Things to be cheerful about

2014 has been a big year for housing and homelessness – and consequently a big year for Shelter.

As well as helping people on the front-line of bad housing and homelessness, our job is to campaign for change on the root causes of these problems. Often this means that you hear from us about bad things that are happening. As they say, “good news is no news”, so successes don’t tend to get much publicity – especially as they’re often behind-the-scenes steps towards a bigger goal. Nevertheless, we are making changes that have a huge impact on people’s lives.

Before we head into the general election demanding action from politicians on our housing crisis, let’s take a moment to recognise what we’ve achieved in 2014.

Politicians are starting to listen

  • Housing has consistently been in the public’s top 5 national issues with YouGov – above crime, pensions and Europe.
  • Both David Cameron and Ed Miliband talked about the need to build more homes in their party conference speeches this year.
  • For the first time in a generation, housing is a key issue heading into the election.

Defending the housing safety net

Welfare benefits and legal protections for those facing homelessness have been hard hit in recent years, with terrible consequences for people already struggling to make ends meet. In 2014, we have campaigned hard to reverse some of the worst of these changes, as well as prevent others happening.

  • Stopped the Legal Aid residence test

This year, the government attempted to introduce a strict, complex residence test for Legal Aid, which would have meant a person would have to prove their immigration status in order to receive Legal Aid in a housing case. This could have meant that British citizens who didn’t have the correct paperwork would be unable to get Legal Aid. Shelter gave evidence in a case that led to the withdrawal of this test, and the courts judged the restrictions as “unauthorised, discriminatory, and impossible to justify.”

  • Secured amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill

This Bill would make it difficult for Shelter and other organisations to challenge any unlawful decisions made in homelessness cases. Shelter effectively lobbied members of the House of Lords to make amendments to this bill, meaning that we can keep on challenging unlawful council decisions and help thousands of people avoid homelessness.

  • Helped grow opposition to the “Bedroom Tax”  

We’ve intervened to challenge the bedroom tax in court in an attempt to make it less harmful to the most vulnerable households. Thanks partly to our influence, even more organisations and politicians now oppose the “bedroom tax”.

  • Made sure people got help with housing costs they were entitled to

Earlier this year, a glitch in the government’s computer system meant that some people suddenly stopped receiving housing benefit payments that they were entitled to. After these people came to us for help, we alerted the government, who have now pledged to stop this happening.

  • Eased debt collection for struggling renters

This year, the government proposed to increase the amount of people’s benefit that could be deducted to pay back rent arrears from 5% to a shocking 40% – leaving people desperately short of money to live on. With the help of thousands of Shelter supporters, we helped to secure a reduction in the rate from 40% down to 10%-20%. Still too much, but it could have been much worse for some families if the original proposals had gone ahead.

  • Stopped the removal of Housing benefit for under 25s 

In partnership with others, we successfully stopped this proposal becoming policy when it was first proposed in 2012 and 2013. Although this idea has recently been revived, its scope has been reduced, meaning it would only impact 18 -21s, rather than under 25s. This is something we’ll continue to challenge next year to prevent it becoming government policy.

Getting affordable homes built

House-building rates have been low over the last thirty years but this year we made some very important first steps towards turning things around.

  • £2bn more for building affordable homes

The government announced £2 billion of funding to increase affordable housing by two years to 2020. This is an important sign of housing’s growing importance, and we’re still keeping up the pressure to get more money spent on affordable homes, including social housing. 

  • Setting the agenda on getting affordable homes built

We published a report with KPMG that shows ways that politicians can build the homes we need. The report has helped shape the policy debate in the run up to the election and lots of our recommendations are already part of the agenda for government and political parties.

  • Promoting different building styles

Shelter helped Richard Bacon MP to draft the Self-Build and Custom House Building Bill 2014-15, which would make councils keep registers of people and community groups who want to design and build their own homes, and provide land for them. The bill had its second reading debate on 24 October 2014.

  • Space standards in new homes

In 2013, Shelter joined RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) to campaign for minimal space standards (to stop developers building new housing that is too small) Happily – and against the odds – the Government have now agreed, and the standards will come into force early this year.

