Minutes of meeting: Tuesday 23rd April 2024

AGM of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Households in Temporary Accommodation.

Date: 23/4/24
Time: 14.00-14.30
Location: Room W2, Westminster House

Co-Secretariats: Shared Health Foundation (SHF) and Justlife Foundation (JL)

Attendees in Person:

Sam Pratt (SHF), Grace Bute (SHF), Morgan Tebbs (Justlife) Siobhain McDonagh MP (Labour, Chair), Rebecca Long-Bailey MP (Labour) Bob Blackman MP (Conservative), Karen Buck MP (Labour), Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Labour), Lord Richard Best (Crossbench), Andrew Western MP (Labour), Eddie Hughes MP (Conservative), Natalie Elphicke MP (Conservative), Paula Barker MP (Labour), The Lord Bishop of Manchester (Bishops)

Independent Chair: 

Hannah Bardell MP (SNP)

Agenda: 

To vote on re-electing existing officers to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Households in Temporary Accommodation. 

Meeting: 

Independent Chair Hannah Bardell led the meeting with the following: 

  • Highlighting the agenda for the meeting
  • Provided vote for Siobhain McDonagh to continue as Registered Chair of the APPG
  • Provided vote for Rebecca Long-Bailey, Karen Buck and Bob Blackman for their roles as Officers of the APPG
  • Provided vote for Shared Health Foundation and Justlife Foundation to continue role as co-secretariats of the APPG
  • Annual reports approved
  • Due Diligence statement approved  

Participants of the meeting voted in agreement on the above votes.

The meeting was concluded at 14:10

Households in Temporary Accommodation All Party Parliamentary Group Annual Report 2023

APPG Temporary Accommodation – Due Diligence – 2024

APPG Temporary Accommodation – Income and Expenditure – 2024

Minutes of meeting: Wednesday 22nd November 2023

6th All-Party Parliamentary Group for Households in Temporary Accommodation.

Date: 22/11/2023
Time: 16.00-17.00
Location: Room M, Portcullis House

Joint Secretariats: Shared Health Foundation (SHF) and Justlife (JL)

Attendees:
Rebecca Long-Bailey MP (Salford & Eccles, Labour), Sam Pratt (SHF), Laura Edwards and Chris Dabbs (Unlimited Potential), Debbie Blackburn (Salford City Council), Martyn Hague (ForHousing), and Members of the Salford Co-production Project (Unlimited Potential).

Number of attendees online: 45

Purpose:

To introduce the Salford Co-production group and their Good Homes presentation. Funded by Public Health on behalf of the Salford’s Health & Wellbeing Board, the Co-production group brings together the local people of Salford and senior professionals to work collaboratively to improve the lives of their communities. The Good Homes project is delivered by Unlimited Potential and aims to provide useful information for young people and families navigating the homeless journey.

Meeting

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP (Vice Chair) opened the meeting at 4pm.

Laura Edwards

Project Co-ordinator for Unlimited Potential:

  • The Salford co-production project is funded by health and wellbeing board at Public Health Salford City Council because it was deemed necessary to reduce health inequalities that were greatest in Salford.
  • Previous attempts to solve the issue did not work.
  • Co-production is a helpful tool that can bring:
  • 1. Depth of understanding into an issue that only comes with lived experience.
  • 2. Knowledge as well as the ability to make the change that only senior professionals can make.
    3. Passion and commitment to make a difference.
  • Co-production is about sharing power. Bringing local people and local decision makers together in the same room as equals.
  • As it is a different way of working, the solutions are often innovative, such as this magazine on Good Homes.

Salford Co-production group

15 members of the group presented the Good Homes magazine, with some sharing their lived experience of navigating homelessness from a young age.

Shaquille:

  • Process of being involved has been very exciting and a real opportunity to make the places we live in better.
  • Me and Laura met at a community centre where it was explained what the co-production was about.
  • Laura also met members of the group, in young carers, young parents and coffee shops.

