Exempt accommodation is a form of supported housing where landlords that provide “more than minimal care, support or supervision” get significantly higher levels of rent covered by Housing Benefit than under the normal rules.
While many providers operate appropriate services and provide secure housing, unfortunately there are some organisations failing to deliver the necessary quality in provision or services to protect vulnerable people. These include: domestic abuse survivors, those recovering from alcohol and drug addiction, rough sleepers, care leavers, and asylum seekers and refugees.
Many of these people are living in cramped and often dangerous housing without the necessary support that should be expected, and which they were often promised. This is further marred by a lack of transparency and regulation which has enabled some exploitative providers to profiteer.
Calling for reform in exempt accommodation
Commonweal Housing and the Local Government Association (LGA) have penned a joint open letter urging the Government to tackle the cases of exploitation of the exempt system and work towards the provision of secure, appropriate, and good quality housing and support for vulnerable adults and young people.
The open letter has been sent to the Secretaries of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and for Work and Pensions, and has been signed by leading organisations and national membership bodies.
These include the National Housing Federation, the Chartered Institute for Housing, Crisis, St Mungo’s, Women’s Aid and Housing Justice. Leaders at the five local authorities that have been part of the Government’s exempt accommodation pilot scheme have also signed the letter, as well as regional Mayors, Police Commissioners and local councillors.
Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee inquiry
In December 2021 the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee launched an inquiry into exempt accommodation, asking for submissions to find out how exempt accommodation can be best provided and regulated. As well as preparing our own submission, we encouraged voices from across the sector to take part and shared our messaging and recommendations with them.
With over 150,000 individuals living in ‘exempt’ supported housing, a number that is rapidly rising, and at a public cost of an estimated £1 billion per annum, the sector is on the verge of crisis.
Exempt from Responsibility?
Our landmark 2019 report on exempt accommodation, produced with Spring Housing Association and the Housing and Communities Research Group revealed an ‘accountability deficit’ in non-commissioned exempt accommodation. The report's recommendations were adopted by Birmingham City Council as they seek to crack down on the sector and protect vulnerable people.
"This report is a call for better information, regulation and scrutiny to ensure that ‘exempt’ housing is a legitimate and safe option for everyone who needs it. National and local Government must heed its recommendations, and address the accountability deficit in this sector once and for all." - Ashley Horsey, CEO, Commonweal Housing
In this webinar series, we investigated the ongoing issues at hand, why saving the sector is so important, and how we can deliver collective reform that ends the exploitation of people and profit. We heard from some of the industry’s most influential experts, housing providers, those with lived experience, and leading policy-makers including from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.