Housing and Homelessness
16 October 2012
Hammersmith & Fulham Council confirms new allocation plans
- The flagship Conservative-led council has agreed policies on tenure, allocations and homelessness.
- From April 2013 it will prevent households with incomes of more than £40,200 who need one or two-bedroom homes from accessing the housing register.
- It will give priority to people with local connections, members of the armed forces and those who have made a community contribution.
- The council will introduce five-year fixed term tenancies, with two years for those less than 25 years of age.
Full story: http://www.lbhf.gov.uk/Directory/News/Council_rips_up_the_social_housing_rule_book.asp
12 October 2012
Hughes: Lib Dems will oppose scrapping housing benefit for under-25s
- According to its deputy leader Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrats will oppose plans floated by the Conservatives to stop housing benefit for the under 25s.
- Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed he would be looking at the measure after Chancellor George Osborne outlined plans to find £10bn in welfare savings by 2016
Full story: http://www.24dash.com/news/housing/2012-10-12-Lib-Dems-will-oppose-scrapping-housing-benefit-for-under-25s-Simon-Hughes
12 October 2012
Commons Public Accounts Committee warms of affordable housing ‘trap'
- The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a report which reveals a government scheme to provide more affordable housing in England could trap some of its poorest residents on benefits.
- The Affordable Homes Programme is meant to deliver 170,000 properties in England by 2015, but there are concerns these properties will cost more to rent.
- Margaret Hodge, chairman of the committee, said higher rents would mean higher payments of housing benefit for those out of work. In turn this would make it harder for claimants to find jobs that paid sufficiently well to make it worthwhile
Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19918191
09 October 2012
Homeless Link: Homeless helped last winter have returned to the streets
- Homeless Link research with local authorities has shown that one in four people who sought shelter in cold weather last winter returned to the streets.
- They are using this to urge every community to provide specialist services during the winter to ensure no one has to sleep rough in freezing temperatures.
- They are also recommending that local authorities drop rules that insist rough sleepers must have a local connection before they can be helped.
Full story: http://www.24dash.com/news/communities/2012-10-09-Rough-sleepers-helped-in-winter-return-to-streets
09 October 2012
Osborne announces plans to stop under-25s claiming housing benefit
- In his speech at the Conservative Party Conference, George Osborne announced the party's intentions to make a further £10bn savings on welfare by 2016.
- He said, "How can we justify giving flats to young people who have never worked, when working people twice their age are still living with their parents because they can't afford their first home?"
- Cuts are understood to feature an under-25s restriction along with an end to the automatic right of benefit increases for unemployment families having more children.
- Amidst fears this could result in an increase in homelessness, Harriet Baldwin, MP, parliamentary aide to the new employment minister Mark Hoban, told Channel 4 News that there would be exemptions to protect anyone coming out of care or fleeing domestic violence.
Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19865692
Baldwin comment: http://www.24dash.com/news/housing/2012-10-09-Tory-MP-outlines-exemptions-to-under-25s-benefit-cut
08 October 2012
House of Commons Library publishes ‘Homeless households in temporary accommodation (England)' report
- The report is designed for Members of Parliament, but provides a readily accessible guide to recent government policy on homelessness
Full report: http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN02110.pdf
04 October 2012
House of Commons Library publishes ‘Homelessness in England' report
- The report is designed for Members of Parliament, but provides a readily accessible guide to recent government policy on homelessness
- The publication has been updated to include reference to the new Housing Minister Mark Prisk.
Full report: http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN01164.pdf
04 October 2012
Crawley Borough Council offers optional homeless lodger scheme following Government's under-occupation penalties
- At the local council's financial deprivation scrutiny panel the chairman revealed the new scheme where people with a spare room in their house would be offered the chance to take in homeless ‘lodgers' who the local authority would otherwise put up in B&Bs.
- This is in addition to other options offered to social tenants in under-occupation circumstances, including increasing working hours, asking adults living in the household to pay more and downsizing.
- The scheme is designed to mitigate the impacts of the Government's under-occupation penalties, which will see social tenants who are under-occupying their home have their housing benefit reduced.
Full story: http://blogs.24dash.com/news/housing/2012-10-04-Bedroom-tax-concern-over-homeless-lodger-scheme
02 October 2012
London borough announces couples who earn more than £40,000 a year between them to be banned from living in council houses
- Under changes to the social housing rulebook, households on more than £40,200 will be banned from accessing the housing register, while five year fixed-term tenancies will also be introduced.
