These briefings establish our policy lines on key issues and provide overviews of current government policy that affects homeless people and our members. We continue to discuss these issues with our members and provide information on a range of relevant subjects to help them influence decision making in their local areas.

Please see our How To Influence Locally page for more information,  guidance and resources on local influencing.

CURRENT BRIEFINGS

Universal Credit Regulations
Second Reading Briefing

Welfare Uprating Joint Briefing
Responding to Allocations Consultations
Police and Crime Commissioners
Laying the Foundations: A Housing Strategy for England (November 2011)
Housing Benefit Reform - Supported Housing (Exempt Accommodation)
Briefing: 'Vision to End Rough Sleeping' - first report from the Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness Health Service Reform
Changes to the Social Fund
Update on Safeguarding
Welfare Reform Bill
Localism Bill
Breaking the Cycle: effective punishment, rehabilitation and sentencing of offenders
Shared Accommodation Rate
Universal Credit

 

Universal Credit Regulations
Universal Credit commences later in 2013 and is the Government’s “flagship” benefit policy. In merging a number of means-tested benefits, it represents a revolutionary attempt to simplify the benefits system alongside an attempt to remove the financial disincentives that many claimants experience. Homeless Link has written a briefing that covers not just the Main Regulations, but also the Decisions and Appeals regulations and the Claims and Payment Regulations.

Download a copy of the briefing

Second Reading Briefing
The Welfare Up-rating Bill breaks the historic link between annual increases in working-age benefits and inflation rates. It proposes that most benefits rise by only 1% for the next 3 years, a reduction in real terms. The Government’s own impact assessment on the Bill found that the people who would lose the largest percentage of their income under this proposal were the poorest in society.

Homeless Link prepared a briefing for MPs at Second Reading stage covering the general unfairness of the bill. 

Welfare Uprating Joint Briefing and Amendment
The Government has also proposed that Local Housing Allowance rates rise by CPI in 2013-14 and 1% for the following two years. This change will potentially have catastrophic impacts on benefit claimants in the private sector.
We agreed a Committee Stage briefing and amendment with Crisis, Shelter and St Mungo’s which attempted to ensure housing related benefits were uprated in line with increases in rental rates and not by arbitrary amounts as the Government proposed.

Responding to Allocations Consultations
Following the publication of 'Allocation of accommodation: guidance for local housing authorities' in June 2012, most local authorities are issuing local consultations in preparation for making adjustments to their policies.  Read this guidance on what might be raised and how you can respond.

Police and Crime Commissioners
In November 2012 the public in England and Wales will elect Police and Crime Commissioners for each police force area.  They will replace current structures, put together a plan for the area and control funding.  In this briefing we address this impact this will have on the homeless population and the sector that serves them, as well as suggesting ways to respond to these changes to ensure the voices of homeless and vulnerable people are heard.

Download our briefing on Police and Crime Commissioners

Laying the Foundations: A Housing Strategy for England (November 2011)
The Government launched its Housing Strategy on 21 November 2011. The strategy comes against a backdrop where house building has slowed over recent decades and there is a shortage of homes, particularly affordable housing. In its introduction, the Government states two broad aims: to ‘unblock the market’; and ‘spread opportunity in our society’.

Download our summary of the strategy

Housing Benefit Reform - Supported Housing (Exempt Accommodation)
In July 2011 the Government launched a public consultation on Supported Housing as a part of Housing Benefit Reform (i.e. a review of ‘Exempt Accommodation’).  The key aim of the consultation is to simplify the model currently in place so that it is compatible with Universal Credit, potentially by linking into the Local Housing Allowance model with an additional payment for extra costs.

The consultation document does not set out concrete proposals for what a reformed model will be, but rather a range of areas they want to look at and what the approximate end goal needs to be. In principle the consultation supports the idea that help with the higher costs of providing supported housing should remain within HB.

Visit our regularly updated Welfare Reform page for any developments on the Exempt Accommodation review or Download our consultation response

BRIEFING: ‘VISION TO END ROUGH SLEEPING’ - FIRST REPORT FROM THE MINISTERIAL WORKING GROUP ON HOMELESSNESS
On 6 July Grant Shapps MP, Minister for Housing and Local Government in the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) launched the first report of the Ministerial Working Group on Preventing and Tackling Homelessness.

The Ministerial Working Group brings together eight government departments with the shared aim of preventing and reducing homelessness, and improving the lives of those people who do become homeless. The Working Group acknowledges that homelessness is about more than housing, and therefore addressing homelessness requires cross-Government commitment. Download our briefing on the report.

WELFARE RFORM BILL
On 16 February 2011 the Welfare Reform Bill was introduced to Parliament. Whilst the proposed 10% cut in housing benefit for claimants on job seekers allowance for 12 months has been dropped, the Bill still legislates for the biggest change to the welfare system for over 60 years. A number of these changes will directly impact on people who are homeless and the services which support them. We have created a Welfare Reform Bill briefing document which is an overview of the key changes and some commentary about their wider implications. For a copy of all the Bill documents, please visit Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) website. We have also jointly produced a briefing for this Bill's second reading in the House of Lords: Joint briefing for 2nd Reading of the Welfare Reform Bill

LOCALISM BILL
The Decentralisation and Localism Bill constitutes by far the most comprehensive and extensive changes to local government in recent memory. The Bill has a wide scope. However it is housing that will undergo the most fundamental reforms and is consequently the area of most importance for Homeless Link and its members. The Localism Bill received a second reading in the House of Commons on the 17th January 2011. Homeless Link has published a summary of this Bill.

BREAKING THE CYCLE: EFFECTIVE PUNISHMENT, REHABILITATION AND SENTENCING OF OFFENDERS
The Ministry of Justice has launched a Green Paper and consultation following their announcement of a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ for criminal justice earlier in 2010. Homeless Link has published a summary of the paper and consultation .

SHARED ACCOMMODATION RATE/SHARED ROOM RATE
The Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR, previously the Shared Room Rate (SRR)) restricts the maximum Housing Benefit claimants in the private rented sector can receive to the rate for a single room in a shared house, rather than a self-contained studio flat or one-bedroom property. As of April 2012, SAR that previously only applied to people aged 25 and under will be applied to people aged 35 and under. Download our briefing on the Shared Room Rate for more information.

There are two exemptions to the age extension, one for those who have lived in hostels supporting recovery from homelessness for 3 months or more, and one for ex-offenders subject to higher level Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) see our SAR Q&A for more details..

The DWP published an Equality Impact Assessment of the Shared Accommodation Rate in May 2011. Download our  summary of the EIA.

UNIVERSAL CREDIT
The White Paper on Welfare Reform ‘Universal Credit: welfare that works’ was published in November 2010,

The Government plans to bring Universal Credit into effect from 2013. In simplest terms, Universal Credit will mean that welfare benefits will be paid:

  • monthly
  • directly to the claimant (including the housing cost element)
  • as a single household payment

There will be some people or groups who will recieve extra support to transition to Universal Credit, and some who will be exempted (eg may receive payments more frequently than monthly, and/or have their housing cost element paid directly to their landlord). The DWP is developing plans for how to identify and work with those in need of support or exemptions.

Please see our briefing on the White Paper for more information.

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 ARCHIVE Policy Briefings

These briefings were developed in 2009 and following the change in government we are reviewing the content to reflect the current policy context. Each will be updated as new government policy comes into effect.

Each policy briefing has 4 sections. These provide information on

  • background, facts and figures
  • an overview of responsible bodies
  • latest government policy developments
  • a selection of key issues and policy lines.

We look forward to any feedback on these documents so that we can continue to develop our evidence base and policy lines in consultation with member organisations.