Advance was one of the first organisations in the UK to deliver shared ownership for customers with learning disabilities and mental health conditions. It is now one of the few remaining housing providers who still offer this form of housing. Since 1997 we’ve helped more than 600 people to become Shared Owners and we are very proud of the product and the difference it has made to our customers’ independence and sense of well being and safety.
Shared ownership (part-rent, part-buy) provides choice and control over where people live. The current model HOLD (Home Ownership for People with Long term Disabilities) is subsidised by government through its social housing regulator; the Homes and Communities Agency. The scheme is available for people with a Learning Disability (LD), a Mental Health (MH) condition or a Physical Disability.
How does it work?
Working with Advance the prospective home owner finds a suitable property. We purchase the property on their behalf and then sell part of it back to them. The home owner can gradually buy more of the property and eventually own their home outright.
What is changing?
Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) is used by many of Advance’s shared ownership customers to meet the interest charged on their mortgage. Unfortunately, the Government is altering the way they will pay Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) from the 6th April 2018. SMI will still be available for claimants who meet the criteria but it will become a loan with interest for any payments made by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after the 5th April 2018. This loan plus the interest charged is only repaid on the sale of the property or when it’s transferred to someone else and only from any equity in the property once the mortgage and other debts charged against the property are settled.
What is Advance doing about it?
We have been asking various MPs to help us raise the issue with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and to ask for an exemption for HOLD customers. As the loan builds up and reduces the equity in the property it may prevent the customer from being able to move if their personal or health circumstances require them to do so. Ideally the SMI should stay with the person until they no longer have a need for it and it could move with them to a new property, if that’s what is required.
Under Universal Credit a claimant will be unable to receive any earned income and still have their mortgage interest met by Support for Mortgage Interest benefit/loan. This is contained within the Universal Credit regulations and is called the Zero Earnings rule.
What can I do about it?
Click the letter on the left to download a standard letter that any shared ownership customer can fill in and send to their local MP asking for help in raising the problem with the DWP.
How do I find out more?
contact the team by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org