Housing and Planning Bill

Written evidence submitted by a carer of a secure housing association tenant in London (HPB 91)

Housing & Planning Bill Committee

1.Thank you for your invitation to submit evidence to the Housing and Planning Bill committee. I wish to comment only on Pay to Stay (P2S). I am the principal carer for a 68 year old man who has been a secure tenant in central London for 46 years. I have his permission to submit this written evidence to committee but I have deleted his name and address from supporting documentation.

2. There was not any income stipulation when he was offered the flat. The person for whom I care is now severely disabled and chronically sick. He was diagnosed with a crippling, degenerative illness at the age of 17, but worked all his life. Immediately after retirement he contracted cancer and underwent three episodes of major surgery that nearly killed him but were only partially successful, leaving him with further problems with which to cope. He now has a myriad of conditions. It is distressing, draining and painful for him, such that he now requires two carers, so that we can look after him virtually 24/7.

3. He worked very hard despite his medical problems and finished his career as a business unit manager with 204 staff spread over seven locations. His business won many quality excellence awards and was recognised as one of the best in its sector. I have been his carer for many years even when he was at work. I would see him come home from work, often very late at night, shattered and needing general help around the house as well as care for his condition. He chose to stay in his flat in central London as it was close to his job and, through his hard work, built up a pension, which, in normal circumstances would be adequate. Now, however, because, at his income level, he does not receive help from the council, his pension is mostly spent on his carers and supplies which the NHS is unable to provide. Pay to Stay takes no account of these personal circumstances and does not recognise that, though his gross income will be just about £40k in 2017, more than half of that goes on his carers. I deal with all aspects of his life now, including his finances, and I know that, even though he is no longer able to pay to his carers the "going rate", he is left, after tax, on a four figure income which is at poverty level. This is a problem that is bound to be faced by hundreds of disabled people at this income level.

4. Pay to Stay is such a blunt instrument, the purpose of which is hard to understand. The flat is not subsidised, as shown by written evidence (attached) from the landlord, but is owned by a famous property firm, which has leased the block to a Housing Association, presumably to avoid Mrs Thatcher’s Right to Buy initiative. The flat is not subsidised – in fact, after 46 years of rent, it has probably been bought more than once.

5. The effect of Pay to Stay will be to consign my client to a hospital bed within hours of the carers’ leaving. He will then block that vital NHS bed, when he could continue to live a relatively independent life with excellent, appropriate help on hand without any drain on the state, as my client would prefer. But the worry of this bill and the ill-informed comments and speculation only serve to make my client worry and that, in turn, affects his continually deteriorating health.

6. It can be seen from the letter from the landlord that the Housing Association "does not receive any subsidy for secure tenancies." It "does not have any other subsidies or sources to help manage its secure tenancies" It goes on "No taxpayer funded subsidies are currently being received." It follows, therefore, that far from renting a flat that is subsidised by other working people, after 46 years of paying rent on his flat, the person for whom I am the carer is, in fact, subsidising other parts of the HA’s business i.e. "community programmes" and "to subsidise the shortfall in rent from new social homes built", as the letter also indicates. Since the policy stems from the Chancellor’s claim that "‘It’s not fair that families earning over £40,000 in London, or £30,000 elsewhere, should have their rents subsidised by other working people,’ it follows that he should be exempt from Pay to Stay as, after 46 years of paying rent, his flat is not subsidised. In fact, it never has been, deriving, as it does, from one of the wealthiest property magnates in the country. (APPENDIX 1) [1]

7. Disabled and elderly people should be exempt from this Bill. In general, they just want to see out the rest of their time without major encumbrances, such as Pay to Stay.

8. Please consider exempting elderly and disabled, vulnerable people from Pay to Stay or, at the very least, introduce a massive increase in the thresholds to £60K, outside London and parts of the South East, and £70K inside London. It would also help if this subject did not crop up every year, but that vulnerable people can have it settled once and for all, giving them some stability and freedom from worry for the remainder of their lives.

Thank you.

November 2015

[1] Not published.

Prepared 26th November 2015