Opinion Former

A Place to Call Home – mental health and the supported housing issue

By Brian Dow, Director of External Affairs at Rethink Mental Illness

We believe everyone should be able to live in a safe and secure home.

But the government’s proposal to introduce a cap on Housing Benefit in supported housing could risk the health and recovery of many people with a severe mental illness. It would restrict access to vital support when people need it most.

Supported housing helps people who might struggle otherwise to live independently. It can be key to people who are seeking to move from a crisis based service into the wider community and supports people’s mental health as well as their housing needs. In the most severe cases, people can need support for 24 hours a day. As part of their recovery, some 1 in 5 people diagnosed with a serious illness rely on supported housing.

Today we launch our campaign, A place to call home.

Our members and supporters are calling on the government to preserve safe, secure housing and support for people affected by severe mental illness.

This means that we need Ministers to remove the threat of any ‘one size fits all’ cap to Housing Benefit for those living in supported housing. We need a fair, robust and long-term housing deal that meets individuals’ needs.

If services are withdrawn, or become too expensive, the consequences could be devastating. Poor housing with no support will worsen mental health, may force people to move away from their local health services and community networks, and the proposals risk pushing people into debt and homelessness.

According to the National Housing Federation, some people could lose up to £68 per week towards their rent, and many services could become financially unviable.

But there is a real chance for change. The proposed cap is currently under review, and there is a clear opportunity to influence the government.

If you would like to join us to take action, please visit the campaign page and write to your MP.

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