- Hammersmith and Fulham council is also ending ‘tenancies for life' by introducing two year fix term contracts alongside five year tenancies to ensure only the most needy can live in council houses
Full story: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/council-spending/9579557/Couples-who-earn-more-than-40000-a-year-between-them-to-be-banned-from-living-in-council-houses.html
01 October 2012
Local council gives armed services and those in employment priority for social housing
- Newham Council announced members of the armed services and people in employment will be given priority on the housing waiting list.
- People who have made a contribution to their community in other ways such as full time carers would also be given preference
- The changes follow a 12 week consultation with residents
- The new policy is set to be introduced on 29 October.
Full story: http://www.housingexcellence.co.uk/news/newham-council-give-armed-services-and-people-employment-priority-social-housing
28 September 2012
Freud: Universal Credit claimants could keep fortnightly payments for two years.
During his speech at the Centre for Responsible Credit Annual Conference welfare reform minister Lord Freud said that some claimants could be exempt from the monthly payment rule for a period of time, whilst they tackle their debts and learn to manage their finances better.
Full story: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/ministers-speeches/2012/26-09-12.shtml
24 September 2012
New central London social housing development restricts eligibility criteria
- An investigation by Corporate Watch and The Independent has shown that people with a history of mental health and drug and alcohol problems are being excluded from 500 new social housing units under construction in Kings Cross.
- It also revealed the developers and local council have set quotas for the number of homeless and unemployed people who can live there, along with the exclusion of those in rent arrears.
- This allocation process is a departure from the usual points-based allocation process, which aims to let social housing to those who are in the greatest need. Mental health problems and homelessness would usually increase an applicant's point's total and position on the housing register.
Full story: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/its-social-housing--so-why-are-the-needy-locked-out-8166722.html
20 September 2012
Freud: Supported housing will not be roped into Universal Credit
- At the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into Universal Credit, Lord Freud announced that help toward costs of supported housing would be met outside Universal Credit, stating that the government was concerned not to undermine the position of providers in supported housing and that the sector would be ‘treated differently'.
- Ian Duncan Smith added that this would be, ‘either through the discretionary housing payments or even some direct payments'.
- Charities welcomed the announcement, which seems to continue the current ‘exempt accommodation rule' for a vulnerable person.
Full story: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmworpen/uc576-iii/uc57601.htm
Homeless Link response: http://homeless.org.uk/connect/blogs/team/major-win-supported-exempt-accommodation-services
20 September 2012
Prisk: B&B's should be for ‘emergencies only'
- Following National Housing Federation figures which revealed councils' use of B&Bs had risen by 44% in a year, new housing minister Mark Prisk said he would be ‘keeping a very close eye' on councils that use them for more than six weeks.
- He pledged to make sure it does not become something that grows into ‘an insurmountable problem'.
Full story: http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/care/prisk-pledges-to-curtail-use-of-bbs-for-homeless/6523845.article
20 September 2012
London councils increasingly ‘outsourcing their (housing) waiting lists'
- Tobias Ellwood, Conservative MP for Bournemouth East raised the issue in Parliament, highlighting that landlords were being approached by councils seeking to offload their housing benefit claimants to areas outside London.
- He noted the additional challenges to his constituency due to the ‘anti-social challenges' these bring to his constituency.
- Councils such as Hillingdon, Croydon and Westminster have already admitted making preparations to, or placing claimants outside London due to a shortage of affordable properties with the imposition of the housing benefit cap.
Full story: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm120917/debtext/120917-0001.htm#1209177000574
17 September 2012
Rise in homeless families in B&B accommodation
- Figures from the National Housing Federation show the number of families being placed in temporary B&B accommodation by councils in London has risen by 44%.
- Between January and March 2012 there were 3,960 families nationwide living in B&Bs, up over 2,750 over the same period in 2011
- The rise comes after ministers warned 20 councils not to house families in B&Bs for six weeks or more.
Full story: http://www.housing.org.uk/media/news/homeless_families_in_bbs_rise.aspx
14 September 2012
Prisk: "Other problems" surrounding homelessness need to be addressed
- Mark Prisk has written a piece in the Hertfordshire Mercury about his new role as Housing Minister.
- He included a section on homelessness, where he praised the work of his predecessor but most of his piece focused on planning and development in housing.
- He noted the ‘other problems' that those who are homeless face, such as family breakdown and drugs, and pledged to be an active part of the Home Secretary's approach in combating these.
Full story: http://www.hertfordshiremercury.co.uk/Hertfordshire/Hertford-and-Stortfords-Tory-MP-Mark-Prisk-writes-about-his-new-job-as-housing-minister-14092012.htm
14 September 2012
Increasing numbers offered accommodation 40 miles away from home
- People waiting accommodation in Westminster are being moved 40 miles away to Kent to live due to increased homeless applications in Westminster.
- Applications have increased to 113 compared to 94 last month.