Debbie Blackburn from Salford City Council:

  • Co-production has changed the way we work with our residents, changing policies that are in line with the needs of our population.
  • This has given us the perspective on how we look at the wider determinants of health.
  • Work and good homes are our hierarchy of need. We need to co-produce these needs with our residents to get the basic principles right and reduce the health inequalities in our city.

Jordan:

  • A good homes approach would reduce pressure on Temporary Accommodation by helping families early on.
  • Most of us have lived in TA during a difficult time with our families. If the right help was provided to our families, it would have likely prevented us from further homelessness, giving us a good home.
  • As young people thinking about our own lives, we felt a priority had to be about homes. Most of us have been homeless and living in TA and we don’t want others to go through what we have. Homes are about stability and security.
  • This is why we want a good homes strategy, not housing.
  • We worked with a service designer to create a model of what a good home means.

(Copies of model shared amongst members of the meeting).

Chris Dabbs from Unlimited Potential:

  • The magazine produced is a short-term solution, and the model that has just been shared is the basis of a long-term strategy on how we plan to address this issue.
  • This isn’t just about housing, bricks, and mortar. This is about how we can support people to create a home.
  • Children most importantly, need stability and security in where they live.
  • If we can create homes and support people to have homes, with the implication of agencies such as children’s services, social services, and housing services together, then we can prevent health inequalities.
  • This is why we want to put the emphasis on homes, not housing.

Olivia:

  • We initially grouped together because there wasn’t many resources or information about how to run a home, so we co-designed the Good Homes magazine and made it accessible to all.
  • As most of us have come from TA or the care system, we all struggled when moving into to our new homes. For example, when I moved into my own house, I found it hard to get in contact with the right people to help with maintenance repairs that were needed in the property. As I had just turned 18, with a newborn, this made me feel isolated and down. I know that if I had this magazine, it would’ve have helped me out of that situation massively.
  • This magazine has been handed out to TAs, Housing associations and local community organisations. Greater Manchester Authorities are also looking to print copies of it.
  • We made it for Salford, but this magazine is not just for Salford, it is for everyone who needs it.

Martyn Hague (ForHousing):

  • We, as housing professionals, also find the housing system confusing. This magazine covers that and tries to explain the system in simpler language.
  • Not everyone knows who to speak to when an issue arises, so we got access to roles across all services in housing associations and interviewed them.
  • We asked them to explain their roles and what support they could provide, as well as advise on how people could get that support.

MJ:

  • A lot of people who have lived or are living in TA have felt lonely, anxious and/or confused. These feelings topple with our own past traumas and make the whole experience daunting and negative to look back on.
  • Having support for people during these challenging moments in their lives would be essential to the wellbeing of the residents. Most common problem we experience is isolation, relationship break downs, being moved into housing in areas we are not familiar with, and lack of support.
  • Lack of maintenance and standards of care for the places we are staying in are a huge problem. Because the accommodation is Temporary, the issues do not get resolved quickly.
  • Moving out at such a young age, lacking the knowledge and skills of housing, cooking, and managing bills without support, can leave you in a constant cycle of struggle. This can set you up for failure.
  • TA should not equal temporary support.

Ellie:

  • Often people come to TA feeling isolated and alone.
  • It is paramount that TA organisations have resources in place to support the tenant and help them socialise with other people in similar situations.
  • In terms of finding employment while in TA, continued support at getting a full-time job is needed.
  • Universal credit should not decrease and rent increase as soon as tenant gets a full-time job. This makes it difficult for the tenant to make enough to pay for their rent, bills, and food every month.
  • To prevent recurrence of these situations, a phased approach to rent increases in line with living wage would be an appropriate solution.
  • We would like to know how you can incorporate that into your manifestos.

Debbie Blackburn from Salford City Council:

  • We need to commission services that deliver a meaningful experience. Engage with the lived experiences, support them, and give them the tools to be independent and resilient.
  • Support should not end at 25.
  • We must tailor services to support people with Adverse Childhood Experiences, and neurodivergence and help children get the best experience during their homeless journey.

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP

Gives thanks to the Salford Co-production group for their presentation, courage, and passion for making change within their communities. Rebecca Long-Bailey MP then proceeds to open the Q&A.

