Concerns over Government's new shared home ownership rules
Release Date: 11 November 2010
One of the country’s leading learning disability charities, the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, has raised serious concerns that recent Government changes to the benefit system will make it practically impossible for people with long-term disabilities to become shared home-owners. Furthermore, those who already part-own properties could be at risk of losing their homes.
The Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) benefit helped people with long-term disabilities take up shared ownership of property as a way of living more independently, whilst reducing demand for residential care services. However, recent changes to SMI benefit and to Financial Services Authority (FSA) rules for mortgage lenders mean that there is a growing gap between the rate mortgage lenders will loan at and what the SMI benefit will pay for.
Alison Giraud-Saunders, Co-Director of theFoundation for People with Learning Disabilities commented:
“The changes to SMI benefit and the FSA rules on mortgages slipped by almost unnoticed when they were first introduced by the Coalition, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that they are having a severe impact on the lives of some of the most disabled individuals in society, such as people with learning disabilities.
“The combined rule changes mean that a disabled person could end up having to pay anything from £92 to £264 more every month from their fixed disability benefits. These fixed benefits are primarily intended to cover the extra costs of disability, such as personal care, laundry, heating and transport, and many people with learning disabilities in particular cannot afford to bridge this shortfall.
“The previous rules meant that a disabled person could choose to live in a property that really met their needs, allowing them greater independence. These changes could seriously jeopardise this independence and personalised approach to care and support.
“Although the Government could save a considerable amount of money in the short term, the long term cost will be far more substantial should these changes force people with learning disabilities to move back in to residential care services. We are therefore urging the Coalition to revise these measures: we want them to keep their promise that the spending cuts will protect the most vulnerable in society, and not marginalise them.”
If you have any queries relating to the comments, or would like to interview Alison Giraud-Saunders, please contact Lisa Gilbert on 020 7803 1185 / email@example.com.