- Housing benefit cap has been cited as one of the causes of this rise, which makes it difficult for those on benefits to be housed in the Westminster area due to high weekly rents.
Full story: http://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/homeless_sent_to_kent_as_westminster_council_struggle_to_find_housing_1_1517496
10 September 2012
Homelessness Transition Fund offers grants to homeless charities
- From 10 September homeless charities in England will be able to apply for grants of up to £100k to invest in new ways of preventing and tackling rough sleeping.
- Priority will be given to areas that are experiencing high levels of homelessness and want to adopt No Second Night Out.
- The Fund has also announced that in September it will launch the ‘Future Ready' fund, designed for homelessness services at risk of closure who will be able to apply for a grant to between £5k and £25k.
- The independent Homelessness Transition Fund was set up in 2011 to help support the Government's rough sleeping strategy ‘Vision to end rough sleeping: No Second Night Out nationwide', and is administered by Homeless Link and supported by the Dept for Communities and Local Government
Full story: http://homeless.org.uk/news/%C2%A33m-help-tackle-rising-rough-sleeping
06 September 2012
CLG release latest National Statistics on Statutory Homelessness (April - June 2012)
- 12,860 applicants were accepted as owed a main homelessness duty between 1 April and 30 June 2012, 9 per cent higher than during the same quarter of 2011.
- 51,640 households were in temporary accommodation on 30 June 2012, 7 per cent higher than at the same date in 2011.
Full report: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/statistics/homelessnessq22012
06 September 2012
Government launch new housing strategy
- The new housing strategy, designed to boost the economy and create jobs includes measures to build new affordable homes, bring empty homes back into use, and provide more help for first time buyers.
- Plans focus around removing some of the bureaucracy and red tape in order to stimulate the construction industry.
- An extra £300million has been promised to build 15,000 affordable homes. This is in addition to the $4.5bilion the Coalition Government has already committed, along with £15billion private investment, in order to build a total of 170,000 new affordable homes over the current spending review period.
- A time-limited facet of the new plans will allow developers to negotiate with councils the number of social houses they will have to build to as incentivise them with high profits, in turn stimulating the construction market.
Full story: http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/housing/2211918
2 September 2012
Shapps: Safety net against homelessness continues to 2015
- Housing Minister Grant Shapps announced that funding to help those facing homelessness will continue until the end of this Parliament.
- Councils across the country are set to receive a share of £160million over the next two years.
- The Minister also confirmed that a new website and telephone line, where anyone anywhere looking to get help for someone sleeping on the streets can go to, is on track to be available by Christmas.
Full story: http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/2208937
31 August 2012
Shapps and Green announce plans to end ‘beds in sheds'
- Housing minister Grant Shapps and Immigration Minister Damien Green launched plans to clampdown on rogue landlords to bring an end to suburban shanty towns that trap vulnerable people in dangerous living conditions.
- The plans are composed of new guidance to councils; clarifying powers at their disposal to shut down the so-called ‘beds-in-sheds', and take actions against other bad practice by landlords such as overcrowding and poor maintenance.
- Evidence suggests that thousands of sheds and outbuildings are being rented out illegally to vulnerable migrants who live in cramped conditions.
Full story: http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/2208160
Council guidance: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/roguelandlordsguide
30 August 2012
People sleeping rough in Wandsworth falls by half
- Since the end of 2010, the estimated total number of people sleeping rough in Wandsworth has dropped from 34 to 15.
- The reason for the drop is claimed to be the support network of organisations created to help the homeless led by council officers and a number of outreach teams in the area.
Full story: http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/news/article/11378/number_of_rough_sleepers_falls
28 August 2012
Residential squatting outlawed
- Squatting in resident and social housing properties has been outlawed from 1 September 2012
- Squatters convicted under the act could face up to 51 weeks in prison, a fine of up to £5,000, or both.
- Under the new law, it will be an offence for a person to be inside a residential property if they entered it as a trespasser. However, it will not be an offence if a person stays in a property after the end of a lease or licence.
Full story: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/HomeAndCommunity/WhereYouLive/Derelictbuildingsandsquatters/DG_10022452
28 August 2012
Shapps unveils £1.3million fund to give more power to housing associations and council tenants over their homes
- The Tenant Empowerment Programme is designed to re-engage people with their local communities, offering what he described as a "springboard for success" to those who tailor services to local needs.
- The programme will potentially involve a range of services, from helping tenants learn the skills they need to engage and negotiate confidently with their landlords; forming tenant panels to come together to demand the best value-for-money services; or take control of local services themselves if they feel that they could deliver more for less.
- He has invited charities and benevolent societies to submit their ideas for delivering a national programme.
