A new Planning Bill - why it matters

The announcement of a new Planning Bill in the Queen’s Speech hasn’t grabbed many, if any, headlines – and to be fair it was never going to. Whilst planning may not be on the 6 o’clock news, it matters to us and, hopefully, this new Bill will be a further step towards building the homes we need.

No matter what Shelter does – whether it’s helping people facing bad housing or homelessness or campaigning to improve conditions – the … Read more

Need a new place to rent? Try Dodgy Lettings.

Did you know there’s a brand new lettings agent website for people needing a new home?

Dodgy Lettings cuts through the jargon, shows renters what to look out for and what to avoid. This video also shows the kind of service you can expect from their friendly staff.

Ok, you’ve got us – it isn’t a real lettings agent website, just a spoof one we’ve set up to show how bad renting can be.

There are no sunset filled pics … Read more

When letting agents go bust: the need for client money protection

When you think about it, renters take a number of risks when they start a new tenancy. For a start, they hand over hundreds of pounds to letting agents in deposit and rent payments, trusting that this will get them a safe and decent home to live in.

Our research, published yesterday, shows that renters typically handover £600 in deposits alone.

Landlords also put their trust in agents who, by law, have to put deposits in official protection schemes. … Read more

Homeless Households and Benefit Cap Amendments

In the Welfare Reform & Work Bill, Shelter is seeking an amendment that takes homeless households out of the benefit cap while they get back on their feet, just as they are if someone loses their job. The case for giving the same protections to people facing homelessness is self-evident; why should losing your home be regarded as any less important than losing your job?

To that end, Lord Best, an independent Cross Bench Peer, has tabled a strong amendment … Read more

Discretionary Housing Payments – why this quick fix won’t last long

Recent, near-constant tinkering with welfare has resulted in many people losing vital support – either by design (as with bedroom tax trying to force people to downsize) or accident (like those living in areas where rents are rising but where local housing allowance remains frozen).

Remember those who lose out are already struggling to get by and that means they are likely to struggle even more, putting them at increased risk of homelessness. Therefore, people need help to cope, either … Read more

The Welfare Bill - Cause for Concern

This afternoon, MPs will be debating the Welfare Reform & Work Bill in the House of Commons. Despite this being “2nd Reading”, it is the first official opportunity for politicians to welcome the bits they like and raise concerns about the ones they don’t.

Meanwhile, ministers will be present in the Commons to listen to all of the concerns raised – from their own MPs, the Opposition and the smaller parties. And, crucially, having listened closely to the debate, the … Read more

Emergency Budget 2015: Housing (doesn't) Benefit

What does the budget mean for the people Shelter helps every day?

Housing benefit has long been in the sights of the Treasury. Suspicious of its costs but reluctant to tackle the lack of affordable homes driving it, George Osborne has singled out support for housing costs for substantial cuts. There were welcome measures on reducing tax breaks for landlords and lower social rents for some, but overall the budget was pretty bleak.

Local Housing Allowance

The major housing announcement … Read more

Don’t worry – we’re on it

The summer or ‘emergency’ budget on July 8th is going to be painful – it is at this point we will find out where the axe will fall, how hard, and on who.

Sadly, there is already a group of people who we know will be singled out for cuts; young people claiming housing benefit. The Conservatives have been floating the idea of removing support for young people in various forms since 2012. Originally, it was all 18-25 year olds … Read more

After May 7th – What happens on welfare?

I probably don’t need to tell you that last week was dominated by the launch of the main parties’ manifestos; it was pretty hard to ignore the leaders’ efforts to get the biggest possible splash for their election commitments.

But tellingly, there were no new headline policies on welfare. Although public support for the principle of a safety net remains strong, people are still concerned by the parts they think are open to abuse. Policies that seek to address these … Read more

Local Welfare: How you helped win back £74 million

I wanted to share some good news…

After looking like we’d lose it entirely, and a year of campaigning, we’ve been thrown a lifeline of a £74 million pounds to help keep local welfare schemes funded.

Making the case for welfare spending can be a pretty thankless task and positive news stories are few and far between. But this U-turn shows that if we use our first-hand experience to demonstrate exactly how local support can help homeless families back … Read more

Local Welfare: Last Chance Saloon

After almost a year of wrangling, the final decision on local welfare funding is about to be made. All consultations are now closed, a decision is imminent and things don’t look good.

Local welfare has ended up in the last chance saloon.

The whole sorry saga almost defies belief; a departmental stitch up, a coalition split, a judicial review, a ministerial stand-off, numerous disingenuous consultations, and a smoke and mirrors “identified” funding trick. A plot with more … Read more

Local Welfare Cuts: A Risky Business

This Thursday, the consultation on the Local Government Finance Settlement closes. This is the last chance for councils to have a say before their budgets for 2015-2016 are handed down from DCLG.

Within the settlement, funding for local welfare has been cut from around £180 million to £0.

Instead, £129 million has been ‘identified’ from within council’s budgets, which ministers say councils can use to maintain the schemes. This isn’t new money, it’s from the budgets council have to … Read more