Shake up to council duties to tackle homelessness starts today
Shake up to council duties to tackle homelessness starts today

From today, councils must change the way they help homeless people, as the Homelessness Reduction Act comes into force.

The new legislation is certainly needed. Homelessness in England has reached crisis point, as the tragic reports of people dying on our streets during the recent cold weather have brought into sharp focus.

Few of us can say we haven’t noticed an increase in men and women bedding down. Street homelessness has more than doubled in five years: last autumn over … 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

7 things to consider when communicating about welfare

You may have seen mine and Paul’s previous blogs about our campaign to soften public attitudes towards welfare, so that political parties will feel less emboldened to implement further cuts, and will work towards improving the system going forward.

We’ve just finished our second pilot of the campaign. We learnt from our target audience and applied some behaviour change theory to our campaigning approach. Here’s seven things we’ve learned (in no particular order).

        

1. Be authentic

The public can tell … Read more

The bedroom tax: court case should prompt government to scrap policy

A crucial judgement today on the bedroom tax creates complications for the government and means they will have to make changes to the policy. Ministers should look at the problems created by this measure and act to finally abolish it.

The Supreme Court today handed down a number of long-awaited judgements on the bedroom tax. They represent a victory for some social housing tenants but a setback for others.

The tenants, most of whom have a family member with disabilities, … Read more

Does business have a responsibility to support its employees with housing?

This blog was originally published as part of the The Great Business Debate. Visit the website to see the original post and join the debate.

The days of employers building houses for their workforce are long gone. Purpose built developments, such as George Cadbury’s Bourneville, are consigned to the past. But today, employees need support from their employers with housing more than ever.

We are in the midst of a housing crisis. The repeated failure of governments to build … 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

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 ‘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

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