Local councils in England can now apply for a share of a £20 million pot that’s been made available to drive up standards in the supported housing sector.

The government wants to hear from authorities dealing with poor quality provision or unscrupulous landlords exploiting vulnerable residents by charging high rents for poor-quality accommodation while offering almost no help.

It cites landlords providing as little support as dropping off a box of cereal but claiming £250 per week in an area where the average rent is £80.

Supported – or exempt – accommodation is non-commissioned and unregulated supported housing where tenants include ex-prisoners, addicts, rough sleepers and fleeing survivors of domestic abuse.

Landlords can apply for provider status, exempting them from local licensing regulations and housing benefit caps, meaning that councils have few powers to act over the quality and safety of homes or how tenants are treated.

Clamp down

To clamp down on the sector, the new funding programme will give councils resources to carry out inspections and enforcement activity. Alongside this, the government has introduced new minimum standards to prevent landlords from exploiting some of the most vulnerable tenants.

Local authorities will get new powers to better manage supported housing so rogue landlords can’t exploit the system, while there will be changes to Housing Benefit regulations to define care, support and supervision.

Minister for Welfare Delivery, David Rutley MP (main picture), says: “Having a settled home gives people the security to improve their lives by getting on the employment ladder or taking other steps towards financial independence.

“This, supported by changes we recently announced which will give people on benefits the choice of putting money towards a deposit, provides the chance to make progress on the pathway to home ownership.”

This programme builds on the success of £5.4 million year-long supported housing pilots in Birmingham, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Hull and Bristol.

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