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

We need a new generation of social rent homes
We need a new generation of social rent homes

Today, almost a year after we announced its launch on this blog, our commission on Social Housing delivers its final report: ‘Building for our Future: A Vision for Social Housing’.

This landmark report was put together by 16 independent commissioners, drawn from all walks of life and political persuasions. The commissioners were not a group of housing experts when they began this project, but every one of them brought experience, expertise and insight to this work. We cannot … Read more

Home advantage: why the Housing First model benefits all
Home advantage: why the Housing First model benefits all

This article is part of a series, ‘Shelter defending the right to a home’, that appears on theguardian.com

Offer a secure home to a homeless person and you’ll slash healthcare, probation and psychiatric nursing bills. The individual will flourish too.

“When you’re on the streets, you don’t sleep properly. You’re always on a heightened state of alert because you don’t know if you’re going to be urinated on, beaten, stabbed … I’ve had teeth knocked out, a piece of my … Read more

Legal aid: the missing cornerstone of renters’ rights
Legal aid: the missing cornerstone of renters’ rights

Access to justice is a fundamental human right – but one that is increasingly difficult to exercise.

Since the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO), thousands of people are unable to access legal advice for help with benefits and debt problems, or with other tenancy issues at an early stage – so much so that the number of new benefit cases opened under legal aid has dropped by 99% since 2013.

This means … Read more

Fitness for Human Habitation: An early Christmas present for renters
Fitness for Human Habitation: An early Christmas present for renters

Renters received a welcome Christmas present today, as the Fitness for Human Habitation Bill finally completed its journey through parliament. Let’s unwrap it…

The Bill revives legislation requiring homes to be ‘fit for human habitation’ at the start of the tenancy and to remain so throughout. Extraordinarily, this is a not a protection currently enjoyed by any renter – social or private – in England. Although landlords have responsibilities to do repairs, there are some glaring omissions – including, for … Read more

A united front to ending the LHA rate freeze
A united front to ending the LHA rate freeze

As we revealed last month, homelessness is continuing to rise. The causes and solutions to homelessness are heavily debated. But one thing is for sure – homelessness isn’t inevitable. It can be prevented.

Along with others, including local housing authorities, Shelter has long argued that benefits are to blame. Restrictions to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates are driving homelessness rates upwards. These increases are, also, making it difficult for local authorities to help families out of homelessness and … Read more

Only making longer tenancies the law will help low income renters
Only making longer tenancies the law will help low income renters

In the coming months, the government is due to report the results of its consultation on longer private tenancies. It will be our first chance to see whether the government will stick to its guns and change the law, so that all private renters get a longer tenancy and genuine security from no-fault ‘Section 21’ evictions.

In this post we’ll consider what will happen if the government loses its nerve by opting for a non-legislative, voluntary approach. If it … Read more

Revealed – the true scale of affordable housing lost to permitted development rights
Revealed – the true scale of affordable housing lost to permitted development rights

New analysis sheds light on the impact of a social housing get out clause in England. Our research estimates that urban authorities have missed out on over 10,000 affordable homes between 2015-16 and 2017-18.

In 2018, Theresa May promised a ‘new generation of council homes to help fix our broken housing market’. We welcome this, and the announcement of an additional £2 billion for housing associations to help deliver on it. With just under 6,500 socially rented houses delivered in … Read more