Living in Supported Housing
Supported housing is any housing scheme where housing, support and sometimes care services are provided as an integrated package.
Some schemes are long-term, designed for people who need ongoing support to live independently. Others are short-term, designed to help people develop the emotional and practical skills needed to move into more mainstream housing.
This can include support with health needs, including mental health, drug and alcohol use, managing benefits and debt, developing daily living skills and accessing education, training and employment.
If you live in supported housing, you might find that you need to claim Housing Benefit for help with your rent rather than getting a Housing Costs Element included in your Universal Credit award.
This is the case where, due to the type of supported housing you live in and the care and support you receive, you are considered to be living in ‘specified accommodation’.
What is ‘specified accommodation’?
The rules on which supported housing falls under the definition of ‘specified accommodation’ are quite complex.
In very simple terms it is:
- Accommodation provided by a housing association, registered charity or not-for-profit voluntary organisation, where you are given ‘care, support or supervision’ to a more than minimal degree.
- Accommodation in a refuge provided by a local authority, a housing association, registered charity or not-for-profit voluntary organisation because you have left home as a result of domestic violence.
- A local authority hostel, where you share some facilities and receive care, support or supervision.
Nabeel lives in a supported housing scheme for people with physical disabilities. It is run by a Housing Association who contract a specialist care agency to provide him with care and support for 3 hours a day.
Nabeel’s savings have dropped so he needs to claim Universal Credit. He ticks the box on the form to say that he lives in supported housing.
He also claims Housing Benefit, which is paid to help towards his rent and service charges, because the supported housing scheme counts as ‘specified accommodation’.
There is no Housing Costs Element in his Universal Credit.
Mo lives in a scheme for young people with learning difficulties. The scheme is run by a registered charity who provide support and supervision for a minimum of 7 hours a week but sometimes more. It counts as ‘specified accommodation’ so Mo gets no Housing Costs Element in his Universal Credit – he claims Housing Benefit instead.
Katie normally lives in a 2 bed flat with her husband and 2 year old son. They get Universal Credit there, with a Housing Costs Element included in the assessment.
But her husband has started being violent towards her and she wants to end the relationship. She sought advice and so the Council have moved her temporarily into accommodation in a local Domestic Violence refuge.
She tells the DWP about her change in circumstances. They separate her claim from her husband’s and continue her award as a lone parent.
As the refuge counts as ‘specified accommodation’, she will not receive help for her rent from Universal Credit. Instead, she will need to make a new claim for Housing Benefit.
Who makes the decision about whether I live in ‘specified accommodation’?
It is the Local Authority’s Housing Benefit Office that decides whether or not you live in ‘specified accommodation’.
If you claim Housing Benefit, they will make a decision by looking at the type of accommodation you live in, why you live there and any care/support you receive.
The rules on which supported housing falls under the definition of ‘specified accommodation’ are quite complex. If you are not sure whether you live in ‘specified accommodation’ or not – ask your landlord, or contact a Benefits Adviser for help.
What if I claim Housing Benefit and they say I’m not in ‘specified accommodation’ – but Universal Credit won’t include a Housing Costs Element because they think I should be getting Housing Benefit?
Contact a Benefits Adviser they can give you a letter to send to the Housing Benefit Office asking them to revise their decision if appropriate, and a letter / wording for your journal for the DWP about your Universal Credit.