Q&A

RLB: What spurred you on to come together and demand for change?

Ellie: Laura brought us all together with our different experiences. We all had a mutual feeling that systems needed to change which ignited that fire to make the change ourselves. The more we came together to discuss it the more real it became. Making the magazine and being here only inspires more to make a difference in our communities.

Danny: When Laura first found me, I was in the young parents group. I had two little girls and with all that I had been through in life, I could never imagine my kids going through that. My main motivation was to make things better so that my kids would have a life they deserve.

MJ: It helped that we were also getting paid to work together – it made us feel that we were being taken seriously.

Danny: The support with transport was also very helpful in getting us to and from the place. For example, we would be supplied with bus passes if the meeting was quite far to get to.

RLB: What would you like to see in the Labour party manifesto? What change would you like to see?

Danny: To make access with Salford home search accessible for those who are homeless. For example, I was unable to create an account to search for a council property when I was homeless because I did not have an address. How are you supposed to have an address if you are homeless? This forced me to go to the Private Rented Sector (PRS) which then meant I was unable to get council property. I am stuck paying extortionate prices to prevent homelessness again.

Ellie: Introduce a phased approach to the rent increases when in full-time employment and living in TA. Without that it forces you into a never-ending cycle where you stay stuck in a poorly maintained accommodation. A support network is also crucial.

Julia: Making resources such as this magazine more available. Making sure anyone can access the information in an easy-to-understand format can grant people the support they need. Knowledge is key.

Danny: I am a big believer that schools do not teach you the basic life skills that you get thrown into at a young age. The information available is unhelpful and full of jargon. Better support and clearer information would be beneficial.

Debbie Blackburn from Salford City Council: Organisations need to be trauma responsive when supporting residents in TA which includes the language used. There are many young people entering homelessness who are neurodivergent and/or suffering from trauma, who are left unsupported and isolated. The language used can trigger trauma which can lead to more oppression.

Jane (Online): I am interested to hear what the young people think are important to make a place a home rather than just a house and did you see TA as a home?

MJ: We believe being a good home requires:

  1. Being ingrained into the community.
  2. Living near green spaces with places to walk and exercise.
  3. Having good transport links.
  4. Support from housing provider.
  5. Maintenance.

Danny: Knowing you can wake up the next morning without having to worry about how to get your next meal, whether you can afford your gas and/or electric and living in a good area and feeling comfortable where you are.

Julia: Little things can make a house a home. A place where you can call a space your own and decorate it with things that you like to make you feel more settled and safer in your own space.

Ellie: I believe having a safe and secure place, where the property is well maintained is most important. It doesn’t matter how much you decorate it, if you don’t feel safe, you can’t call it a home.

RLB: What can we do now as an APPG, to help you realise the potential you have, to make the change needed for our societies? It could be helping you to write to each political party a set of demands on their manifestos, or doing something more locally in your area and encouraging other areas to follow.

MJ:

  1. Spread the word.
  2. Informing people in your own communities and creating communities to voice out change.

Danny: Setting up similar strategies like in Salford in other places to help those most vulnerable get the support that they need.

Ellie: The magazine is a great baseline that is not only reserved for residents of Salford but for whoever needs it. Spreading the word and talking to your MPs will help materialise change.

Brenda (Online): You mention that more support for your family was needed before entering homelessness. What would that support look like?

Danny: It comes down to the parents themselves and what support they’re willing to offer to the young person. However, I found there is no real support for domestic issues for families. This can be very detrimental for a young person.

Ellie: Ensuring that there is a nurturing environment for the child that can be found via a support network rather than support workers. I would also recommend having building blocks of how to live independently as you grow up without having to fend for yourself.

Jordan: Support on providing knowledge would be very helpful for a young person. Some parents could pass on knowledge to their and other children on housing.

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP

Proposes the APPG to write a letter to the Prime Minister and party leaders with the list of the Co-production’s group demands to highlight the changes needed to help support those navigating the homeless journey.

RLB then concluded the meeting.

Meeting was concluded at 15:50.