Full story: http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/newsroom/2154760
23 August 2012
Shapps: Montague Review is ‘blueprint' for encouraging more institutional investment into the sector.
- Housing Minister Grant Shapps welcomed the findings of the Montague Review, which looked at encouraging investment in the private rented sector to boost the building of new homes.
- The Montague Review made a series of recommendations to speed up the timescale for building more private rented homes needed to meet demand. These include:
- A flexible approach to planning by local authorities to support the rental sector
- Release of public sector land for build-to-let developments
- Specially-targeted Government incentives to stimulate the development of new business models
- Establish a private rented sector Housing Task Force to drive forward build-to-let projects
- Establish a set of voluntary standards for the build-to-let sector, in conjunction with industry bodies
- While the recommendations were generally welcomed, G15, which represents London's largest housing associations, has raised concerns that its proposals could reduce the number of affordable homes being built.
Montague Report: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/privaterentedhomesreview
Department for Local Communities and Government Response: http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/housing/2204435
20 August 2012
Policy Exchange: Sell expensive social housing to fund new homes and boost the economy
- Policy Exchange has published a new report, "Ending Expensive Social Tenancies", recommending that selling off vacant social housing worth more than the average property in each region could generate £4.5 billion annually which could be used to build 80,000 - 170,000 new social homes a year.
- It is suggested this could reduce housing waiting lists by between 250,000 to 600,000 households in five years.
- The report also found ‘expensive' social housing accounts for 21.8% of the total housing stock in the UK, rising to 30.7% in London.
- The report also recommends a regional cap on the value of social properties similar to the Housing Benefit Cap, adjusted for bedroom size.
- It argues that ending expensive social housing will generate growth and jobs, particularly in the construction industry.
Full report: http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/publications/category/item/ending-expensive-social-tenancies
Government response: http://www.communities.gov.uk/issuesandresponses/newsroom/22017981
CIH Response: http://www.cih.org/news-article/display/vpathDCR/templatedata/cih/news-article/data/Recommendation_to_sell_off_social_rented_homes_oversimplifies_the_problem_says_CIH
17 August 2012
Communities and Local Government Evidence Review: Homelessness costs government millions
- A CLG department paper has found councils in England spent nearly £345 million on homelessness a year, based on 2010/11 forms English councils returned to CLG on housing services revenue, including around £100 million on temporary accommodation and £70 million on homelessness prevention
- It also points to a DOH 2010 study which suggests on average a homeless persons costs the NHS 4 times more than a member of the general population.
- The report states that the ‘costs to the criminal justice system and policing may be significant', but does not give a figure.
Full report: http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/pdf/2200485.pdf
16 August 2012
Department for Communities and Local Government: Making Every Contact Count published
- The DCLG released a new report which sets out a cross-Government strategy to ensure anyone at risk of homelessness gets help at the earliest possible stage to prevent them from losing their home.
- It poses 10 local challenges to local authorities and their partners in order to achieve:
- earlier support for young people, former prisoners, and patients with mental health, drug or alcohol problems;
- better cross-service work between the voluntary sector, councils, health services and the justice system;
- financial advice and jobseeking support through the voluntary sector, Jobcentre Plus and the work programme;
- new funding mechanisms, including the Government's innovative new payment-by-results scheme; and
- a new homelessness 'gold standard' that all local services should aim to achieve, setting the benchmark for services across the country.
- The report also announced an extra £3.5 million to 21 homelessness charities to support help and accommodation schemes for rough sleepers and extend the No Second Night Out initiative to eight more areas.
- St Mungo's welcomes the report and urges local authorities to rise to the challenges it sets.
- St Mungo's is mentioned four times in the report, in relation to its research with the Department of Health and Homeless Link on hospital discharge and the charity's work with other agencieson the suitability of the Work Capability Assessment. It also includes employment research on clients from St Mungo's 2012 Client Needs Survey.
- The report also uses a recent Government sponsored report which highlights the importance of developing psychologically informed environments which focus on the psychological and emotional wellbeing of homeless people with complex trauma to inform the new Mental Health Strategy.
Full report: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/makingeverycontactcount
St Mungo's response: http://www.mungos.org/press_office/1387_a-welcome-commitment-to-preventing-homelessness
Homeless Healthcare PIE report: http://homelesshealthcare.org.uk/pies/
Homeless Link response: http://homeless.org.uk/news/homeless-link-responds-government-prevention-plan
LGA response: http://www.local.gov.uk/web/guest/media-releases/-/journal_content/56/10171/3683183/NEWS-TEMPLATE
16 August 2012
St Mungo's to manage two new projects funded by the Homelessness Transition Fund
- New funding has been announced to help those already, or at risk of rough sleeping.
