fails to mention the DWP know full well what the impacts are.
At least Women’s Aid has realised that the general public needs to know that refuges will be closed and targets them in order to pressurise government on this issue! Meanwhile the UK’s social housing sector continues to FAIL to say to the general public that other hugely politically sensitive services such as sheltered housing will close and misses their greatest weapon against this policy – the voter!
Then again I note that the Labour Party’s Shadow CLG minister Grahame Morris in Inside Housing here also does not have a clue about any of the above as he too is wholly ignorant that the DWP knew the impact of this policy from September 2011 and have known the impacts for FIVE YEARS!.
However THE most important issue here is that Theresa May must know that her government’s LHA maxima policy will close ALL domestic violence and abuse refuges. She also set up the VAWG department at the Home Office revealing her keen personal interest in this area.
Yet the two opening facts I started with over (a) the maximum amount of housing benefit and (b) that 30%+ of women who enter refuges are under 35 and childless is all ANYONE needs to know to realise that the Tory LHA maxima policy will close ALL refuges right across the country.
UPDATE: Let me make this so simple that anyone can understand!
Typically, DV refuge rents of £270 per week in the regions and £350 in London
Below is the maximum housing benefit from the official DWP site that the woman fleeing domestic violence and abuse will receive in Sunderland and in Central London as the maximum amount of housing benefit:
In Sunderland even if the women flees with up to 6 children and qualifies for the 4 bedroom rate of £138.08 per week as the maximum housing benefit she will still have to find a further £132 per week to top up the refuge rent!
In Central London only a women with enough children to qualify for the 3 bed LHA rate of £354.46 will have her £350 pw refuge rent paid and refuges will only be able to afford to accept a women with at least two and more likely three children. The childless woman and the women with one child or two children cannot afford to flee domestic violence and abuse in Central London.
If as Women’s Aid say only 67% will close it means that the other 33% will only be able to take a women fleeing domestic violence and abuse if she has 3 children!
ALL refuges will close not the 67% nonsense and many more women will die as a result of the Tories LHA maxima policy.
Is that simple enough for you?!
Here’s some more LHA rates from every part of the country (NI excepted) so anyone care to tell me where any refuge can survive financially?
By the way, given it is as rare as hen’s teeth for any child over 16 to be admitted to a refuge then to qualify for the 4 bed rate of LHA that may just about cover the rent in Maidstone or Eastbourne or Basildon (SW Essex above) then the woman fleeing will need to have fled with at least 5 children … and not forgetting that any household smaller than this will not get their rent paid at a refuge …
Where is this 33% Women’s Aid that you claim will NOT be affected by the LHA maxima policy? That is 50% more than you say will be affected!?
Refuge – the other main DV charity and who do have a much better grasp of refuge provision as they actually run refuge unlike Women’s Aid – tweeted this today:
Yes £52 per night is £364 per week … go figure …and anyone got some wipes for that blood all over Theresa May’s hands over this?