Minutes of meeting: Monday 17th October 2023

5th All-Party Parliamentary Group for Households in Temporary Accommodation.

Monday 17/10/2023, 15.00-15.50, hybrid meeting
Room C, 1 Parliament St.

Joint Secretariats: Shared Health Foundation (SHF) and Justlife (JL)

Attendees:
Siobhain McDonagh MP (Mitchem & Morden, Labour), Rebecca Long-Bailey MP (Salford & Eccles, Labour) Felicity Buchan MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of state, Housing and Homelessness), Dr Mel Nowicki (Oxford Brookes University), Professor Katherine Brickell (King’s College London), Irhaa (Lived experience), Christine Arkam (Expert witness), Sam Pratt (SHF), Fran Anderson (Justlife), Jo Spurling (SHF), Sam Khan (Siobhain McDonagh MP), Caleb Neilson (SHF).

Number of attendees online: 20

Purpose:

To discuss findings from the recently published report ‘Debt Trap’, written by Professor Katherine Brickell and Dr Mel Nowicki. The report reveals how debt is a major factor in why families become homeless, how it worsens during their time living in Temporary Accommodation (TA), and then continues to impact on families even when their homelessness ends.
https://sharedhealthfoundation.org.uk/publications/the-debt-trap-report/

Meeting

Dr Mel Nowicki

Reader in Urban Geography at Oxford Brookes University and co-author of the report ‘Debt Trap (2023)’ begins the meeting by highlighted the findings from the report:

  • Debt is a major factor why families become homeless, it worsens during stays in TA and then continues to impact on families’ futures even when homelessness ends.
  • Rent arrears are leading cause of homelessness. Many women we interviewed were economically controlled, forced to rely on credit for everyday expenses, and in some cases enrolled into coerced debt.
  • Many describe these debts as another form of punishment that follows them, even after they leave their abusive partners.
  • Later still, when some women have needed to flee again, after being found by their abusers are hit with more rent and council tax arrears as they had to move quickly. In short, domestic violence feeds a debt trap.
  • Living in TA can negatively impact homeless families contributing towards their debt and a life of uncertainty. Stays in TA should be short, safe and healthy as possible however, the research shows that the key barriers to this are the rent arrears which inhibit families’ transition into permanent or social housing. Applicants in rent arrears can become ineligible to bid for homes or lose prioritisation on housing.
  • Women and children remain stuck in TA until they clear or reduce their debt to a certain level – or show their ‘intent to pay’ through consecutive repayments (rules are contingent on local authority).
  • Stays in TA also increase debt burden. For example, due to difficulties in procuring TA, homeless families are often moved miles away from their existing support networks and schools. Taking children to school often produces high expenses of up to £280 in transport per month. Additionally, those living in hotels or B&Bs lack basic cooking facilities such as a microwave and/or even a kettle, pushing homeless families to spend huge amounts of their income on takeaways to starve off hunger.
  • The rising cost-of-living, credit used to pay for transporting and purchasing household goods between each move, including the repeated errors in Universal credit and council tax calculations adds additional financial burdens on homeless families and increases their debt.
  • Inflexible and costly childcare also increases debt burden.
  • Even when families are allocated to permanent residency, it is often of substandard quality, meaning debts are accrued further in order to make the accommodation liveable (e.g. paying for carpets).
  • Incurring debt therefore becomes a necessity for survival during their homelessness journey.
  • While these individual debts ae generally small and negligible in purely financial terms, the research shows the disproportionate and negative impact they are having on the lives of women and children in these predicaments.
  • Solution: Scrap rules on outstanding housing-related debt determining property bidding eligibility.
  • Other recommendations outlined in the ‘Debt Trap (2023)’ report.

Irhaa (lived experience voice) with Professor Katherine Brickell

Irhaa, in conversation with Professor Katherine Brickell, shares her lived experiences of navigating domestic violence. Homelessness and debt as a mother.

Professor Katherine Brickell asks: Can you tell me a bit about your story?