- St Mungo's will manage two new projects in London:
- Street Legal - Tackling rough sleeping in West London: £197,000. In partnership with Refugee Action and Thames Reach, St Mungo's will provide help with border issues for non-EU nationals and support to get into accommodation
- Hackney Ark - Helping eastern Europeans in Hackney: £149,000. The service will work with new and long-term rough sleepers in Hackney from eastern European countries who need more specialist help. Charity outreach staff will assess each individual's housing, health and welfare situation and help broker plans to move them on from the streets
Full details: http://www.mungos.org/press_office/1387_a-welcome-commitment-to-preventing-homelessness
16 August 2012
Department for Communities and Local Government release official statistics on homeless prevention and relief
- The DCLG released official statistics on homelessness prevention and relief in England that took place outside the homelessness statutory framework in 2011-12.
- The key points from the latest release are:
- In 2011-12, a total of 199,000 cases of homelessness prevention or relief are estimated to have taken place outside the statutory homelessness framework in England. Of these cases, 174,800 (88 per cent) were preventions and 24,200 (12 per cent) were cases of relief.
- The total number of cases of homelessness prevention or relief increased by 5 per cent when compared to 2010-11. This is due to prevention cases increasing by 7 per cent, whilst cases of relief decreased by 2 per cent.
- In 2011-12, 57 per cent of cases of homelessness prevention and relief involved the household being assisted to obtain alternative accommodation. The remaining 43 per cent involved the cases being assisted to remain in their existing home. This has not changed since 2010-11.
- The most common action taken to prevent or relieve homelessness was the use of landlord incentive schemes to secure private rented sector accommodation. In 2011-12, 27,600 cases (14 per cent) were assisted in obtaining alternative accommodation this way, though this was a decrease of 10 per cent compared to 2010-11.
Full report: http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/statistics/pdf/2199659.pdf
14 August 2012
The Automobile Association: Surge in ‘Squatspots'
- New analysis of official data by the AA's Home Emergency Response Service has found an 8 per cent rise in court claims to evict squatters or trespassers last year in England and Wales.
- London saw the biggest increase of any region, with a 16 per cent rise
- The news follows changes to the law from 1 September which will make squatting in residential and social housing properties illegal.
Full story: http://www.theaa.com/newsroom/news-2012/squatting-her.html
14 August 2012
Ministry of Justice: Court orders for eviction rise by 70 per cent in the last three years
- A Ministry of Justice statistics bulletin has revealed there has been a 70 per cent rise in court orders to evict private tenants over the past three years.
- In the last year 36,211 landlords have been granted a court order to evict their tenants, up 12 per cent on the previous 12 months, and 70 per cent higher than three years ago.
Full story: http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/statistics/civiljustice/mortgage-landlord-2012-q1/mortgage-landlord-possession-stats-q2-2012.pdf
10 August 2012
Homeless charities call for overhaul of London Delivery Board
- Following figures released by Broadway that show rough sleeping in London increased by 43 per cent in 2011/12, homeless sector bosses have called for changes to the LDB, set up in February 2009 to end rough sleeping by the end of 2012.
- Rick Henderson, chief executive of Homeless Link said, ‘The London Delivery Board needs to step up its efforts if we are going to avoid returning to the bad old days of very high rough sleeping numbers in London. It needs to be much more proactive.'
- Jeremy Swain, chief executive of Thames Reach, argued some councils should be replaced and representatives from different government departments involved.
Full story: http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/care/calls-to-overhaul-failing-london-delivery-board/6523171.article
03 August 2012
Lord Best calls for council tax rise for single people
- Lord Richard Best, a crossbench peer and President of the Local Government Association has launched a campaign to change the government's plans to localise council tax benefit from April 2013.
- The campaign seeks to amend the Local Government Finance Bill to allow councils to reduce the 25 per cent council tax discount for single-person households. He believes would allow councils to redistribute money from non-benefit claimant council tax payers without having to cut support for low-income households.
- Citing research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, he highlighted that cutting the discount from 25 per cent to 17.5 per cent, excluding pensioners, would save enough money to meet the governments objectives.
Full story: http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/tenancies/lord-best-calls-for-council-tax-rise-for-single-people/6523078.article
02 August 2012
Shapps alerted to social landlord's private leasing success
- Housing Minister Grant Shapps has been alerted to a housing association's private leasing scheme that has private landlords wanting to build homes specifically for it.
- The Midlands scheme that started in April hit its target of placing 10 homeless families into accommodation within its first month.
- Private sector lease schemes are used by housing associations to accommodate homeless families and see the private landlord paid directly by the provider who maintains the upkeep of the home for the period of the lease.
