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

London’s forgotten homeless


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?



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 Immigration Bill- bad for renters and bad for landlords

The Immigration Bill is currently making its way through the House of Lords. The Bill instructs private landlords to check renters’ immigration status. At Shelter, we are all for a more regulated private rented sector but this measure will make an already difficult, expensive, and over-heated rental market even worse for people with few good options open to them.

We know that the private rented sector is already under immense pressure: more people are renting and more renters are … Read more

Rewarding rogues?

This afternoon Shelter and Crisis are launching Sustain: a longitudinal qualitative research study of people’s wellbeing and outcomes in private rented sector housing. The study spent 19 months tracking the experiences and wellbeing of 128 people who had been rehoused in the private rented sector following a period of homelessness. It found that these people are frequently living in shocking conditions:

Every home had a condition problem. The majority of people had to deal with problem landlords. Some people… Read more
What we talk about when we talk about fraud

There are two tactics in the welfare reform debate that I’d like to call a moratorium on. One is invoking the spirit of Beveridge to talk about reforming the purpose of social security. Why hark back to a blueprint from 70 years ago? Social and economic conditions have changed enormously since then. The second is offering reassurances that fraud “only” represents a tiny amount of benefit expenditure.

The statistic that only two per cent of benefit expenditure is lost to … 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

The ‘Unrentables’

It might sound like a bad cartoon movie, but it’s becoming real life: the ‘unrentables’ are a subset of the 10 million renters in Britain, who find it increasingly hard to find a landlord that will rent a property to them. Impossibly high rents in some parts of the country mean more and more people in work are needing housing benefit (HB) to meet housing costs, a trend that shows no sign of slowing. Over a third (34%) of those Read more

Rachel- why campaigning matters

On Saturday afternoon I treated myself to a leg wax. Probably too much information for a policy blog but it provides context, I promise.

My beauty therapist was called Rachel,* and we had a chance to chat during the appointment.

Rachel is the reason that Shelter campaigns to fix private renting. Let me explain.

Rachel is moving house this weekend- she had been asked to leave her flat by her landlord. She was midway through a 12 month fixed … Read more

Bedroom tax legal, but not right. Shelter analysis of today’s court ruling

Attempts to moderate the worst impacts of the bedroom tax have suffered a set-back after the High Court ruled that the policy making process did not disproportionately discriminate against disabled people. If you are disabled, have severely disabled children or are at risk of violence, the hope for protection has now shifted back to politicians and campaigners. It has become even more important that national political leaders offer support, or they will bear responsibility for the emerging consequences of this … Read more

Scrutiny of benefit bill should trigger building, not cuts

After lots of policy posturing over the last few years, Ed Miliband’s speech today set out the clearest indication yet on what a Labour government would do on welfare, a sensitive and tricky issue for the party.

The main points from the speech were that the Labour party is now going to be using the term ‘social security’ instead of ‘welfare’, they are looking into an overall cap on welfare spending, and were crystal clear that the housing benefit bill … Read more

Small-scale Universal Credit pilot dodges crucial tests

If Betsy Duncan Smith had been in a humorous mood when the Work and Pensions Secretary arrived home on Monday night, she could have screened the movie Ghostbusters.

Day one of Universal Credit reminded me of that scene where the office has opened, the staff are primed – and then they wait and wait for the phone to ring.

So far no one has come forward to actually claim Universal Credit, the cornerstone of the coalition’s welfare reform policy.

This … 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