37 days to win the election; 100 days to make it count

Yesterday, the General Election 2015 officially launched.

Over the next 37 days we can expect plenty of bold statements, lots of partisan accusations and endless footage of battle buses and rolled-up sleeves. The fight to win over the UK’s 42 million voters is well and truly on.

If politicians are clever, they’ll talk about fixing our housing crisis. Voters in the marginal seats – those key seats that will decide the outcome of the general election – are more likely … Read more

The politics of rent control

A debate is taking place about whether we should control – or cap – private rents in London.

With the 2016 Mayoral Election edging closer, this debate is heating up. Anyone throwing their hat into the ring is taking a view.

Shelter are currently looking at the technical implications of capping or controlling rents. But we also need to understand the political implications of this very public debate.

It is little wonder that renting dominates our capital’s discourse. The … Read more

London’s forgotten homeless

Question:

How have we got into a situation in London where being homeless could mean: 

a)      Living in insecure temporary accommodation for up to 23 years 

b)      Living in temporary accommodation up to 200 miles away 

c)       Subject to the benefit cap with a £100 per week shortfall, putting you at risk of arrears and eviction?

 

Answer: 

A heady combination of a housing shortage, inadequate government support with housing costs, some private landlords taking advantage of desperate councils, and the Read more

The tenants’ trap

Following the actions of Fergus and Judith Wilson hundreds of private renters have been served legal eviction notices– simply for receiving some housing benefit. According to the most recent National Landlords Association survey just one in five landlords let to people on benefits.

Those in desperate need may turn to their council for homelessness assistance. All local authorities in England have a legal duty to assist people who are homeless, or threatened with homelessness. As the loss of Read more

A more credible and efficient legal aid system?

The dust had barely settled on the last round of cuts to legal aid before the Government announced plans to reduce the budget yet further.

The new proposals include limitations on funding for judicial review cases, a key mechanism for challenging the lawfulness of decisions or actions of public bodies.

The majority of judicial review cases Shelter undertakes are where local authorities have refused to help a homeless person.

We often encounter families who have been denied support and … Read more

Homeless families to be hit twice by benefit cap

The overall benefit cap comes into force today, imposing a maximum ceiling on the amount of support a household can claim, regardless of need.

It’s popular but controversial, both sentiments stemming in large part from its simplicity: by adopting a single, national maximum, the policy ignores the wide variations in rent that exist across the country.

Ministers have already been quick to hail it a success, although their claim that it has directly encouraged families into work was equally … Read more

Homelessness rises as benefits are cut – coincidence?

Two days after George Osborne’s budget for an ‘aspiration nation’, with its focus on home ownership, today’s homelessness statistics reveal the reality for people at the sharp end of Britain’s housing crisis.

Homelessness acceptances are up 10% since 2011 to 53,450 households, 64% of them accepted because they’re families with dependent children. 

The number of households placed in B&B accommodation is up 26% to 4,000, including 1,690 families with children. The number of families stuck in B&Bs beyond the legal … Read more

At risk: one home in every street

Losing your home is one of the most traumatic things imaginable. At Shelter, we have always known this – but even we were shocked when recent research we commissioned from UCL showed that people consider losing their home almost on a par with the abduction of a child by a family member.

And the loss of a family home can have a devastating impact on children. This Christmas, 75,000 children in Britain will wake up homeless, living in temporary … Read more

A return to revolving-door homelessness?

Today marks a watershed in the entitlements of homeless people in England.

Measures in the Localism Act 2011 which come into force today mean that councils will no longer be legally required to offer homeless families and vulnerable people a secure home managed by a council or housing association landlord.

Instead, councils will be able to discharge their duties to homeless people with the offer of a suitable twelve-month tenancy with a private landlord, and homeless families will now end … Read more

Where the home is...

Many a time on this blog, emphasis has been put on how easy it is to lose a home. An unexpected event can throw things up in the air; a serious illness can prevent you paying the bills, the end of a relationship can spiral in the wrong direction.

Put simply, there’s only a frail safety net there which can be easily torn apart by life’s twists and turns.

At Shelter we believe that people who have become homeless should … Read more

Benefit cap: Homelessness threat or success story?

Today the Government lays regulations to bring the overall benefit cap into force from April 2013. This measure – which restricts the total amount of benefits an out-of-work family can receive to £26,000 a year –  proved to be one of the biggest flashpoints of recent welfare reform.

The Government lost a crunch vote that amended the cap to remove child benefit, although Ministers overturned it by citing financial privilege. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was forced to … Read more

Does private renting offer stability for homeless families?

As Research Manager for the Sustain study – a project exploring the use of the private rented sector to accommodate homeless people and those in housing need – I’ve found myself reflecting on how rare it is to see a large scale, explorative research project addressing a pressing social policy issue.

Sadly research budgets have been cut back across both government and charitable sectors at a time when evidence on the impact of huge policy changes is badly needed.

Sustain … Read more