Full story: http://www.24dash.com/news/housing/2012-08-02-Shapps-alerted-to-private-sector-leasing-success
01 August 2012
DWP launches public consultation on the Discretionary Housing Payments
Following changes in welfare benefits, the current guidance for local authorities on Discretionary Housing Payments has been updated and the DWP have begun the consultation process, it is primarily aimed at local authorities, but welcomes views from anyone with an interest in the payments, including welfare organisations.
Closing date: August 31 2012. St Mungo's will be responding to this consultation.
Full document: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2012/discretionary-housing-payments.shtml
30 July 2012
Sector responds to Universal Credit Consultation
- Homeless Link believes there should be particular exceptions in order to prevent homelessness and destitution, and is concerned about a number of matters that are omitted from Regulations, particularly the way eligible charges in supported accommodation will be managed under UC.
- St Mungo's believes that thoes in support accommodations should have the housing element paid directly to the landlord and there should be flexibility around service charges. Thereshould alsobe an alternative to 'digital by default' for thoes with literacy needs orwho find it difficult to use a computer.
- Crisis warned it could potentially lead to an increase in homelessness, and is particularly concerned about its effects on the young unemployed, those suffering bereavement or redundancy and those with drug or alcohol problems.
- NIACE raised concerns on the digital capability of some claimants, creating barriers to access to the benefit, the potential for a reduction in opportunities for adults to improve their skills; and the lack of coherence between universal credit and the new Further Education (FE) loans system for learners at level 3 aged over 24.
You can read St Mungo's consultation response here: http://www.mungos.org/documents/3225/3225.pdf
Homeless Link response: http://homeless.org.uk/sites/default/files/HomelessLinkSSACResponseJuly2012.pdf
Crisis response: http://www.crisis.org.uk/news.php?id=482
NIACE response: http://www.niace.org.uk/news/niace-submits-evidence-on-proposed-universal-credit-regulations?src=fp1st
6 July 2012
Homes and Communities Agency sets out Corporate Plan 2012-2015
- The HCA's Corporate Plan 2012-15 details how the agency will help realise the Government's Housing Strategy and make a major contribution towards its aspiration of creating up to 170,000 new affordable homes across England by 2015.
- Over the next three years, the agency will also focus on regulating social housing to ensure that providers remain financially viable and well-managed, and respond to any cases of serious detriment to tenants.
Full report: http://www.homesandcommunities.co.uk/sites/default/files/aboutus/corporate_plan_2012.pdf
25 June 2012
Sector responds to proposed cut to housing benefit for under 25s
- A number of organisations across the housing, homelessness and youth sectors condemned David Cameron's proposal to end housing benefit for those under the age of 25.
Homeless Link: http://homeless.org.uk/news/response-reports-housing-benefit-should-be-cut-under-25%E2%80%99s
25 June 2012
David Cameron, speech on welfare reform
- In his speech, David Cameron set out 17 different ways which the welfare state could be reformed. These are ideas rather than fixed policies, and the majority would not be implemented until after the 2015 general election.
- These included: Removing housing benefit for 16-24 year olds (with certain exemptions), requiring anyone on JSA to carry out full-time community work, reducing benefits for those out of work for longer periods and changing council house allocation policies to better prioritise people with local connections and those in work.
Full transcript: http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/welfare-speech
21 June 2012
Conservative MP proposes bill to criminalise subletting of social housing
- Watford MP Richard Harrington has introduced a private members bill to parliament that would criminalise subletting social housing.
- If the bill is passed it will make subletting a criminal rather than civil offence, meaning it can result in a custodial sentence, and also allow the proceeds of subletting to be paid back to the social landlord.
Full story: http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/tenancies/government-backs-bill-to-criminalise-subletting/6522420.article
21 June 2012
IPPR report: Decentralised ‘Affordable Housing Grants' would increase number of homes built and improve affordability
- A report by the IPPR states that local councils should have a duty to provide affordable housing but the right to decide how to spend the money currently going to landlords through Housing Benefit.
- The divide between capital grants and Housing Benefit spending should be collapsed by devolving expenditure to local authorities and putting them in the lead. Councils would be under a legal duty to use their 'Affordable Housing Grants' to improve affordability in their area.
Full report: http://www.ippr.org/publication/55/9279/together-at-home-a-new-strategy-for-housing
18 June 2012
Department for Communities and Local Government figures reveal 16% rise in homelessness
- DCLG figures show homelessness acceptance jumped by 16% in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period last year. The use of B&B accommodation had also risen by 44 per cent.
Full report: http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/statistics/pdf/2160776.pdf
15 June 2012
House of Commons Library Standard Note: Homelessness in England
- The note explains local authorities' duties to homeless households, the number of families living in temporary accommodation and policy developments in the area.