  • Wolfson Economics Prize

In October Shelter came runner-up in the Wolfson Economics Prize 2014 – the second largest economics prize in the world – to design a new garden city. Our proposal, prepared with KPMG, Legal & General and PRP Architects, showed that the government  can deliver properly affordable housing and all the infrastructure needed for a great place to live, with minimal government spending.

Improving the Private Rented Sector

  • Tenancies Reform bill

Following a successful campaign from Shelter, with support from other organisations, Sarah Teather MP took forward a Private Members Bill to protect renters from revenge evictions. This bill had won government and cross party support. Unfortunately, the Bill was blocked at the second reading by two MPs who chose to talk it out. However the Liberal Democrats have now added amendments to the Deregulation Bill, which, if approved, would protect renters from revenge evictions.

  • Long-term tenancies

After finally agreeing that something had to be done to improve stability for renters, the government launched family friendly tenancy agreement in October. The Labour party have also said they will introduce mandatory three year tenancies if they form the next government.

  • Letting agency fees

The Government has followed our recommendations by making sure that letting agents now have to publish a full tariff of their fees on their websites and in their offices. Letting agencies who do not comply with these new rules will now face a fine of up to £5000. Meanwhile, Labour have announced that they will ban letting agent fees for renters if they are elected in 2015.

  • Regulating letting agents

In response to our calls, the government now demands that all letting agents are required to be a member of a redress scheme; an independent agency that renters can complain to if they aren’t happy with their letting agent. Letting agencies who fail to do this could face a maximum fine of up to £5000.

  • Immigration Act

The Government planned to introduce a law that would force landlords to investigate the immigration status of renters. Shelter argued that landlords should not be doing the job of border officials and that this could cause many British citizens and legal migrants to be discriminated against. The law is now only being piloted in one area.

And finally….

While we’re still a long way from ending our housing crisis, Shelter, our supporters and partners can be very proud of important progress in 2014, which forms a strong base for us to build on as we head into the 2015 election – and beyond.

 

Tell us your thoughts on social housing, to get your voice heard at a national level

Had a bad housing experience? Share your story, to help us campaign for real change

Want to take action? Help us be there for every person who needs us

14 Comments
  1. 31.01.2015

    To The Police .

    We hereby making allegations of abuse , harassment & of
    being harass , violent intentions of removing us from the property , threats of
    violence made and applying continuing pressure to force us to leave ,we now block
    the doors at night and keep all looks on with myself up at night in case of an
    attack , not maintaining the property to safe standard,
    putting our life’s at risk, continuing
    criminal offences of fraudulent papers which have been submitted to the
    county court under a section 21(4)a Notice , fraudulent
    gas certificates submitted to HSE
    , TDS certificates with information changed breaking Housing Acts 2004
    & 2008 , chapter 4 section 10 of the Housing Act 2004 & 2008 section
    212 & 213 & 214 & 215 , (act of fraud) trying to prevent us applying the law for
    compensation of Deposits , submitted to us fraudulent invoices Of TDS certificates from the Landlord ( Harassment and being
    harass )with which are under investigation with TDS Mydepoist.co.uk and have been confirmed fraudulent . act of
    fraud committed, investigation still continuing . The court is aware of the
    actions and has been made aware that the police have been called in by us that
    the court has ordered a directions hearing.

    We are being forced out of our home and out from Broughton
    Astley which we did not want to do but owning to the pressure we are being
    force to leave and have no choice. We demand that the police take action as
    this is a criminal offence & offences
    that have been committed and continuing to be committed , We have
    evidence in the form of Cd`s pictures and reports and of the above to date. The landlord with her husband and third
    parties are all involved and continuing involvement to remove us from the house

    Kind regards on behalf of Mrs reneta Lockyear , Michael
    Lockyear , my mother in Law of 66 years
    old & 5 year old son
    Yes we putting up a fight , we are in court , I have studied the Housing acts 2004 & 2008 and all the rest with the help of shelter team and bill giving us support when I am down but with all the hard work the section 21 (4)a notice is now a hearing for march 2105 , looking at pushing it to the High Court , it can be done , my advice keep records , I went that bit more recording between myself and the landlord .pictures and more of disrepair , Gas HSE, and above . so if you a tenant fight back , MP`s who ever .

