If it is broke, it needs fixing
If it is broke, it needs fixing

Today sees the publication of the Children’s Commissioners’ report, Bleak House. It’s an upsetting exploration of the awful conditions that homeless families are having to endure, and highlights how broken our housing system truly is.

The report shows that temporary accommodation (TA) is rarely that at all; 40% of families stay in TA for over 6 months and 5% – that’s one in 20 families – end up in temporary accommodation continuously for a year or more. These are … Read more

Welfare safety net is broken, MPs find
Welfare safety net is broken, MPs find

‘As a nation, I believe we all want a decent safety net: if you’re facing a difficult moment in life, the state should be there to help you.’ – Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, 11 January 2019.

The government says it supports the welfare safety net – but is it still working? Back in December 2018, we submitted evidence to the parliamentary work and pensions committee’s inquiry into the welfare safety net. The … Read more

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

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

Rosie shows why every homeless family is a tragedy
Rosie shows why every homeless family is a tragedy

Homelessness is all around us. But while we can see people sleeping in shop doorways or under awnings, that’s just the tip of a much larger iceberg.

There are currently 61,480 homeless families in England who are not on the streets but are instead living in temporary accommodation, without the safety and stability of a home.

This kind of homelessness often feels like an abstract concept. We know these people exist from the official figures, but their lives are hard … 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

‘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

After they escaped domestic abuse, they needed a safe home
After they escaped domestic abuse, they needed a safe home

Mel and her three daughters had nowhere else to go, but the moment her husband threatened to kill four-year-old Olivia, Mel knew she had no choice but to leave their home.

They desperately needed somewhere safe and secure to stay, but instead they were given a freezing room in an outbuilding far away from the main property. They were so isolated that no one would hear them if they shouted for help. There was only one way in and out, … Read 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

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

The benefit cap is harming struggling families
The benefit cap is harming struggling families

At Shelter, our solicitors and many other legal aid housing lawyers frequently represent families who are struggling in unimaginable ways under the household benefit cap. This policy, introduced in 2013 and revised in 2016, caps the amount in state benefits that an individual household can claim per year. Many families affected by the cap are now at breaking point.

A grandmother who gave up work to care for her five grandchildren, only for her benefits to be capped because … Read more

Shelter services - our view on benefit discrimination
Shelter services - our view on benefit discrimination

At Shelter, we know how hard it can be for people to find somewhere safe and suitable to live. For many, the security and affordability of social housing is an impossible dream, never mind the fantasy of owning their own home.

While families sit on waiting lists up and down the country, they, and millions of others, face the harsh reality of private renting. The eye-watering cost is not even the first hurdle. The majority of low-income renters will have … Read more