Irhaa states:

  • Experienced domestic violence for 13 years, ever since the start of my marriage, both from husband and mother-in-law.
  • Husband kept my carers allowance from me, and I had very little access to money, which he controlled.
  • One of the reasons why I always put up with the domestic abuse was, I used to think, ‘How am I going to do it with the four kids financially?’
  • Emotional abuse developed into physical abuse, and I was almost killed.
  • I had to leave with nothing.
  • Lived in a hotel for 5 weeks with children before being moved to other temporary accommodation – but it had rats, huge cracks, it was dirty, and the garden was full of rubbish.
  • After six months, received permanent housing, but again in a poor state of repair, and required credit card borrowing to buy furniture and lay carpet – you cannot just have children on a bare floor.

Professor Katherine Brickell asks: What impact has debt had on you since?

  • Debt has been one of my biggest worries, I couldn’t get back on my feet – making the sums add up is impossible.
  • I struggle to sleep at night worrying about debt.
  • I sought support from StepChange Debt Charity and continue to repay my debts.

Christine Arkam (Expert witness voice)

Christine Arkam shares her lived experience navigating domestic violence. Homelessness and debt as a mother.

  • Some background about me: I was working full time as a teacher in a primary school and my children were between 6-7 years of age. Unfortunately, due to the domestic violence I was experiencing from my partner, me and my children had to flee from home. We moved into a women’s refuge for a duration of 18 months. Due to the distance between my job, my children’s school, and the refuge, I had to leave my job and move my children to a nearby school. The home we had lived in previously was in my partner’s name. He deceived me and coerced me into taking out bank loans. I was in £31,000 debt. He promised to pay them off but lied.
  • Every time we moved from accommodation to accommodation in the PRS I was always reassessed for benefits due to being a single mother in debt. By the time we reached TA I had built up so many arrears in rent.
  • I also moved my children back to their original school where they felt most familiar and had already made friendships for their wellbeing, however, the monthly transport costs increased my debts. The head teacher at this school, where I worked, was very helpful and even gave me my job back.
  • Eventually, we moved into permanent housing which was of poor quality. There was no furniture, so I had to rely on credit cards to buy white goods and cleaning products. The accommodation was in poor condition.
  • In 2021, I was made redundant and used the redundancy pay to pay off my credit debts.
  • After more than 10 years my children and I are still heavily affected by the trauma experienced.

Siobhain McDonagh opens Q&A

1. Felicity Buchan MP asks: “I have been informed that some of the debt placed onto women is enforced debt that they have not taken willingly. To what extent is it the case that women subject to domestic violence haven’t willingly taking it upon themselves?”

Professor Katherine Brickell answers: Not all domestic violence victims are coerced in debt, however, it is certainly a pattern that you can identify. Not sure if data would exist on all the coerced debt from domestic violence survivor victims. One of the things however, that crops up is the re-punishment of the domestic violence survivors through policies that are punitive in terms of the debts that they hold. Debts either not through their choice or even coerced. Those with rent arrears cannot bid on any social housing. And those in TA are faced with a debt burden to make the TA they’ve been allocated liveable and of proper standards. Most people who are in debt are so not by choice. The priority banding and allocation policy needs to be further reviewed.

Felicity Buchan MP states: “One thing that you brought up Katherine, is the quality of TA and this is something I am very focused on. As a government we need to ensure all housing is of a good and decent standard. Presently, we have just proposed the Social Housing Bill, enforcing higher standards are met on social housing, and we are in the process of bringing through Parliament the Private Renters Bill. This will therefore improve all types of housing and regulation. I know that in London, all the Local Authorities (LAs) have come together to work out ways to improve conditions in TA for households. Anyone who thinks the accommodation they’ve been allocated to does is unsuitable have the right to take it up with their LA.

2. Rebecca Long-Bailey MP states: “The report raises some important recommendations about increasing Local Housing Allowance and Universal Credit. “

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP asks: Following this report, do we want to draft our own letter to the Chancellor?” [agreed as action point that a letter will be drafted and sent]

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP asks: “Felicity, will you be putting the Chancellor under a bit if pressure to improve issues surrounding TA?”

Felicity Buchan answers: “We are in very detailed discussions with the Treasury, although decisions are not made until closer to the Autumn Statement which will be published sometime in November. I have listened to issues discussed and I hear you”.