    Michael Lockyear

    1. How are you getting on,hope your winning?

      1. went to court on the 10/03/2015 , good result for us in court did not have to pay cost to the landlord, in one way but had to leave the house because of carbon monoxide problem from the fireplace as the landlord did not up keep the house to a safe stranded , it was closed down by national grid on the 28/02/2015 , it was a close one could have been a loss of life in the family I found myself falling asleep on the floor within a few hours of the fireplace running and my wife trying to wake me up , it was the same with my wife but she would fall asleep within 30-45 min of the fireplace being turned on , and henryjames my 5 year old has been sick and complained of his head spinning and also I have found hard to wake up him up and there have times when I could not wake up my wife when the gas fire was on but on turning off the gas fire off I would leave her to wake up on her own which she would wake up being sick with a spinning head which would last all day and for the following days and weeks with out end you do not realize what or when it is happing to you or the signs of carbon monoxide , I know now , the landlord is going to have a big problem with me and the cover up of fraudulent gas certificates that was placed with HSE on complaints that I made with HSE and the landlord back in April 2014 , I have lost almost a year of work and my enjoyment of going forward with coaching with snooker because of this on-going fight with the landlord , its not over yet
        even that we left the house I am going to win I want my rent money back of over £21.000 and more on despair , I want HSE to take the landlord to court £20.000 fine for each breach of the law (HSE) 5 in all total not bad and 2 years imprisonment and my own claims of the deposit 14 breach’s x 2 -3 times of the deposit of £500 for each breach , 14 x £1500 pounds and lots more of the housing laws being broken , we almost lost our life’s because of the rough landlord the fight is not over until I win and I will win. pass this on to everyone on Facebook and twitter as the housing crisis is picking up a speed you are not safe when it comes to renting in the UK last year it was over 9 million people renting with a 25% increase in buy to let of new landlords or the expansion of the renting market that’s means an increase of all most or around 2 million on last years 9 million and every street across the uk more and more to let signs go up across the uk and trying to buy a house or home is almost impossible with saving money for the deposit and living with your mum and dad unit you are in your 30s to almost 40s with the stranded of cheap housing being built of a low stranded and cost to much and over time people are being priced out of the housing market and it is moving up the ladder of high earners , I am having people coming to me with their concerns of poor renting , story’s of complaints of landlords and renting from agents who are looking at ripping off the tenants on the end of a contract on deposits ,the TDS deposits are full of holes your deposits are not safe even if they back by the government they are still a company that’s all on which I have found out with my deposit with the fight of my rough landlord, renting without gas certificates section 21 notice which over 300.000 of evictions of landlords removing tenants destroying lives because of complaints of disrepair and fixing problems and non payment of rent which some of the problems have been of the government on payments on claims of housing benefits , concerns of high earners putting the hands in the pockets and the middle class and at every level of the our society trying to get on the housing ladder people being push out of London and other city’s across the uk because of housing investment from over seas and greed of money of landlords pushing up the housing price and rents and you helping the children digging deeper and deeper into the pockets of old money that is running out which I have seen at first hand of my sister pearl and brother law Gus help the children in their family with losing money before the housing crisis coming to a head and other family’s doing the same with their children paying out of over £20,000 for each £100.000 you want to borrow for your children with new leading rules with housing prices going up and over time this in the future you will be all be digging into your pockets deeper to the sum of £25.000 then £30.000 per £100.000 with the income going down of people working that many people are leaving this land for a better life with people coming in to replace the jobs left behind at lower wage ending with less income of tax for the government just because government cannot put a stage by stage plan that works or adjust to work for the housing or anything else that the government control and with the presser building on the government to come up with the answerer to the problem with the housing on which they do not have a clue because of the present land laws and housing acts on which I am picking up information of prime future building land which is being held back and more up and down the country (Broughton Astley with its future housing which has been going for years ) , what you need to know is only 10% of the land in the uk is covered by housing and there plenty of land for more building of green housing and replacing the lost woodland and trees , have you notice house prices higher when there is more trees around , land in surrey ,places in Essex Chelmsford and the midlands even in London and city’s look in your paper , so what is the answer ? you going to say there not one , but yes there is I am building a plan , one for renting as landlords & agents need to be put under control of some system which at this stage of the housing crisis is the most and the bigger of the housing problem that is on the rise which needs to be stopped , one for housing that will put people in work and so people can buy their own homes at any age yes any age . that the demand would be so high for housing you would need workers from aboard just to keep up the building of housing the government will get more in tax and it is safe investment for every one , the system is based on my findings within the uk from the Muslim and other parts of our society including government back housing on which I have put together mixed the plan which can be put in p[lace to help all people at levels from the homeless to people who want move up the ladder and over time will bring the cost of building homes down asa the plan has a manufacturing system behind it of the martials the house is just a product just like anything else but people that live in the house it there home to build a life on a family home that people should be safe with ,My landlord let my family live in hell from this I cannot get the money for the deposit of buying a house and the banks will not look at me because of my age which your find out when get to that 35 -40s I have first hand been and done it I know what is going to happen to the future housing and to you all , yes everyone has got an answerer to the housing problem it just needs to put in place stage by stage that’s works at each stage and if it does not change it so it does work .

