Kettle packs and extreme overcrowding: the realities of temporary accommodation

Having to feed your family while trapped in just one room, with nothing other than a kettle, isn’t something you’d expect to hear about in Britain in 2017.

But this sadly, was the reality for residents living in Buckinghamshire, where an explosion in the number of homeless families meant the council was forced to house those people in temporary accommodation (TA). Local foodbanks responded by putting together ‘kettle packs’, because all that was in the rooms to cook with were … Read more

Homelessness hits 300,000: we need your help today

Sleeping in a car at night is what most of us expect to have to do in order to keep a roof over our heads. Yet this is how John* coped after being thrown out of his flat by his landlord. John approached his local council for help after his landlord changed the locks to his home.

John was working, yet his low earnings wouldn’t allow him to find any affordable housing in the area. This time, the council was … Read more

The long-awaited letting fees ban

Last Wednesday, the government published the draft Tenant Fees Bill, setting out its approach to banning letting fees in England. Having campaigned for a ban on letting fees since 2013, this draft legislation is a welcome step towards finally bringing an end to these unjust fees.

Here’s an overview of the key things you need to know about the bill – and our initial reaction to the proposals. There’s also an explanation of the next steps and how we’ll … Read more

Time to build on cross party support to end viability loophole and make housebuilding popular again

We’ve been talking about the viability loophole for a while now, but our new research has shone a light on just how much of a problem it is. Last week, we revealed England is losing thousands of potential affordable homes each year through this loophole in the planning rules.

Happily, both major political parties are already committed to ending the use and abuse of this loophole.

Shelter isn’t alone on this. Local councils and communities across the country are … Read more

My experiences with renters facing homelessness

This is a guest blog from Louise, who works in Shelter’s Newcastle service.

As a support and guidance worker for Shelter in Newcastle, I want to share something urgent with you that we need your help with.

Over the last five years, the number of private renters I’ve seen facing homelessness has gone up and up. I’ve seen first-hand how this is connected to the freeze on Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

An opportunity we can’t miss

It used to be … Read more

Open letter to the chancellor calling for an end to the LHA freeze

We have blogged before about the continued freeze on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and our call to the chancellor has now been supported by over 30 homeless charities, faith leaders, MPs, and housing sector organisations.

LHA is the support that low-income families receive for private rented homes and it helps around 1.2 million households to keep a roof over their head. Since 2011, government reforms have seen the amount of money people can access for housing costs decrease, whilst rents … Read more

Working with law firms to deliver Pro Bono legal advice

This week (6–11 November) is National Pro Bono Week – a fitting time for us to launch our new service: the Shelter Legal Pro Bono Service.

It’s a new programme that gives more of our service users access to free legal advice. Although providing legal help has long been part of our offering, we’re now taking an innovative approach by working collaboratively with law firms.

Bridging the gap

The new service will enable us to increase our capacity for legal … Read more

Personalised plans – putting service users at the centre of new homelessness services

Today, we publish a new briefing on how local housing authorities should implement new duties to homeless people, which are due to come into force in April 2018 under the Homelessness Reduction Act. This includes the recommendations of an Expert Panel of Shelter service users, with lived experience of approaching their local housing authority for homelessness assistance.

From next spring, we’re set to see a big shake-up in the services councils are legally required to provide to people asking for … Read more

Grenfell Tower Fire update

It’s over four months since the fire at Grenfell Tower. It claimed at least 80 lives, devastated a community, and shocked the country.

Since it happened we’ve been working with those affected, as well as campaigning for the long-term changes needed to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.

Just after the fire, thousands of Shelter supporters contacted their MPs to demand that the community in West London – who have pulled together to care for each other – got … Read more

Toblerones and tenancies – 'shrinkflation' in the private rental sector

While it’s not been added to the Oxford English Dictionary yet, ‘shrinkflation’ isn’t a new concept for economics or housing. If you’re a fan of the triangular chocolate treat, you’ll be aware of the hoo-ha earlier this year when the makers of Toblerone effectively increased the cost of the product by putting less in the packet.

I don’t think I’m going too far by saying that many people felt the whole affair was a bit of a con.  It’s inflation … Read more

The high cost of viability assessments: 2,500 affordable homes lost in just one year

Over the last year, we’ve blogged many times about viability assessments, their role in cutting affordable homes, and the lack of transparency around how developers use them.

New research from Shelter shines a light on just how much damage this legal loophole is doing. Eleven councils covering nine English cities lost 2,500 affordable homes in just one year on schemes where developers used viability assessments. That’s equivalent to a 79% cut in desperately needed affordable homes to … Read more