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP asks: “Do you know when the Private Renters Reform Bill will be proposed?”

Felicity Buchan MP answers: “I cannot give exact timing of when this will happen, but we are looking into it. It is a manifesto commitment of ours, so we are committed.”

Amanda Aremie, (Adur & Worthing Councils) asks: “Is there anything that can be done to lift the cap on the rents LAs can charge on TA, so that LAs can procure better standards of accommodation?”

Felicity Buchan MP answers: “Very fair question. We are in discussions with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Treasury. Thank you for raising it.”

Siobhain McDonagh MP states: “There are councils fearing bankruptcy because of the amounts of money being spent on temporary accommodation. London councils are spending lots of money on TA. There are 400 TAs used in my constituency, throughout 23 years of my career I have never seen this”.

Felicity Buchan MP states: “We’ve huge pressures on the PRS and the Home Office have been hovering up lots of properties. We’ve had lots of arrivals of refugees from Ukraine (190,000), those from Hong Kong (180,000) and lots of asylum seekers. There are intense pressures on the housing market, and I am aware of the issues and the increasing usage of TA. My budget in DLUHC is £2 billion for TA for over 3 years, with £1 billion on homelessness prevention. We believe homelessness prevention is the key to reducing numbers in TA and so we’ve distributed this money to all the LAs in England. There has been lots of money invested into this. We are very focused on decreasing the numbers of TA. We are also aware of the problems involving Out Of Area (OOA) placements and Domestic Violence (DV)”.

Sam Pratt asks: “Felicity, there is a place held for the matter of TA in the Renters Reform Bill, but that’s just there as a placeholder with no government commitment included. Will TA be in the Bill?”

Felicity Buchan MP states: “Our philosophy is on improving all types of accommodation, and we are less focused on categorising TA as a specific type of housing. We are working more to improve standards instead”.

Siobhain McDonagh MP asks: “If someone was to approach the LA in my constituency, their response – most likely- would be to move you away to a different borough as there would be no stock of TA available. Trade off is between quality of TA and location and many sacrifice good standards just to remain local and live near their family and friends.

Professor Katherine Brickell states: “One thing Irhaa and I didn’t cover was how debt continues after homelessness journey.”

Irhaa states: “After 3 years of being on this journey, my mental health was affected, and I had no choice but to move back in with my husband because of the financial situation. He pays for me to live in a separate place with my children, however, I have to be careful. I must keep playing happy families with someone I hate; someone I am petrified of just so he can financially support me and my children. He has all the power, and he can decide one week to just not pay for the rent or food.

Professor Katherine Brickell states: “Irhaa’s story is very powerful because it shows the debt trap. Because of the impossibility of the maths, having to take this huge life decision, that no one should have to make. It is a trap that is failing women. It serves to show issues around gender inequalities and domestic violence, that have not been taken seriously enough. We hope from the report that the gender dimensions come out and the issues surrounding childcare and the difficulties women have to access employment are tackled. These issues are messy and complex and should be unpicked as such because TA is complex. So often when we think about homelessness, the issue of debt gets lost. Debt doesn’t occur through recklessness and financial literacy will not solve the problem. Women we spoke to are hugely financially literate. This needs structural change”.

Gabriella (online) asks: “In order to reduce numbers of vulnerable women (such as survivors of gender-based violence) and their children living in TA, the reforms in the PRS should involve procuring rent-controlled tenancies for women, as proposed by the Women’s Budget Group. If the Local Government works in tandem with the National government to ensure affordable rent are set to the local women’s wages (rather than the general average wages), some of the bottlenecks in the emergency housing system could be addressed. What are the likelihood measures such as this to be considered by the government?”

Felicity Buchan MP answers: “We are not going to do rent controls and the reason for this is, when rents were controlled, it introduced (ironically) higher rents. This was due to landlords leaving the PRS housing market and the shortage in supply. It just hasn’t worked. What we are looking into in the Renters Reform Bill is where rent can only be raised once in the year and can only be done so fairly to prevent high rent increases and rick of evictions”.

