Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s has welcomed the Government’s latest package of measures to put an end to unscrupulous landlords exploiting vulnerable people.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) announced yesterday (17 March) that it is investing £11.5 billion through the Affordable Homes Programme, which includes delivery of new supported housing for older, disabled and other vulnerable people.
To tackle landlords who charge high rents for poor quality accommodation and offer little or no support, the Government is implementing measures to ensure that supported housing is good quality and meets the needs of its residents.
These measures include:
- Minimum standards for the support provided to residents, to ensure residents receive sufficient support to live as independently as possible and achieve their personal goals;
- New powers for local authorities in England to better manage their local supported housing market and ensure that rogue landlords cannot exploit the system to the detriment of vulnerable residents and at the expense of taxpayers; and
- Changes to Housing Benefit regulations to seek to define care, support and supervision to improve quality across all specified supported housing provision.
St Mungo’s Chief Executive, Steve Douglas CBE, said: “We are pleased to see the Government introducing a quality assurance framework for supported accommodation, which was a key recommendation in the Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping, and reiterated in our exempt accommodation enquiry submission.
“The framework will help to address the scandal of some landlords gaming a system designed to support the most vulnerable in society.
“Good quality accommodation and the right levels of support can empower a person’s journey to recovery, while poor accommodation and inadequate support has the opposite effect.
“Praise should go to social justice charity Commonweal, Birmingham City Council and the local government association, in particular for pushing for the issue of the abuse of exempt accommodation to be addressed.
“We look forward to the Government working in partnership with local authorities, providers and sector representatives to collectively implement these new measures and create a better definition of the standard of care across the sector.”
The Government also pledged an additional £20 million for a Supported Housing Investment Programme. Funding for this three-year programme will be open to bids from all local authorities, to build on the success of the recent supported housing pilots.
The pilot authorities were able to drive up the quality of accommodation and support to residents, and will create a best practice model for other local authorities to adopt.
A portion of the £20m fund will be ring-fenced for local authorities that participated in phase two of the pilots, while new local authorities will also have the opportunity to bid for funding. The Government is expected to unveil the bidding prospectus for this funding shortly.