The political choices on homelessnessPosted: February 28, 2022 Filed under: Homelessness, Local housing allowance, Universal credit Leave a comment
Everyone In was one of the few success stories in housing policy this century but all that progress in tackling homelessness is about to go into reverse.
The stark warning in the latest Homelessness Monitor for England from Crisis is that levels of core homelessness will have gone up by a third between 2019 and 2024 if nothing changes.
If the reasons for the forecast are not hard to guess, the contrast with the progress made at the start of the pandemic when 37,000 people sleeping rough or at risk of doing so were given accommodation makes this even more depressing. So too the contrast between England and the continuing ambitions of devolved governments elsewhere in Britain to end homelessness altogether.
Rough sleeping was down 33 per cent and sofa surfing down 11 per cent in England in 2020 after that extraordinary initial effort under Everyone In but it soon morphed from a policy into branding for an initiative.
The result was that core homelessness (which means the most acute forms of homelessness including rough sleeping, sofa surfing and being in temporary accommodation) was also down 5 per cent on 2019 levels at 203,400 in 2020.
The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, another success story, also helped single homeless households, although the report points to weaknesses including continued lack of entitlement to accommodation for some groups (another issue being addressed elsewhere but not England).
So the good news is that the pandemic saw a welcome interruption in the upward trend in homelessness since 2012.
That’s backed up by the latest figures published this week showing that the number of rough sleepers fell for the fourth year in a row in the government’s latest annual snapshot survey – and by the repeal of the Vagrancy Act.
The bad news is that most of the support introduced during the pandemic has since been reversed, with the uplift withdrawn, LHA rates refrozen despite rising rents and mounting concern that evictions could rise sharply in 2022.Read the rest of this entry »
Johnson, Partygate and manifesto commitmentsPosted: January 31, 2022 Filed under: First Homes, Home ownership, Homelessness, Housebuilding, Levelling up | Tags: Boris Johnson Leave a comment
Originally written as a column for Inside Housing.
It’s been just over two years but thanks to Covid-19 it feels like a lifetime ago.
Leaving aside the question of whether he has really delivered on his headline promise to ‘Get Brexit Done’ how much of Boris Johnson’s 2019 election manifesto has survived into the post-Coronavirus age?
The question was originally prompted by the outcome of the judicial review over Everyone In. The scheme launched at the start of the pandemic to get rough sleepers off the streets and into hotels within a few days was a great success.
It also signalled that the manifesto promise to ‘end the blight of rough sleeping by the end of the next parliament’ should be well within reach.
Except that, for all that rhetoric, Everyone In morphed from a policy into an initiative with an asterisk attached. From around May 2020, it was no longer a promise but branding for an initiative exhorting local authorities to act without giving them any extra resources.
And then I realised the wider context as we continue the seemingly interminable wait for Sue Gray’s report.Read the rest of this entry »
How DLUHC and DWP mark their homeworkPosted: October 29, 2021 Filed under: Civil service, Fire safety, Homelessness, Housebuilding, Rough sleeping | Tags: DLUHC, DWP, Spending Review 2021 Leave a comment
With a new secretary of state, a new department and a new name, what are the government’s real priorities when it comes to housing?
Some big clues dropped in an intriguing supplementary document published alongside the Budget and Spending Review this week.
Spending Review 2021 – Policy outcomes and metrics is meant to tie spending and performance together. Each department has an Outcome Delivery Plan that sets out their priority outcomes and the metrics they will use to measure their performance against them. Effectively, this is their homework how they want it to be marked and the measures used are highly revealing.Read the rest of this entry »
Behind the Spending Review’s smoke and mirrorsPosted: October 28, 2021 Filed under: Affordable housing, Fire safety, Homelessness, Housebuilding | Tags: Spending Review 2021 Leave a comment
Originally published as a column for Inside Housing.
This was a spending review that didn’t really feel like a spending review as far as housing is concerned.
It’s the first multi-year review since 2015 but compare it to the austerity seen then and in 2010, the cuts of 1998 and even the relative largesse of 2007 and it seems to contain little that is really new.
Aside from what is claimed to be an additional £1.8 billion for brownfield land, almost everything in it has already been announced, in some cases several times.
