Pride versus stigma in social housing as the Big Conversation gets underway
Pride versus stigma in social housing as the Big Conversation gets underway

This week, the commissioners who are leading Shelter’s Big Conversation into the future of social housing met for the second time. They reviewed the evidence that’s begun to come in– including interim findings from interviews with social tenants – and started to sketch out the direction their recommendations will take.

It was a wide-ranging discussion and we’re excited about the ambition of the commissioners. They met with survivors and bereaved people from Grenfell earlier this month, and the message they … Read more

Housing First: what so many street homeless people need
Housing First: what so many street homeless people need

Last week’s announcement from the new Secretary of State of funding for three Housing First pilots in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, and the West Midlands Combined Authority is very welcome.

We have long advocated a Housing First approach as a solution for many of the homeless and excluded people with multiple and complex needs with whom we work. In 2016, we launched a two-year Housing First pilot in Manchester, which was recently extended to a small scheme for women … Read more

Have your say – make sure more affordable homes get built
Have your say – make sure more affordable homes get built

Why are we missing out on so many affordable homes in the UK?

Only 41,530 were built in 2016 and 2017, despite the national housing crisis. One big reason for this is that developers and landowners are making promises on affordable homes that they know they can break – and this needs to stop.

Using the viability loophole, they can wriggle out of their commitments to build affordable homes, often before building work starts. They do this by saying that … Read more

Big changes looming for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) scheme
Big changes looming for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) scheme

This week brings a fundamental change in welfare support for struggling homeowners. For more than 70 years, homeowners, who have low incomes and who receive certain qualifying benefits, have been able to claim support from the government, through Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).

However, from 6 April 2018 this support is changing. Rather than being paid as a free benefit, SMI will now be paid as a loan and any money claimed from this date onwards will one day need … Read more

Shake up to council duties to tackle homelessness starts today
Shake up to council duties to tackle homelessness starts today

From today, councils must change the way they help homeless people, as the Homelessness Reduction Act comes into force.

The new legislation is certainly needed. Homelessness in England has reached crisis point, as the tragic reports of people dying on our streets during the recent cold weather have brought into sharp focus.

Few of us can say we haven’t noticed an increase in men and women bedding down. Street homelessness has more than doubled in five years: last autumn over … Read more

Government drops removal of housing benefit for 18-21s
Government drops removal of housing benefit for 18-21s

Today, the government made a welcome step towards helping young people escape homelessness. The Work and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey, has dropped the government’s policy to exclude people aged 18-21 from the ability to claim housing costs in Universal Credit.

The change, which was introduced in April 2017, effectively meant that most 18-21-year-olds became ineligible for housing benefit. It was a policy inherited from the previous government; one that we and other homelessness charities warned would have concerning consequences for … Read more

The minister doesn't know what's causing homelessness. We're happy to explain
The minister doesn't know what's causing homelessness. We're happy to explain

Homelessness Minister Heather Wheeler attracted attention over the weekend for saying she doesn’t know why rough sleeping is rising.

We have front-line homelessness services across the country and are happy to help the minister understand why.

From our point of view, homelessness isn’t that complicated. Time and again we see the same patterns and themes pushing people into homelessness and through the doors of our services.

First, the facts. Since 2010, all forms of homelessness have gone up in England. … Read more

Benefit cap challenge beaten in Court of Appeal
Benefit cap challenge beaten in Court of Appeal

Last week, the Court of Appeal handed down a disappointing decision on the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) benefit cap policy. It found in the government’s favour that the benefit cap is not unlawful, in so far as it applies to lone parents with children under the age of two.

The benefit cap restricts the amount of benefit payments a household can get to £23,000 in London and £20,000 everywhere else. While the cap is supposed to increase parity … Read more

On International Women’s Day, we mustn't ignore homeless women
On International Women’s Day, we mustn't ignore homeless women

International Women’s Day is a day to remember how badly women are being affected by our housing crisis.

While most people, when thinking about homelessness, might think of street homeless men, it’s important that we’re fully aware of the facts.

Women sleeping on the streets

It’s true that the majority of people captured by homeless street counts are men. Government data shows that only 14% of people sleeping on our streets on a given night are women.

But the women … Read more

Homelessness Reduction: time to get your Act together
Homelessness Reduction: time to get your Act together

Last week, new Homelessness Minister, Heather Wheeler, announced the publication of a new Homelessness Code of Guidance for local housing authorities following new regulations confirming that the Homelessness Reduction Act will come into force on 3 April 2018.

This means that local authorities, and those who advise homeless people, now have just over a month to familiarise themselves with the guidance and prepare for implementation.

The new legislation heralds a fundamental change to the rights of homeless people – and … Read more

‘Shelter has been such a great support’
‘Shelter has been such a great support’

Denise was heavily pregnant, going through a break up, and living in temporary accommodation when she first contacted Shelter. To make matters worse, she didn’t know where she’d be in a month’s time. The stress was unbearable.

‘The council said they’d only house me until I had the baby,’ Denise told us. ‘They said I’d made myself intentionally homeless because I’d moved out from where I’d been living with my husband. I was really worried, and didn’t know what to … Read more

‘I rang Shelter’s helpline at every stage’
‘I rang Shelter’s helpline at every stage’

Kimberley was 34 weeks pregnant when she found out her landlord was selling up. One minute, she and her husband Mark were preparing the home for their new arrival. The next, they were facing the prospect of being homeless.

‘I worried that we might end up with nowhere at all,’ Kimberley told us.

‘Mark broke down the first night we were there. We were in the room and he just said, “I can’t do this.” I had to say – … Read more