Council budgets stretched by temporary accommodation needs

There were headlines recently around the budgets of councils being stretched to fund temporary accommodation. Rising levels of homelessness and the increasing cost of using expensive bed and breakfast accommodation to place families have plunged more than two-thirds of all council homelessness services in England into the red, according to new analysis by the Local Government Association.

Figures compiled by the LGA show that nearly 7 in 10 council homelessness services are having to spend more than they planned to on homelessness support.

 

Council spending on homelessness (England)
Budgeted £000s Actual £000s Overspend £000s
2015/16 306,058 356,552 50,494 (16.5% over)
2016/17 342,410 410,271 67,861 (19.8% over)
2017/18 396,067 502,425 106,358 (26.9% over)
2018/19 502,732 642,357 139,625 (27.8% over)

You can read the full article on the LGA website, and see the report as well as a Guardian article about it.

The BBC’s Panorama also this week aired a programme about people living in temporary accommodation.

 

Bedroom Tax

In November 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that the Government’s application of the ‘bedroom tax’ breached the human rights of certain people who were affected by it. The case was brought by 155 partners of people with severe disabilities, who were affected by the reduction in housing benefit due to their home having more bedrooms than were ‘needed’ by the residents.

unanimous judgment delivered by the court’s president, Lady Hale, ruled that applying a 14% housing benefit reduction to a man, referred only as RR, was a breach of his right to home under the Human Rights Act.

RR’s partner is severely disabled so “it is accepted” that the couple need an extra bedroom for her medical equipment, Hale said.

The ruling will restore full housing benefit to RR, and at least 155 partners of disabled people who were also subjected to the bedroom tax before rules changed in 2017, and potentially others who have not taken their cases to tribunal.

In making the judgement, Justice Hale stated that the Human Rights Act carries more weight than other legislation, and if changes to welfare legislation (for example) could be shown to break it, then the Human Rights Act will take precedence over them.

See the Guardian article from November with more details.

 

Overhaul to tenancy agreements announced to make it easier for pet owners

The Housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, announced in January that an overhaul of model tenancy contracts is taking place, which will include provision for responsible pet owners to keep well behaved pets in their accommodation. At present, only 7% of landlords advertise homes as suitable for pets, which means that many people are unable to experience the benefits of pet ownership, or are forced to give up pets when they move to rented accommodation.

The Gov.uk website says:

The government will be bringing forward a bill to update the relationship between tenants and landlords as well as to introduce a Lifetime Deposit scheme, to make moving between properties easier and cheaper.

We will also establish First Home, a new programme for first time buyers, enabling them to purchase a new build property in their local area at a 30% discount.

The national model tenancy agreement is the government’s recommended contract for landlords to use when signing on new tenants for their properties in England. It sets out the minimum requirements and can be altered by landlords to cater for specific circumstances, tenants or properties.

A revised model tenancy agreement will be published by the government this year.

The full announcement can be read here on the Gov.uk website.