1. As we have been exploring in this series, it is imperative that new measures are brought into force to monitor the exempt accommodation system. The Government is now determined to root out rogue providers to safeguard the interests of the vulnerable adults who are at the mercy of their providers. On 12 November 2022, Michael Gove, the Secretary of State at DLUCH, said:

    We are stepping in to help councils crack down on this appalling activity and I will be working closely with Bob Blackman MP on his Private Members’ Bill to deliver tough new laws to end this practice once and for all.

  2. The Private Members’ Bill referred to is The Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Bill 2022-23 which had its second reading on 18 November 2022. The bill aims to stop rogue providers from operating in the exempt accommodation market and to ensure that action is taken against bad faith providers.

What the bill will do - the key changes

  1. Importantly, the bill will require the Secretary of State to establish a Supported Housing Advisory Panel whose role will be to provide information and advice about and in connection with supported exempt accommodation to the Secretary of State, local housing authorities and social services authorities.

  2. The bill would also place a duty on local housing authorities in England to review exempt provision in their areas and to publish a ‘supported housing strategy’ which would act as a future guide in carrying out their functions in the supported housing area.

  3. The Secretary of State would also be given power to develop and publish national standards which would apply in England and relate to any aspect of supported exempt accommodation.

  4. The bill will also include clauses giving the Secretary of State power to make licensing regulations to help to control and manage supported exempt accommodation. The bill will set out the scope of these licensing regulations which may include powers of enforcement, consequences for non-compliance, exemptions and fees. For non-compliant providers, they could face a limit on the amount of Housing Benefit payable to their residents or a limit on the level of rent they can charge. Local authorities will be required to have regard to any National Supported Housing Standards and any guidance issued by the Secretary of State in exercising their licensing functions to help to ensure uniformity across authorities.

  5. Of particular importance will be the new powers relating to homelessness. Section 191 of the Housing Act 1996 will be amended to provide that where someone leaves exempt supported accommodation due to the poor conditions of care and/or the inadequate standards of accommodation, they will not be deemed as having made themselves intentionally homeless. This is potentially significant as it will give residents confidence to not endure poor and inadequate supported housing simply because of the fear of the local authority concluding that they had made themselves intentionally homeless.

  6. The bill will extend to England and Wales and will come into force two months after receiving Royal Assent.

MR Associates - March 2023