Actions:

To draft a letter to the Chancellor, urging them to increase the Local Housing Allowance
and Universal Credit rates due to the important recommendations highlighted in this
report.

Meeting was concluded at 15:50.

Minutes of Emergency Meeting: 11th September 2023

Emergency All-Party Parliamentary Group for Households in Temporary Accommodation and All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ending Homelessness

Monday 11/09/2023, 13.30-15.07, hybrid meeting
Portcullis House.

Secretariats:
APPG for Households in TA – Shared Health Foundation (SHF) and Justlife (JL)
APPG for Ending Homelessness – Crisis

Panellists: Dr Laura Neilson (SHF), Francesca Albanese (Crisis) Siobhain McDonagh MP (Labour), Bob Blackman MP (Conservative), Vicky Spratt (iNewspaper), Daniel Hewitt (ITV News), Kate Webb (GLA)

Attendees in person: Sam Pratt (SHF), Christa Macvier (JL), Simon Gale (JL), William Lewson Cole (Office of Natalie Elphicke MP), Anna Gorrell (Office of Catherine West MP), Hinna Ghafoor (Office of Catherine West MP), Harry Axelson (Office of Ben Everitt MP), Sally Cullins (Office of Richard Bacon MP), Amy Bentham (Office of Sharon Hodgson MP), Josh Hartley (Office of Sharon Hodgson MP), David Taylor (Havering Council), Emily Page (Pathways), Nicola Taylor (Office of Apsana Begum MP), Jack Logan (Office of Anne Marie Morris MP)

Number of attendees online: 140

Purpose:

An emergency meeting called by the APPG for Households in TA and APPG for Ending Homelessness to stress upon the need of a National Strategy on the homelessness crisis and increasing number of children (131,370) currently living in TA.

Meeting

Bob Blackman

Co-Chair of the APPG for Ending Homelessness opens the event, welcomes attendees, introduces the panellists, and makes opening remarks:

  • We meet against the background on the increasing requirement for TA – there are stark statistics from London councils and across the country of households and children in TA.
  • In my constituency – children in TA have been moved around multiple times, causing disruption to their education and wellbeing.
  • Number of homeless households in TA has hit highest point in record in the last 25 years ago.
  • There are many issues involved.
  • My secondment private member’s Bill on Supported housing on exempt accommodation is now being regulated for the first time. We are still waiting for enactment, however.
  • This is good news but still there are many vulnerable people out there being exploited by scrupulous landlords.

Francesca Albanese

Executive Director of Policy and Social Change from Crisis is pleased to have joined forces with the APPG on TA and discusses the latest findings from the ‘Homelessness monitor’ – a longitudinal study (part funded by Crisis and Joesph Rowntree Foundation), that provides a summary of homelessness impacts due to recent economic and policy developments in the UK.

  • Homelessness in England is on the rise and usage of TA is acute, reaching 104,000 households and 131,370 children currently living in TA. This is enough to fill over 4000 classrooms.
  • Monitor looks at current trends and predictions of homelessness, including all forms of homelessness such as: statutory homelessness, sofa surfers, people living in cars and unsuitable buildings – this developed data set is seen as the core of homelessness which is driven predominately by inflation and rising private rent costs, (alongside evictions).
  • In short-term homelessness will increase. There is mounting pressure on households being pushed into homelessness and those already homeless are forced more and more into unsuitable TA, with insufficient amount of suitable accommodation for people to move into.
  • Most striking finding from the monitor is the pressure LAs are under to procure housing in Private Rented Sector (PRS).
  • PRS housing rates, lack of housing supply and frozen LHA rates are prime factors causing the homelessness crisis.
  • However, we have modelled policy solutions as part of this research: 1) Short-term focus on households and social housing allocated to homeless households, 2) Increasing LHA to 30 percentile rates, 3)
  • Maximising homelessness prevention, and 4) Long-term increase of social housing supply by 90,000 in the next 15 years.
  • A national strategy (implementing these solutions) needs to address all forms of homelessness and the wider systemic issues of TA, and there needs to be a clear strategy on TA.

