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Harry Williams

Harry is the Policy and Communications Manager at Commonweal Housing

Commonweal reacts to LUHC Committee report into exempt accommodation

Today, the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee has published it’s report on the inquiry into exempt accommodation.

The report echoes many of the concerns that Commonweal has raised over the past few years and has adopted the majority of recommendations that Commonweal proposed across written and oral evidence sessions.

The current system of exempt accommodation is a ‘complete mess’ that is failing too many residents and local communities at the expense of the taxpayer, says the cross-party LUHC Committee.

The Committee’s report calls on the Government to bring forward a series of urgent reforms for the sector, including the introduction of enforceable national standards and compulsory registration, to help boost the quality of exempt accommodation and support services.

The report also calls for action to close the loopholes in the current system which “offers a licence to print money to those who wish to exploit it”.

The Committee’s report recommends that the Government:

  • Introduce compulsory national minimum standards for exempt accommodation, including on referrals, care & support, and quality of housing
  • Give local councils the powers and resources to enforce these standards
  • Require all exempt accommodation providers to be registered
  • Create a National Oversight Committee to join-up existing regulators and mend the current ‘patchwork regulation’ which has too many holes
  • Ensure the providers of exempt accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse have recognised expertise to provide specialist support and a safe environment
  • Review the system of exempt housing benefit claims and clamp down on the exploitation of the lease-based exempt accommodation model for profit

Ashley Horsey, Chief Executive at Commonweal Housing who gave oral evidence to the LUHC Committee, said: “This report has got to the heart of the myriad of issues surrounding exempt accommodation, and we are very pleased that the Committee has adopted the bulk of Commonweal’s ongoing recommendations for reform. Crucially however, the report has sidestepped one of the key points made in our evidence: that there must be a clear definition between the more problematic transitional housing end of the spectrum and the much-needed lifetime provision of supported housing, which caters for those with ongoing support needs such as the elderly or disabled.

“We are concerned that without this distinction in policy, we run the risk of providers of lifetime homes that employ the exempt accommodation rules will get caught up in any proposed new regulations, resulting in potential pushback that could have ramifications to the changes at the transitional end being diverted, delayed or ditched. Nevertheless, the building blocks for a radical rehaul of the system are in place, and this report makes huge leaps forward in the sector’s efforts to not only clean up the worst instances of the provision of exempt accommodation, but adequately put in place the measures that will deliver a fair and sustainable system for providers and people. The Government must take note.”

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