1. The Bill aims to establish minimum standards for the support and accommodation provided in supported exempt accommodation in England.
2. This overview is based on the sources identified in the table below.
Government support for the Bill
3. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has stated its support for the Bill, saying that they are collaborating with Bob Blackman MP on his Private Members’ Bill to create “tough new laws”.
Provisions – Overview
4. The Bill provides for local housing authority oversight of the provision of supported exempt accommodation. And contains enforcement powers to ensure compliance. The main provisions of the Bill are set out below.
Local supported housing strategies – clause 2
5. The Bill requires local housing authorities to:
- regularly review supported exempt accommodation in their area; and
- publish a “supported housing strategy” on a five-year cycle.
6. The social services authority must provide assistance to the local housing authority (where it is a different authority) if reasonably required to do so.
7. The Secretary of State has the power to set a deadline in regulations for local housing authorities to comply with this requirement.
8. The “supported housing strategy” must include the local housing authority’s assessment of:
- the level of provision of supported exempt accommodation in its area;
- the projected need for it in the next five years – beginning with the date on which the strategy is published.
9. The Secretary of State also has the power to require additional information to be included in the strategy.
10. Both the local housing authority and the social services authority must have regard to the supported housing strategy in the carrying out of their functions.
11. The Secretary of State may provide guidance to local housing authorities and social services authorities regarding the formation of these strategies.
National Supported Housing Standards – clause 3
12. The Secretary of State may prepare and publish national standards for supported exempt accommodation in England, known as National Supported Housing Standards. These standards can cover any aspect of the provision of supported exempt accommodation.
13. National Supported Housing Standards may set minimum standards for:
- the type or condition of premises used for the provision of supported exempt accommodation; or
- the care, support or supervision provided at such accommodation.
14. The Secretary of State is responsible for regularly reviewing and updating these standards as necessary.
15. The proposed licensing regulations will be used to enforce the National Supported Housing Standards. The licensing regulations must be made to ensure that the National Supported Housing Standards are met.
Licensing regulations – clause 4
16. In summary, the Secretary of State is given the power to create “licensing regulations” for supported exempt accommodation, with the aim of ensuring that National Supported Housing Standards are met. The local housing authority (“the licensing authority”) is responsible for granting licenses in a designated district, and the Secretary of State has the power to designate every local housing authority district in England.
17. The Secretary of State may create regulations requiring a person controlling or managing supported exempt accommodation, located in a designated district, to obtain and comply with a license granted by the local housing authority (subsection 1 & 3)).
18. If the power has not been exercised within one year from the day the Act is passed, the Secretary of State must publish a report outlining the progress made towards doing so (subsection 2).
19. The licensing regulations:
- must allow local housing authorities to designate their districts for the purpose of the regulations; and
- may include provisions requiring a local authority to designate its district if specified conditions are met.
20. Additionally, the Secretary of State can designate or revoke the designation of a local housing authority’s district for the purposes of the regulations (subsection 4)
21. The Secretary of State may designate every local housing authority district in England (subsection 5).
22. The licensing regulations must be created to ensure that National Supported Housing Standards, if any, are met (subsection 6).
23. A statutory instrument containing regulations under this section cannot be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by both Houses of Parliament (subsection 7)
Further provision about licensing regulations – clause 5
24. Licensing regulations may include:
- how an application for a licence is to be made, and the circumstances in which a licence may be granted, varied or revoked; this includes:
- provision for refusal unless the licensing authority is satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person and provision for a licence to be revoked if the authority is no longer satisfied
- the conditions that may be attached to a licence including:
- conditions relating to the standard of accommodation,
- conditions relating to the use of accommodation,
- conditions requiring the carrying out of assessments of the needs of residents (or potential residents) and relating to the conduct of such assessments,
- conditions relating to the provision of care, support or supervision,
- conditions requiring compliance with National Supported Housing Standards,
- provision about the enforcement of the regulations and of the conditions attached to licences, including provisions creating criminal offences punishable with a fine; banning orders, an entry on the database of rogue landlords and rent repayment orders;
- provision about other consequences of compliance or non-compliance with the regulations or with conditions attached to licences; including removing or restricting entitlement to housing benefit and limiting the rent that may be determined (section 14 of the Housing Act 1988 (determination of rent by tribunal);
- provision requiring or permitting the licensing authority to charge fees sufficient to meet the costs of performing any of the authority’s regulatory functions;
- provision about appeals against licensing decisions;
- other provisions like those relating to the licensing of houses in multiple occupation) (Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004) or the licensing of other residential accommodation (Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004).
