Welfare and Work Bill Committee

Written evidence submitted by Le Personne Benevolent Trust (WRW 31)

Le Personne Benevolent Trust is a small Almshouse Charity providing accommodation for 43 needy elderly single women in Caterham, Surrey. It has an annual rental income of £200,000. The Charity’s total reserves represent less than 9 months of its total annual turnover. 97% of the Charity’s income is provided by its Residents from rent and service charges.

The Charity is a Registered Provider of Social Housing as a result of it receiving government grants to improve the accommodation. To supplement these grants the charity has borrowed over £1million to fund the improvements. The security of its future rental income, based as it was on the Governments Fairer Rent Regime formula, was a significant factor in securing the loans.

The rent restrictions contained in the Bill will remove £300,000 of income from the Charity over the next 10 years. During the same period, a further £200,000 will be lost as a result of the demise of the supporting people funding programme for sheltered housing.

The premise that this loss of income can be offset by reductions in the operating costs of Housing Associations may apply to large Registered Providers. However, not all Registered Providers are large organisations. Those that are also Almshouses are very small with few properties.

The Le Personne Homes is run by a husband and wife team and is managed by volunteer trustees. There are few opportunities for cost reductions in such a lean organisation, as is the case with most Almshouses. It is through the efforts of this small group of people that 43 vulnerable needy women are able to live independently for rest of their lives, without placing a significant additional burden on the State.

The Charity’s Trustees have assessed the financial impact of the rent restriction aspects of the Bill and conclude that the long term financial viability of the Charity will be placed at risk from the reductions in incomes. In the short term there will be an increasing detrimental effect on the condition of the premises and on the social and financial wellbeing of the Residents.

The Trustees believe that the Secretary of State should use the proposed powers in the Act to exempt Almshouse Charities that are also Registered Providers from the Rent Reduction requirements of the Act.

September 2015

Prepared 16th September 2015