Universal Credit: Rollout speeds up but leaves problems in its wake

A key parliamentary committee has re-launched an inquiry into Universal Credit after receiving disturbing evidence of the problems encountered by tenants from councils. The government should use the opportunity to listen to the concerns of tenants and landlords who are dealing with the worrying fallout of the once ‘flagship’ welfare reform.

In January this year, nearly half a million people were claiming Universal Credit. Despite repeated delays and timetables slipping back, the rollout of the combined benefit is ramping up … Read more

Campaigning to fix renting in Greater Manchester

On 4th May, residents will elect the first Mayor of Greater Manchester. The Mayor will represent the 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester, and will have a range of new powers, including over housing.

Building on our Fix Renting campaign during the London Mayoral Election last year, we’ve been considering how we campaign at a more regional level. Sadly, we simply don’t have the resource to do something in every area, or campaign on every local issue. But the Greater Manchester … Read more

Time to drop the ‘hated’ ban on housing benefit for 18-21s

Reports over the weekend suggest Ministers and advisers are looking again at controversial plans to bar 18-21s from claiming housing benefit. The current government inherited highly risky plans to prevent younger people receiving housing support under Universal Credit, with the ban due to take effect in a little over four weeks.

Shelter and others have warned of the devastating risks for those unable to stay with family who will be left without any safety net. There are many reasons why … Read more

Can Haringey’s housing development vehicle provide a case study in joint ventures?

Haringey’s proposal to combine forces with a private developer to regenerate and develop council owned land has gone from local controversy to national talking point. At Shelter we tend not to comment on specific development proposals and instead focus our resources on ensuring that people affected locally can access advice and support. But Haringey’s proposals are large scale and contain some particularly interesting mechanisms.

There are three elements to Haringey’s plans:

The creation of a housing development vehicle (HDV), a… Read more
What is the bold vision for preventing homelessness now?

Last week, the Government launched it’s ‘bold, radical vision for housing in this country’ via its Housing White Paper. The Prime Minister rightly acknowledges that ‘building the homes we need will take time’, so the ‘Government will continue to help people now by doing more to prevent homelessness and to help households currently priced out of the market’. So what more will be done now to prevent homelessness?  And why isn’t local housing allowance barely given a mention?

There … Read more

Longer rental contracts: how would they work? FAQs

Everyone needs a stable home. It gives you security and the chance to plan for the future. Yet, if you’re living on six to 12 month contracts – which are the norm for renters – life can be uncertain and unpredictable. In order to end this insecurity and make sure renting families have a stable home, Shelter is calling on the government to increase the legal minimum for a rental contract to five years.

Since we first launched our campaign Read more

Why we're joining forces with Mumsnet

Our campaign for longer rental contracts has attracted a huge level of support, mostly from families with young children.

Everyone needs a stable home. It gives you security and the chance to plan for the future. Yet, if you’re living on six to 12 month contracts – which are the norm for renters – life can be uncertain and unpredictable.

The number of families who privately rent their homes has tripled over the past ten years, and many of these … Read more

Insecure private renting leaves families worried and unsettled. Let’s fix it

Private renting in England is exceptionally insecure. After the end of a typical six or twelve month contract, renters have no guarantee that their landlord will renew their tenancy or whether they will be asked to leave.

As a result, renters worry about losing their home and are put under financial strain by frequent moves. Ultimately renting insecurity is helping to fuel rising homelessness – and loss of a private rented tenancy is now the leading cause of homelessness.

This … Read more

A clear ban on letting agent fees is the only way to fix an unfair market

The housing white paper reaffirmed the government’s commitment to ban unfair letting agency fees charged to tenants. This will be welcome reassurance to any tenant nervous about the lack of action since the chancellor promised the ban in November last year.

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) officials are currently preparing a consultation on exactly how the ban will work, which the white paper confirmed would be launched early this year.

How the ban is framed will be crucial … Read more

Is Right to Rent causing discrimination? The government ought to do some investigating

A report published yesterday suggests that the Right to Rent policy could be causing discrimination in the rental market. The government should use its upcoming private landlord survey to research whether its policy is leading to some unintended consequences.

It has been just over a year since a new law was rolled out in England to force landlords check their tenants’ immigration status. The Right to Rent scheme, part of the government’s multi-pronged approach to cracking down on illegal immigration, … Read more

Government wakes up to abuse of the leasehold system - but this is just a symptom of a bigger problem

The recent Housing White Paper included a welcome promise that the Government will consult on measures to tackle unfair and unreasonable abuses of the leasehold system. There has been a steady stream of media coverage in recent months of new build homebuyers finding themselves trapped by spiralling increases of the ground rents they are required to pay on top of their mortgage. It’s good to see Government taking steps to help those homeowners directly affected by this – but worth … Read more

White Paper signals a genuine shift towards greater land data transparency

Measures to improve transparency over land ownership, control and use in yesterday’s Housing White Paper are extremely welcome – and not a moment too soon. Before Christmas, Shelter set out our case for greater land market transparency – so how do the government’s proposals measure up?

Overall, there was a marked shift in tone in yesterday’s White Paper, towards opening up information on our land and development markets for the benefit of local authorities, communities, and new entrants. The … Read more