Consultation on licensing regulations – clause 6
25. Before making licensing regulations the Secretary of State must consult:
- each local housing authority in England,
- each social services authority in England,
- the National Housing Federation, and
- the Regulator for Social Housing.
Local housing authority functions – clause 7
26. In exercising its licensing functions the local housing authority must have regard to:
- the National Supported Housing Standards; and
- any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.
Planning – should exempt accommodation be a use class – clause 8
27. Clause 8 of the Bill addresses the question of whether supported exempt accommodation should be considered a use class for planning purposes.
28. The Secretary of State is required to conduct an evaluation, after a specified period of time, of the impact of the initial licensing regulations on the type and condition of the premises used and the care, support, and supervision provided at supported exempt accommodation.
29. Based on this review, the Secretary of State must consider whether to classify supported exempt accommodation as a use class (s. 55(2)(f) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990).
Not intentionally homeless – if leaving poor supported exempt accommodation – clause 9
30. Clause 9 of the Bill aims to prevent individuals from being classified as intentionally homeless(for the purposes of s. 191 of the Housing Act 1996) when they leave supported exempt accommodation due to:
- poor living conditions, or
- inadequate care, support, or supervision.
31. This applies specifically when the accommodation or provided care, support, or supervision does not meet the National Supported Housing Standards established by the Secretary of State.
Sharing and use of information relating to supported exempt accommodation – clause 10
32. The Bill provides for the sharing of information relating to supported exempt accommodation between:
- a local housing authority in England;
- a registered provider of social housing in England;
- the Regulator of Social Housing; and
- the Secretary of State.
33. The Bill also provides for the use of this information by the local housing authority for:
- any purpose connected with the exercise of any of the authority’s
functions relating to supported exempt accommodation; or
- to investigate whether any offence has been committed under the Act.
Supported Housing Advisory Panel – clause 1
34. The Bill requires the Secretary of State to establish a Supported Housing Advisory Panel within one year of the Act being passed. This panel will provide guidance and recommendations regarding supported exempt accommodation.
Meaning of “supported exempt accommodation” – clause 12
35. The target of the bill is: “supported exempt accommodation” (cl. 12(1)). This is:
- accommodation within cl 12(2),
- managed properties in England,
- refuges in England, or
- local authority hostels in England
36. Essentially this is what would be classed for housing benefit purposes as:
- exempt accommodation (in England) (cl. 12(2); and
- other specified accommodation (in England) (cl 12(3)-(5) – but for these purposes regardless of the age of any resident.
37. Cl. 12(2) refers to: accommodation in England which is:
- a resettlement place provided by persons to whom the Secretary of State has given assistance by way of grant pursuant to s 30 of the Jobseekers Act 1995 (grants for resettlement places); or
- provided by:
- a non-metropolitan county council in England,
- a housing association,
- a registered charity, or
- a voluntary organisation,
where that body, or a person acting on its behalf, also provides a person resident in the accommodation with care, support or supervision.
38. A “managed property” is accommodation-
- provided by:
- a council for a county in England for each part of whose area there is a district council,
- a housing association,
- a registered charity, or
- a voluntary organisation;
- into which a person has been admitted in order to meet a need for care, support or supervision, and
- where that person receives care, support or supervision.
39. A “refuge” is accommodation which –
- is provided by one of the above providers or an authority administering HB to someone because they have left their home as a result of domestic violence, and
- consists of a building, or part of a building, which is used wholly or mainly for the non-permanent accommodation of persons who have left their homes as a result of domestic violence.
40. A “local authority hostel” is accommodation—
- which would be a hostel for UC purposes (29(10) of sch 4 to the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 No 376) but for it being owned or managed by an authority administering HB, and
- where a person resident in the accommodation receives care, support
Passage through Parliament
Martin Ward: 4 April 2023