        Take care on all that read this , think about it, let me know , pass it on its about time someone put something together lets all work on the idea of good housing helping the 90.000 children without a home and family’s who want to own their home before you in your 40s lets give not hope but a future that works

        Michael Lockyear , ps anyone with a snooker table so I can get my head out of the housing crisis and put my head down between 6 pockets .
        . .

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        Angie Jones and Susan Cabalquinto Lippo like this.

        1. Glad you are alive,landlords think life is paid monthly.

          1. I have post your email on my website please can you give me more details of your story and where or what place in the uk , we all fed up and I am building a campaign on renting and housing . let the others 60 know about my website Michael .
            http://www.tenantsnightmare.website

        2. I think you all had a lucky escape even though it should not happen.Landlords are getting away with murder nowadays because nobody checks up on them.
          We were given supported housing due to the fact my wife is registered as partially sighted and in 18 months they have moved us 3 times through no fault of our own,any support they were supposed to give us was non existent and they have now given all their tenants notice to quit about 60 households in total.
          We are now going down the legal route but its hard work as you know!
          Good luck winning your case because every win shows up the rental market for what it is, a huge scam.
          Can not help with a snooker table sadly but hopefully someone can.
          Best of luck to you and your family.

  2. what about ludicrous estate agent fees? and houses listed by agents that are not fit to live in???

  3. Angelina yes I know all about the estate agents I know all the tricks as well what they can use , I am looking for support if we going to win we need to support each other and fight back

  4. Ian Brunsdon I have post your email on my website there is a link( I think you all had a lucky escape ) Michael

    1. Hi Michael.
      The Housing Ass are Fern housing they are now based at Withywood in Bristol and they have a website sorry don’t have that but anyone can just google Fern Housing Bristol.
      What they did was lease out houses for private owners to people in need of Supported accomodation charged the council nearly £1000 per month,gave the private owner half and were supposed to provide Supported care for the rest.In one year my wife saw them 5 times for about 10mins each time. I cant give any details for any other tenants because they are scattered throughout Bristol.
      cheers
      Ian

  5. My congratulations to Shelter on the many successes you have achieved to date. I have been following the topic of housing throughout the TV interviews and debates and was surprised that nobody raised the issue of the private landlords and agency practice of refusing applicants who receive housing benefits. Not only does this negate the intended purpose of these benefits but it further exacerbates an already serious problem and, in my view, is no less discriminatory than the legal aid residency test.

  6. Hello Michael, I had a look at your site which is a bit everywhere, I understand your cause and would be willing to sort your site out for you contact me through my site http:tradecertificates.co.uk if you wish to take this up

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