The 2021 spending review (SR21) ‘confirms’ £5 billion for cladding removal and ‘reconfirms’ £11.5 billion for the Affordable Homes Programme alongside an existing £10 billion for housing supply but the numbers in it play fast and loose with the difference between the five years of this parliament and the three covered by the review (2022/23 to 2024/25).
A classic example is the claim in the Red Book that: ‘SR21 demonstrates the government’s commitment to investing in safe and affordable housing by confirming a settlement of nearly £24 billion for housing, up to 2025-26.’ Rishi Sunak also used this impressively large number in his Budget speech.Read the rest of this entry »
Time running out for temporary fixesPosted: May 28, 2020 Filed under: Coronavirus, Fire safety, Private renting, Rough sleeping 1 Comment
Originally posted on May 28 as a column for Inside Housing.
What then? It’s the question that’s been left hanging in most of the housing elements of the government’s response to the Coronavirus and much more besides.
There was a partial answer on what happens to thousands of temporarily accommodated rough sleepers as the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) accelerated funding to make 3,300 housing units available over the next 12 months.
There was an answer of sorts for leaseholders living in unsafe buildings as MHCLG opened registrations for its new £1 billion Building Safety Fund that extends help to other forms of dangerous cladding as well as Aluminium Composite Material (ACM).
And there was a welcome one for millions of home owners with mortgages as the Treasury extended the chance to apply for a payment holiday by another three months and Financial Conduct Authority guidance made clear that banks should not start of continue repossession proceedings until the end of October given the uncertainty faced by customers and government advice on social distancing and self-isolation.
But there is still no answer for millions of social and private renters asking what will happen when the moratorium on evictions ends on June 25.
MPs call for action on rough sleeping and rentingPosted: May 22, 2020 Filed under: Coronavirus, Legal, Private renting, Rough sleeping, Section 21, Uncategorized Leave a comment
The government will miss a ‘golden opportunity’ to end rough sleeping once and for all if it fails to turn temporary measures into something more permanent.
And ministers must beef up ‘toothless’ plans to protect renters in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis or risk a new wave of homelessness.
Those are the top-line messages from an all-party group of MPs today. But an interim report on protecting rough sleepers and renters from the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee also goes much further in endorsing calls by campaigners for wider changes to the housing system.
- A dedicated funding stream to end rough sleeping, likely to be at least £100 million a year
- Improved support for councils to help people with no recourse to public funds who will otherwise end up back on the streets
- Boosting the supply of suitable housing by re-establishing the National Clearing House Scheme set up after the financial crisis for unsold homes and giving councils more flexibility to buy them
- Turning the increase in the Local Housing Allowance to the 30th percentile from a temporary into a long-term measure and looking at the impact of raising rents further.
Funding the end of rough sleepingPosted: May 19, 2020 Filed under: Homelessness, Rough sleeping Leave a comment
Originally published as a column for Inside Housing on May 19.
The row over rough sleeping looks like it could be a preview of many more to come over the housing and homelessness part of the government’s response to Coronavirus.
It began on Thursday night, when Jen Williams of the Manchester Evening News reported that the Everyone In scheme was being ‘wound down’ and scrapped. This was based on a leak of an internal report to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority that central government had ‘drawn a line’ under the scheme.
Cue a furious response from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHLCG) that went well beyond a denial.
The full retort went up on the new MHCLG media blog, which seems reserved for stories that have particularly annoyed ministers or special advisers or both.
Housing in the time of CoronavirusPosted: March 23, 2020 Filed under: Coronavirus, Homelessness, Local housing allowance, Private renting Leave a comment
Originally posted on March 19 as a blog for Inside Housing.
It was only last week but already it seems a lifetime ago since BC – Before Coronavirus
With schools closing, London facing lockdown and, who knows, troops on the streets by the weekend, the impact on housing may seem minor by comparison.
But beyond parochial organisational concerns, the situation is critical for millions of people faced with losing their income or their job and wondering if they will lose their home too – and a matter of life and death for those living and working in care homes, extra care and sheltered housing and those who already have no home.
With the government twisting the arms of mortgage lenders to offer payment holidays, help arrived for home owners first. Now it is promising help for renters with emergency legislation to ban private and social landlords from evicting anyone for three months and no new possession proceedings to be allowed during the crisis.