Full report: http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN01164.pdf
14 June 2012
Department for Work and Pensions publication: Monitoring the impact of changes to the Local Housing Allowance system of housing benefit - summary of early findings
- The DWP has released the early findings of its study into the changes to the LHA system of housing benefit in 19 case study areas.
- A small minority of people have reacted to the LHA changes by seeking lower rented property, and one in five thought they might do so in the next year in order to meet any gap between their LHA and the rent charged.
- 70 per cent of landlords intend to continue letting to tenants who claim Housing Benefit, 15 per cent said they would not let to HB tenants in the next year.
Full report: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rports2011-2012/rrep798.pdf
14 June 2012
Lord Freud, speech at the Chartered Institute of Housing ‘Housing 2012' conference
- In a speech to the CIH conference, Lord Freud discussed, amongst other issues, demonstration projects which will test key elements of social sector housing support under Universal Credit while protecting social landlords' financial position.
Full transcript: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/ministers-speeches/2012/14-06-12.shtml
14 June 2012
Grant Shapps: Funding to help homelessness advice service continue
- Housing Minister Grant Shapps announced advice and support services for frontline staff helping families facing the prospect of homelessness are to receive a cash boost from Government.
- £3.4 million will be given to the National Homelessness Advice Service to ensure it continues to deliver support services to equip local agencies to families across the country. The funding, to be shared between Shelter and the Citizens Advice Bureau, will help provide:
Full story: http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/newsroom/2161258
13 June 2012
Joseph Rowntree Foundation report: Over one million more young people to be forced into private renting by 2020
- A JRF report, Housing options and solutions for young people in 2020, finds that an extra 1.5 million 18 to 30-year-olds will be forced into private renting in just eight years' time.
- An extra half a million young people will be forced to stay with their parents well into their 30s, taking the total number of young people living with mum and dad to 3.7 million by 2020.
- The number of homeless young people under 25 is predicted to rise to 81,000, with further increases expected.
Full report: http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/housing-options-solutions-young-people
12 June 2012
Grant Shapps: Government on track to build 170,000 affordable homes
- Housing Minister Grant Shapps welcomed figures published today by the Homes and Communities Agency, which show that affordable housing starts in the six-month period to March 2012 were up by nearly 15,000 compared to the first half of the last financial year.
- Shapps said, "This rapid and dramatic progress means that we are well on track to exceed all original expectations and deliver up to 170,000 new affordable homes over the next few years."
Full transcript: http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/2159599
6 June 2012
House of Commons Library Standard Note: Rough sleeping
- The note gives background information on rough sleeping and examines Government policy to tackle the issue.
Full report: http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN02007.pdf
31 May 2012
Ealing Council place homeless in housing due for demolition to avoid sending them outside the borough
- Ealing Council is pushing ahead with a proposal to place homeless families currently in bed and breakfast accommodation in 238 properties that are to be emptied and demolished, on unsecured tenancies
Full story: http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/development/homeless-placed-in-houses-due-to-be-demolished/6522070.article
31 May 2012
Government consultation on Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) Order
- The Localism Act 2011 enables local authorities to end the main homelessness duty by arranging an offer of suitable accommodation in the private rented sector, without the applicant's agreement.
- The proposed draft Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) Order 2012 sets out those circumstances in which accommodation used for the private rented sector offer is not to be regarded as suitable. It will also look at how best to strengthen requirements in relation to location.
Full report: http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/pdf/21513539.pdf
29 May 2012
£145million Government funding to help councils bring empty homes back into use
- Following bidding processes, 20 successful councils will each receive a slice of £60 million Government funding to tackle clusters of empty homes, and voluntary and community groups across the country will receive over £25million to tackle individual empty properties in their area.
Full story: http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/newsroom/2152954
28 May 2012
New Crisis report on young people and homelessness calls for better protection for young people
- A new Crisis report, ‘Young, Hidden and Homeless', explores the experiences and circumstances of young single homeless people aged 18-25.
- It states that young homeless people are considerably more vulnerable than the overall homeless population but often do not get the help they need from local authorities or formal support services. The report also finds that being told to leave the family home by their parents is the biggest cause of homelessness for young people.
Full report: http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/Crisis%20briefing%20-%20youth%20homelessness.pdf
23 May 2012
Lord Freud gives speech at NHF conference on welfare reform
- At the National Housing Federation conference, Welfare reform minister Lord Freud provided further details on the under-occupation penalties and an overview of Universal Credit and the direct payment demonstration projects.
