On 23 February, a parliamentary debate was tabled by the Labour Party on non-commissioned exempt accommodation. Labour chose this topic ahead of the Birmingham Erdington by-election on 3 March, an area where has where there has been a large increase in the quantity of supported exempt accommodation.
The NHF briefed MPs ahead of the debate, setting out members’ concerns about the provision of some exempt accommodation, including property standards, referral routes into schemes, levels of support, and whether some services provide value for money. These problems were highlighted throughout the debate and Khalid Mahood MP referenced the NHF’s concerns directly in his speech. We have called for changes to the oversight and regulatory system which focus on tackling the problematic providers and low-quality provision. These reforms should be enacted alongside a consideration of how to sustain and adequately fund quality services for people who do not have the means to pay for them.
The NHF have also signed a joint open letter coordinated by Commonweal Housing and the Local Government Association, urging the government to take further action on this issue. This letter has been sent to the Secretaries of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and for Work and Pensions. It has been signed by leaders at the five local authorities that have been part of the government’s exempt accommodation pilot scheme, as well as regional mayors, police commissioners and local councillors.