Is Universal Credit ready for an expansion?
Is Universal Credit ready for an expansion?

Universal Credit (UC) recently made the headlines for the wrong reasons. Esther McVey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, came to parliament to correct her statement regarding the National Audit Office’s (NAO) recent report on the government’s flagship benefit. The NAO’s report found that UC is not value for money, and it has significant doubt about its main benefits.

Managed migration makes the problems more immediate

The report’s conclusions became immediate in the last couple of weeks, as plans have been … Read more

'B&B is a prison sentence': children speak about being homeless
'B&B is a prison sentence': children speak about being homeless

The Change it! campaign, supported by the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), is publishing new research into the lives of homeless children growing up in temporary accommodation. In this guest blog, Maria Stephens, Participation Manager at CRAE, writes about some of the harrowing stories that arose from the research – and about what might be driving the problem.

‘I’ve given up hope’

‘Living in B&B is like serving a prison sentence; I’ve almost given up hope. I’m 14 and … Read more

Windrush shows it's easy to fall foul of Right to Rent
Windrush shows it's easy to fall foul of Right to Rent

As the stories from people affected by the Windrush scandal continue to emerge, the government’s ‘hostile environment’ strategy faces growing scrutiny. The hostile environment – the idea of making it increasingly uncomfortable for people who are living in the UK illegally – has framed the background for many government initiatives in recent years. One of these initiatives was the Right to Rent scheme, which we had deep concerns about since its inception.

The Right to Rent threatens private landlords with … Read more

Government drops removal of housing benefit for 18-21s
Government drops removal of housing benefit for 18-21s

Today, the government made a welcome step towards helping young people escape homelessness. The Work and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey, has dropped the government’s policy to exclude people aged 18-21 from the ability to claim housing costs in Universal Credit.

The change, which was introduced in April 2017, effectively meant that most 18-21-year-olds became ineligible for housing benefit. It was a policy inherited from the previous government; one that we and other homelessness charities warned would have concerning consequences for … Read more

The minister doesn't know what's causing homelessness. We're happy to explain
The minister doesn't know what's causing homelessness. We're happy to explain

Homelessness Minister Heather Wheeler attracted attention over the weekend for saying she doesn’t know why rough sleeping is rising.

We have front-line homelessness services across the country and are happy to help the minister understand why.

From our point of view, homelessness isn’t that complicated. Time and again we see the same patterns and themes pushing people into homelessness and through the doors of our services.

First, the facts. Since 2010, all forms of homelessness have gone up in England. … Read more

Benefit cap challenge beaten in Court of Appeal
Benefit cap challenge beaten in Court of Appeal

Last week, the Court of Appeal handed down a disappointing decision on the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) benefit cap policy. It found in the government’s favour that the benefit cap is not unlawful, in so far as it applies to lone parents with children under the age of two.

The benefit cap restricts the amount of benefit payments a household can get to £23,000 in London and £20,000 everywhere else. While the cap is supposed to increase parity … Read more

The rent control you’ve never heard of (part 2)
The rent control you’ve never heard of (part 2)

Yesterday, we explored the fact that rent control already exists for assured and assured shorthold tenants i.e. those paying market rent. In this blog, we will discuss three potential reasons why this kind of rent control is under-used and little-known.

Market rents too high

Assured shorthold tenants are able to challenge their rent in a first tier tribunal if they think it is excessive. But ‘excessive’ is defined as significantly higher than the landlord might reasonably expect to receiveRead more

The rent control you’ve never heard of (part 1)

Renting in the private rented sector? Think your rent is too high? You might be one of the 60% of Britain in favour of introducing rent controls. However, you might be surprised to know that rent controls already exist in England.

No, these are not the often-discussed historic ‘fair rent’ properties, the volume of which has dwindled to very small part of the market. Under ‘regulated’ tenancies, tenants are entitled to a ‘fair rent’ set by the Valuation Office Agency, … Read more

Homeless with a sick child: the stark reality of our housing crisis
Homeless with a sick child: the stark reality of our housing crisis

Rebecca is a mum to three children, including a baby with type 1 diabetes. To prevent her baby from becoming seriously ill, she needs to monitor his blood sugar levels throughout the day and night and provide him with a carefully controlled diet.

If this wasn’t difficult enough, Rebecca was facing homelessness when her landlord decided to evict her and her family.

A new report from the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) describes how Rebecca was badly let down by her … Read more

On Universal Credit, the government is ignoring the elephant in the room

As Philip Hammond prepares for this week’s Budget, it looks increasingly likely that he will concede on making some changes to Universal Credit (UC). Faced with opposition from his own backbenchers, who have challenged him with distressing tales from their constituencies, Mr Hammond may opt to reduce the six week waiting time for the benefit.

If so, it will be welcome. We have been calling for changes for long enough. Our frontline workers are seeing families reduced to destitution because … Read more

Homelessness hits 300,000: we need your help today

Sleeping in a car at night is what most of us expect to have to do in order to keep a roof over our heads. Yet this is how John* coped after being thrown out of his flat by his landlord. John approached his local council for help after his landlord changed the locks to his home.

John was working, yet his low earnings wouldn’t allow him to find any affordable housing in the area. This time, the council was … Read more

Young people are shut out of private renting

Shelter has said it, local government has said it, former ministers have said it – and now private landlords are saying it welfare reform is damaging young renters’ ability to access a home.

A new report, commissioned by the Residential Landlords Association, yesterday warned that under-35-year-olds will have difficulty finding privately rented accommodation as landlords cut back on renting to young people.

The report, by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University, surveyed 1,996 private landlords around the country. … Read more