- He told delegates that he believed it was not the role of Government or benefit staff to provide definitions that stipulate bedroom sizes. He also encouraged landlords to work with councils on the upcoming local authority pilots which will look at face-to-face support for Universal Credit claimants.
Full transcript: http://www.24dash.com/news/housing/2012-05-23-Lord-Freuds-welfare-reform-speech-at-NHF-conference-in-full?utm_source=24dash+newsletter+subscribers&utm_campaign=ff75978110-24dash_Latest_News&utm_medium=email
23 May 2012
Boris Johnson announces Homes for London board
- Boris Johnson has announced the members of the Homes for London board that will oversee his £3 billion housing budget for the capital. Members include London Councils' executive member for housing Sir Steve Bullock and leader of Greenwich council Chris Roberts.
- They will advise and support the mayor on housing in the capital, overseeing the delivery of housing programmes including the affordable homes programme and use of newly acquired GLA land.
Full story: http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/development/london-mayor-announces-housing-board-members/6521962.article
22 May 2012
Broadway CHAIN report: Rough sleeping in London rises by 31% on same period last year
- The bi-monthly CHAIN report (1st March-30th April 2012) shows that the number of rough sleepers in London increased by 31% compared to the same period in 2011.
- There was a 73% rise in new rough sleepers compared to the same period last year but a 94% fall in the number of people spending a second night on the streets.
Full report: http://www.broadwaylondon.org/CHAIN/Reports/BiMonthlyBoroughReports/MarchApril/S2H_MarApr2012.pdf
18 May 2012
House of Commons Library Standard Note: Under-occupation of social housing - Housing Benefit entitlement
- From April 2013, working-age social tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit will experience a reduction in their benefit entitlement if they live in housing that is deemed to be too large for their needs. The policy is controversial and has labelled a ‘bedroom tax'.
- The note explains the potential impact of the policy and possible responses by landlords and tenants.
Full report: http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN06272.pdf
17 May 2012
Chartered Institute of Housing, National Housing Federation and Shelter report: Government failing to deliver on five out of ten housing indicators
- The Government is falling well short in tackling the country's burgeoning housing crisis and is failing to deliver on five out of ten key housing indicators. These include housing supply, affordability of the private rented sector and homelessness.
- In response, Jack Dromey, Shadow Housing Minister, said ""The deterioration in outcomes outlined in this report show this out of touch Government still isn't listening. They're failing to help the young couples who can't get on the housing ladder. They're failing those families struggling with high rents in the private rented sector and the millions on waiting lists. And they're failing the increasing number of people sleeping on our streets."
Full report: http://www.housing.org.uk/publications/find_a_publication/general/idoc.ashx?docid=dcc5f209-735c-4c6a-8465-d3deae88b249&version=-1
9 May 2012
Grant Shapps: Landlords who evict tenants to profit from the Olympics face prison
Full story: http://www.24dash.com/news/central_government/2012-05-08-Shapps-Prison-for-landlords-who-evict-tenants-for-Olympic-profits
8 May 2012
Housing associations express concern over effects of the ‘bedroom tax'
- Housing associations are concerned about the implications of the under-occupation legislation which comes into effect next April.
- Lack of suitable accommodation for tenants to downsize to and potential arrears of those penalised for under-occupation are two issues which have been raised.
Full story: http://www.24dash.com/news/housing/2012-05-08-Bedroom-tax-In-the-eye-of-the-perfect-storm
8 May 2012
IPPR report: Housing associations should ‘operate outside charitable function' and mayor should be given power over housing benefits in the capital
- A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has recommended housing associations operate "outside their charitable function" to deliver new private rented homes offering secure contracts and stable rents.
- The report also suggests devolving power and responsibility for housing in London, including housing benefit, to the mayor and raising the Local Housing Allowance caps in the capital by £10 a week.
Full report: http://www.ippr.org/images/media/files/publication/2012/05/affordable-capital-housing-london_May2012_9064.pdf
7 May 2012
Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion and HACT report: Less than 30% of housing providers are engaged in Work Programme and 42% know the employment status of their tenants or residents
- Analysis by The Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (CESI) and housing charity HACT shows that only 28% of housing providers are engaging in the Government's flagship back to work scheme, despite 88% of providers offering their own employment services.
- Only 42% of housing providers know the employment status of their tenants or residents.
Full report: http://www.cesi.org.uk/publications/housing-providers-approaches-tackling-worklessness
2 May 2012
Jack Dromey, speech to Crisis conference on homelessness
- In a speech to Crisis, Jack Dromey, Shadow Housing Minister, outlined the recent increases in homelessness and cut-backs to services. He labelled the Government's response, ‘utterly complacent'.
Full transcript: http://www.labour.org.uk/speech-to-crisis-today