Benefit cap: 'undoubtedly harsh' yet not unlawfully discriminatory
Benefit cap: 'undoubtedly harsh' yet not unlawfully discriminatory

Today, the Supreme Court has acknowledged that the household benefit cap is not achieving its stated aims and is inflicting poverty on people. However, the judges also declared (by a majority of 5-2) that the cap does not unlawfully discriminate against lone parents or breach the rights of their children.

The appeal this stems from was brought after the High Court found in 2017 that the cap unlawfully discriminated against lone parents with children under two – a decision that … Read more

Shelter Thames Valley: spotlight on our new Hub
Shelter Thames Valley: spotlight on our new Hub

Shelter’s Thames Valley office launched as our newest hub on 1 April, and we marked the occasion with a launch party and open day. ‘We threw it open to our service users, who came along and were absolutely fantastic, and to other partner agencies,’ service manager Jackqueline Hauxwell said. ‘We ensured that people could meet and mingle with the team.’

The Thames Valley Hub is located in the Council for Voluntary Services (CVS) Building at 27 Church Street, Slough. This … Read more

Permitted development scandal: homeless families put at risk
Permitted development scandal: homeless families put at risk

In the last few weeks, the controversial permitted development system has been receiving renewed media attention. This is partly because Labour, in a welcome move, have now pledged to scrap permitted development rights for the delivery of new homes.

This pledge comes off the back of reports last year, which highlighted the small, poor quality homes coming through the permitted development system, and a get-out clause that exempts schemes from providing vital social and affordable housing.

But, recent coverage of … Read more

Practical ways to help people sleeping rough
Practical ways to help people sleeping rough

Pointers and practical advice if you want to help people sleeping on the streets.

The number of people sleeping rough in England has gone up 165% since 2010. It’s a huge increase.

If you’re worried about someone sleeping on the streets, here are some practical ways to help.

Tell StreetLink

Let StreetLink know by sending them an online alert. Remember to have as much information as you can about the person’s exact location and appearance. The details you provide will … Read more

How we’re fighting the national housing emergency
How we’re fighting the national housing emergency

After Grenfell, we’re calling for a historic renewal of social housing.

Last year, we brought together 16 commissioners from different backgrounds and perspectives and across the political spectrum, to set out a vision for a bigger and better future for social housing. The commission was chaired by Reverend Dr Mike Long, Minister of Notting Hill Methodist Church, whose church played a significant role in the aftermath of the fire.

Calling for change

The final report was published this January, called … Read more

IFS: housing benefit bill signal of failed social housing policy. But we need it more than ever to hold back homelessness
IFS: housing benefit bill signal of failed social housing policy. But we need it more than ever to hold back homelessness

Yesterday’s article by the Director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), Paul Johnson, made a very welcome contribution to the growing debate that increasing social house building is the key to fixing our housing crisis. As our Social Housing Commission report showed, investment in social housing will reduce the spiralling cost of housing benefit. 

As the article points out, housing benefit gets considerably less coverage when it comes to debates about homelessness. We agree it’s about time housing benefit … Read more

Reshaping our Local Advice Services offering
Reshaping our Local Advice Services offering

As we described in a previous post, a key finding of our initial design research was the lack of clarity around Shelter’s service offering. One of our aims is to simplify the experience for users seeking help from Shelter. The Local Services redesign has been a challenging – yet useful – project that has helped us move closer to this goal. 

Last year we were asked to look at the part of our website dedicated to displaying … Read more

The real cost of legal aid cuts
The real cost of legal aid cuts

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has finally released its long-overdue report into the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). The act removed access to legal advice in all benefit and most debt cases overnight, drastically reducing the number of housing cases covered by legal aid. Now the MoJ concedes it has achieved just one of its four original objectives: to make significant savings to the legal aid bill.

We welcome the MoJ’s recognition … Read more

‘My baby’s first home was a hostel...’
‘My baby’s first home was a hostel...’

Francesca, a working mother from south London, gave birth to her baby son, Malachi while she was living in a hostel.

With help from our expert housing advisers, she was able to leave the hostel and create a better future for her children.

‘I lived in one room in a hostel from July 2014 until January 2015, with my 11-year-old daughter Cleo. My son Malachi was born while we were living there.

‘I had lived at home with my mum, … Read more

The Supreme Court considers intentional homelessness
The Supreme Court considers intentional homelessness

Last week, we intervened in a key case concerning homelessness, where a family who were evicted because of a Local Housing Allowance (LHA) shortfall took their challenge to the Supreme Court. (Samuels v Birmingham City Council UKSC 2017/0172). LHA is the housing benefit provided to those renting in the private sector. But, as a result of housing benefit policy and rapidly rising rents, the benefit provided increasingly does not cover the rents people have to pay.

Issues in the caseRead more
We can, and must end the rough sleeping emergency
We can, and must end the rough sleeping emergency

Rough sleeping remains dangerously high across the country. Statistics released today by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) show that we are still at an unprecedented level of crisis in the housing emergency. In 2018, there were 4,677 men and women sleeping rough on a given night in England. Although this has decreased by 2% in the last year, it has increased by 165% since 2010, when current records began.

But official statistics don’t capture the full … Read more

Don’t just vilify Fergus Wilson. Use him to justify change
Don’t just vilify Fergus Wilson. Use him to justify change

Fergus Wilson clearly enjoys the attention that being a hate figure brings.

In the last five years, he’s gone out of his way looking for publicity for his mass evictions and controversial – sometimes unlawful – lettings policies.

But in the wake of a new round of newspaper reports on his decision to evict 90 of his tenants, including nine families with children under ten, it should be clear that vilifying him isn’t enough.

Treating him like a panto … Read more