Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Bill

Exempt accommodation refers to supported housing that is not subject to specific provisions of Housing Benefit. Its purpose is to offer housing and support to the most vulnerable individuals in society, helping them to regain stability in their lives. This category includes individuals such as prison leavers, care leavers, those escaping domestic violence, and homeless individuals. According to Crisis, a national charity addressing homelessness, as of May 2021, a total of 153,701 households in Great Britain were residing in exempt accommodation, marking a significant 62% rise since 2016.

At present, there is no unified regulatory body overseeing supported housing, which has resulted in increased scrutiny and criticism. While most supported housing providers consider their accommodation to be satisfactory or of good quality and are recognised for their valuable contribution to the community, the lack of stringent regulation has allowed certain troubling issues to emerge. Regrettably, a few unscrupulous landlords have exploited the system, offering substandard accommodation and minimal or no support to society’s most vulnerable individuals.

Supported accommodation main aim is to provide crucial support to society’s most vulnerable, enabling them to rebuild their lives and eventually transition to independent living. Rogue landlords have arguably undermined this objective.

Bob Blackman MP introduced the Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Bill primarily to address the issue of rogue landlords exploiting the supported housing system. Additionally, the Bill is expected to assist housing providers in assessing their compliance with the mandated standards and making any needed improvements. Overall, the Bill aims to draw attention to and address fundamental issues within the sector.

The Bill makes provisions to regulate, provide oversight, and give enforcement powers to supported exempt accommodation through two main processes: introduction of national supported housing standards and local authority delivered licensing regulations.

Some of the key sections of the Bill include:

  1. Powers for Local Authorities to introduce supporting housing licensing schemes in their area. This would mean that all supported housing providers must hold a license and landlords will be judged as to whether they are a ‘fit and proper’ person to hold a license.
  2. The Secretary of State to consult before exercising licensing powers and ensure supporting housing providers and residents have their voices heard through consultation process.
  3. The creation of a new supported housing advisory panel to advise the Secretary of State on matters relating to social housing.
  4. Local Authorities to conduct supported housing reviews and produce a strategy on matters presented in guidance by the Secretary of State.
  5. The Secretary of State to have the power to publish new National Supported Housing Standards.

The crucial aspect of the Bill is to grant Local Authorities the authority to regulate the establishment of supported housing within their respective areas. This ensures that the number of providers in a particular location will be limited to the necessary amount. Moreover, collaboration between different Local Authorities will be necessary to establish a set of minimum standards that apply across multiple areas of Local Authority jurisdiction.

As the Bill moves through Parliament, there remain several unanswered questions that need to be addressed. These include matters related to funding and the specific challenges faced by smaller providers. It is anticipated that a consultation will take place in the coming months, followed by the implementation of licensing regulations within 18 months thereafter. The phased introduction of the Bill to existing providers is projected to commence by the beginning of 2025.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Social Housing Team at MSB Solicitors.

Law is correct as of 5th May 2023

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure that the law in this article is correct, it is intended to provide a general overview of the law for educational purposes. You are respectfully reminded that it is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No liability is accepted for any error or omission contained herein.

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