Homelessness/Renting/Affordable Homes - November 2021

Dear Constituent,

Thank you for contacting me about the Shelter campaign on levelling up housing.    

I completely agree that providing high-quality, affordable homes should be central to the levelling up agenda, and I am glad that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is working to invest in local areas and deliver the homes our country needs.   

The Government is dedicated to reforming the rental sector for tenants and landlords alike. A package of reforms is set to be outlined in an upcoming White Paper, which I understand will include measures to hold rogue landlords to account for delivering safe and decent housing without penalising good landlords. As part of this, the Government will explore the merits of a landlord register. Measures will also enhance renters’ security and improve protections for short-term tenants by abolishing ‘no-fault’ evictions.   

The Government has committed to ending rough sleeping this Parliament and I am glad that encouraging progress continues to be made, with rough sleeping falling by 37 per cent in the last year alone. I recognise that people may have concerns about the upcoming winter months, which is why I welcome the allocation of an additional £203 million  to tackle rough sleeping and provide support for people living on the streets.

The Government announced a total of £203 million of funding through the Rough Sleeping Initiative 2021/22. This is an 81% increase from the £112 million provided last year.  The Rough Sleeping Initiative, initially launched in March 2018, seeks to reduce the levels of rough sleeping by working with local authorities to provide specialist services, tailored to local circumstances, to help vulnerable people off the streets. To date the programme has been a success with a 2018 impact evaluation finding that there was a 32% reduction in rough sleeping in areas which received the Rough Sleeping Initiative funding in 2018/19, compared to the number it would have been had the Rough Sleeping Initiative not been in place.

The Rough Sleeping Initiative 2021/22 will build on past successes, providing ongoing support to those who need it, and a route into settled accommodation. This year, it will also provide additional resource to continue supporting work to protect people sleeping rough from the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am pleased that this includes an allocation of funding to the two local authorities in my constituency including a total of £1,646,310 in Bedford Borough and £512,801 in Central Bedfordshire.

There is also a range of support for vulnerable renters. A one-off £65 million grant is being made available to local authorities in 2021-22 to support vulnerable households who have accumulated rent arrears as a result of the pandemic. This builds on wider support for renters, such as the £140 million in funding that is available through Discretionary Housing Payments and £670 million for those struggling to pay council tax this year. Local councils will also be distributing their share of the new £500 million Household Support Fund to help vulnerable households and individuals in their local community this winter.      

There needs to be a long-term solution to help those that have been brought in from homelessness, which is why the Government is making over £750 million in funding available for 2021-22. As part of this, the largest ever investment in move-on accommodation is being made through the accelerated delivery of the £433 million Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme.    

I absolutely agree that we need to increase the availability of affordable homes across the country, and it is encouraging that over 542,400 affordable homes have been delivered in the past decade. Progress continues, for example through the new £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme (2021-26) which will leverage up to £38 billion of private finance and provide up to 180,000 new homes across the country, should economic conditions allow. £8.6 billion of this funding has already been allocated to councils, housing associations and private providers. This will deliver around 57,000 homes for affordable homeownership, 29,600 for social rent and 6,250 affordable rural homes.   

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.    

Sincerely,

Richard Fuller