Thank you for writing to me about exempt accommodation.
Exempt accommodation provides a vital service to some of the most vulnerable people in our society. The care, support and supervision they are provided helps them to live as independently as possible in their communities.
Like you, I was deeply concerned to read reports of disturbing treatment and abuse in the exempt accommodation sector detailed in the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee report.
Ministers are aware of a minority of supported housing landlords providing poor quality accommodation and insufficient support for residents. It is completely unacceptable for anyone to abuse the exempt accommodation system and issues must be addressed to ensure vulnerable people can access the accommodation and support they deserve.
The Government is supporting the Member for Harrow East, Bob Blackman's, Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Private Member's Bill. The legislation, which is currently making its way through Parliament, will create powers for the Secretary of State to introduce national standards for supported accommodation and require local authorities to create supported housing strategies. A Supported Housing Advisory Panel will be created, which will bring together representatives from the sector to advise central and local government. The Bill will also give the Secretary of State powers to introduce licensing for the exempt accommodation sector.
In March 2022, the Government committed to amend the Housing Benefit system to define "care", "support" and "supervision" and improve quality and value for money. The Department for Work and Pensions has published Housing Benefit guidance for supported housing claims to assist local authorities in this area.
A National Statement of Expectations for supported housing was published in 2020, setting out good practice in planning, commissioning and delivery of supported housing. The Government subsequently funded five pilots to test innovative approaches to provision and drive-up standards. An independent evaluation confirmed that pilot authorities were able to drive improvements in quality of accommodation and support for residents. These lessons will be at the heart of a new £20 million Supported Housing Improvement Programme which will improve standards in some of the worst affected areas.
Just one situation in which a vulnerable person is placed in inadequate exempt accommodation without the support they require is one too many. I am confident that the Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Bill sends a strong message that time is up for rogue providers. I would like to assure you that the Government will continue to work with councils, housing providers and other bodies to improve living standards for the most vulnerable.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking