"I would urge anyone contemplating setting up a supported accommodation service to engage the services of Mark Rodgers at a very early stage"
Pye Green Christian Centre,
Supported accommodation for single men in housing crisis
Pye Green Christian Centre ran into difficulties when it opened two new supported accommodation schemes and the local authority decided the accommodation was not ‘exempt accommodation’. This meant the amount of housing benefit paid was restricted to the Local Housing Allowance. As a result, Pye Green was left with severe financial difficulties and uncertainty regarding the future of its services.
About Pye Green
Pye Green is a registered charity providing supported housing to single men in housing crisis who need accommodation and support to help them move towards independent living.
How MRA helped
Pye Green opened two supported housing schemes at two different properties. They presented the local authority with details of the schemes together with housing benefit claims for the licensees. As they were a registered charity providing support and supervision to their licensees, they claimed exemption from the Local Housing Allowance scheme on the basis they were providing supported ‘exempt accommodation’. The local authority decided that the accommodation was not ‘exempt accommodation’ because only a minimal amount (known as ‘de minimis’) of support was being provided by Pye Green to its licensees.
MR Associates entered into lengthy discussions with the local authority to resolve the ongoing disputes. Once we were clear as to the specific issues raised by the authority, we advised Pye Green on the evidence they would need to provide. The advice centred on (1) demonstrating how they provided more than minimal support to their licensees, and (2) properly assessing their housing management, intensive housing management and support charges. We assisted them in conducting an extensive review of their support records, holding discussions with staff and helping them to narrate in a clear manner the support they provided. This was provided to the local authority with a request that it revise its decision.
Pye Green had attempted to deal directly with the authority regarding the housing benefit disputes. It had entered into protracted correspondence with the authority and attended meetings to try to resolve the issues, without success. Pye Green contacted MR Associates when they recognised the need for benefit specialists who could assist them with their complex housing benefit issues.
The specific challenge MRA had was collating and identifying all the evidence Pye Green has regarding support and supervision services to licensees. This was a mammoth task that involved an analysis of voluminous amounts of documentation and extracting the relevant entries that identified the support that had been delivered.
Once MRA had submitted the additional evidence, the authority accepted that Pye Green was providing ‘exempt accommodation’ and revised its decision to that effect. As a result, Pye Green has been able to continue to meet the needs of some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable adults within its area.
Having spent many frustrating months and much time applying for exempt accommodation for our supported housing project, we engaged the services of MR Associates. I have been extremely impressed by the professionalism, knowledge and passion which Mark Rodgers and Julia Austin bring to the complex fields of supported accommodation and housing benefits. Their prompt and friendly support has been invaluable. I would strongly urge anyone contemplating setting up a housing support service to engage the services of Mark Rodgers at a very early stage: this would have saved us much time and made the process more straightforward. In addition, the financial benefits which will accrue will enable our supported housing to develop more effectively and put it on a sound financial basis, making the cost of MR Associates’ professional support very worthwhile.