Campaigning to bring safe, secure and affordable homes to all isn’t an easy mission. However, with your support last year we took some massive steps to getting there. Not only for the thousands we help on a day-to-day basis across the country through our advice and service provision, but also for the millions who stand to benefit from some of our campaigning achievements last year.
Here’s a shortlist of our campaigning highlights from 2017.
Building more homes
Throughout the year we saw a considerable investment in affordable house-building, including an increase in money allocated to the Affordable Homes Programme, specifically for new social rented homes. We also saw a reaffirmed commitment to building more homes at a greater scale than we currently are. As part of the 2017 Autumn Budget, the chancellor announced an increase to the current house-building target from 250,000 per year to 300,000. As well as making more public money available to boost supply overall.
Ban on letting agent fees
We asked supporters to tell us about some of their experiences with letting agent fees, and received over 300 responses. These responses were then presented as evidence to a government consultation on letting agent fees as to why the fees needed to be banned.
In November 2017 the government published the draft Tenant Fees Bill, setting out its proposals to banning letting fees in England. The two key changes in this bill include a ban on all upfront letting fees and a cap on deposits, benefiting approximately 900,000 private renters who will save an average of £350 per year.
It’s been years in the making, but we’re ecstatic that the government is committed to its promise of banning these unnecessary and unhelpful fees.
You can read Rhea’s blog for a breakdown of the government proposals.
Local Housing Allowance
Prior to the Autumn Budget announcement, we campaigned for the government to lift the freeze on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) – a type of housing benefit people receive to help cover their rent in the private rented sector. Lifting the freeze on LHA would help prevent over a million households from being at risk of becoming homeless by 2020.
We created a petition to remove the LHA freeze which was signed by 52,193 supporters like yourself, with a further 6,872 writing to their MPs, and a few people also meeting their MPs directly to ask them to back the campaign. While we didn’t see LHA totally unfrozen, government did announce an increase to the Targeted Affordability Fund (TAF) by £125m – a pot of money that will increase LHA rates in areas hardest hit by the freeze.
The general election
During the 2017 general election we campaigned hard to make housing a priority issue amongst MPs. We provided supporters with questions and research to discuss with MPs canvassing for votes – ensuring MPs recognised how important housing was to constituents in their community and the election data shows how private renters truly had a massive impact on the election results.
You can read Steve’s blog for an in-depth analysis into how housing affected the election results.
Homelessness is rising because of short-term rentals. Eviction from a private (assured shorthold) tenancy accounts for 78% of the rise in homelessness since 2011 so we campaigned to make longer rental contracts the standard for renters. This would finally offer private renters a chance at stability and security and the cycle of unwarranted evictions many face.
Longer rental contracts were a key feature in the manifestos of the three leading parties and the government announced in the 2017 Autumn Budget that it was actively looking for ways to encourage longer rental contracts – which is still far off the legal change the UK needs, but welcome steps nevertheless.
Homelessness Reduction Act
In 2017 we saw the Royal Assent of the Homelessness Reduction Act.
The legislation will place a new duty on councils to assess and ‘take reasonable steps’ to help all who are threatened with homelessness and eligible for assistance.
This tasks councils with a much more pre-emptive responsibility to address homelessness before it happens.
The legislation comes into force April 2018.
These achievements are really just a shortlist of last year’s successes and none of them would have been possible without the support, time or energy from you.
So, from everyone at Shelter, and on behalf of all the people we continue to improve housing for, thank you!
We hope you’ll continue to support our work in 2018.
- Support our current campaign to make homes fit for human habitation – sign the petition