There were 1,550 people living in Sheffield in such accommodation in 2018, with numbers rising dramatically, and Councilor Terry Fox, Leader of Sheffield City Council, has put his name to the call for urgent reform.
Social justice charity Commonweal Housing and the Local Government Association (LGA) have written a joint open letter urging the government to tackle cases of abuse of the exemption system and work towards the provision of safe housing, appropriate and of good quality and support for vulnerable people. adults and young people.
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Exempt housing is a type of supported housing where landlords who provide “more than minimal care, support or supervision” get significantly higher levels of rent covered by Housing Benefit than under the normal rules.
Ashley Horsey, chief executive of Commonweal Housing, said: ‘For too long exempt housing has operated under the government’s radar, slowly creating a silent crisis. Insufficient regulation allowed some landlords to financially game the system, often to the detriment of the vulnerable people it was meant to support.
“Exempt housing needs a top-down review and the government must enact comprehensive reforms to ensure a secure and sustainable future for the sector.”
A recent report from now-closed exempt housing provider Prospect Housing showed almost £1billion of public funding was spent on exempt housing.
The exempt housing sector provides housing for hundreds of thousands of people in need, including survivors of domestic violence, people recovering from alcohol and drug addiction, veterans rough sleepers, people leaving care, asylum seekers and refugees. Individuals in these groups are often inappropriately housed together, further compromising their recovery.
The letter calls on the government to put in place measures to ensure that care, support and supervision meet the necessary and expected quality, and that the government provides local authorities with sustainable funding to support services that meet local needs. .
Moreover, it calls for the closure of loopholes that allow exploitation.