Dr Laura Neilson

CEO of Shared Health Foundation and doctor in Paediatric Emergency medicine. Laura requests clip of MP Siobhain McDonagh announcing in Parliament the increasing figures of children stuck in TA from 2019-2023 to be shown to panellists and online attendees.

  • The issues highlighted today are not something that parliament are unaware of.
  • There are in England 131,370 children stuck in TA and year-on-year there is a steady increase. We expect this to go up quicker this year for many reasons: 1) Processing and eviction notices, and 2) Issues already raised regarding housing market.
  • As a doctor I see a huge cohort of homeless children. About 1 in 23 children in London are homeless. This is not only affecting housing sector but public services such as schools and NHS.
  • Children who enter homelessness journey have all faced the day when they must be moved quickly to a different accommodation. Some of the children I’ve seen through the support hub we service in Oldham (and one opening in Heywood) have no where to sleep by the end of their school day. This is not an uncommon story.
  • Reasons why children end up in TA is multitude: 1) Domestic violence plays a big part, 2) Relationship breakdowns, 3) Financial pressures, 4) Landlord and Local Authority evictions, 5) Children coming out of asylum systems. 1 child never had a home throughout their whole years in primary school.
  • Lots of trauma develops from this unsettling experience and yet we expect children to move multiple times at such short notice. This makes it difficult to make friends, integrate at school and make meaningful relationships. We know that all this has an accumulative effect on a childhood’s development, and how they end up as adults.
  • From NHS angle, these children are less immunised, fallen out of health checks and health systems. For children on waiting list, once they get to the top of that waiting list, often they have been moved out of area and must start again. This is the same in many areas of support such as education.
  • Young children in particularly perform badly overall when living in TA. Common TAs are small and overcrowded, we’ve seen many toddlers unable to crawl and risk of them being unable to walk due to restrictive physical space. Children in TA also eat a lot of fast-food as there are no cooking appliances for home cooked meals.
  • Another concern about TA is safety. We’ve had conversations about damp, condensation on windows, children gaining injuries due to there being no stairways and no basic safety features, no plugs, no plumbing. As a doctor I see children with head and body injuries because of this.
  • No safeguarding – at the moment, we are mixing children in TA with adults who have many different needs and pose risks to children. Yet we are mixing them, unchecked in accommodation. I urge for action around safeguarding risks.
  • Last year we conducted a mortality view with Bristol University and asked the question – “ How many children had died in TA in the last couple of years?” This had never been asked before. We found out that 34 children died in TA. This is equivalent to a whole primary school class. Most of these children were under 1 years of age with no medical problems. There was no reason why these children should have died.
  • Combination of poverty, chaos, and unpredictability that leads to such tragic cases, and a lot of the times it’s the result of not having a cot.
  • Children are placed into TA with no cots available. Who is responsible for the cot? We provide cots at our Hub – they are really cheap and can be lifesaving.
  • I am asking for cross-party focus on this. There are ways in the NHS to improve this: 1) a Notification System to integrate public sector services, 2) Equal rights for children in education suffering with homeless as Looked After children, 3) Safeguarding to be taken seriously, 4) Proper risk assessment and 5) Cots for these young children.
  • There must also be quick action to combat these issues. In our own homeless families support service we have seen a 300% increase in the last 6 months. This is a national issue that is barely hidden.

Vicky Spratt

Housing Correspondent, the iNewspaper reveals saddening case studies of families who were moved out of borough to unsuitable TA:

  • This is emotional for me because I have worked for years with a mother whose child died from living in TA, her name is Kelly.
  • Case study of Kelly whose asthmatic son died from living in a destitute TA away from original locality. Kelly’s son died in the ambulance on way to hospital. Kelly did not know her local health services. Had she remained in the area her children grew up in this would’ve been avoided. This is what displacement means for families and children. It shouldn’t be happening.
  • I covered a story with a FOI expert Jack Shaw where we looked at the impact of these out of area placements. The data Jack pulled showed that nearly 30,000 households like Kelly were moved out of their original locality. We estimated that around 70,000 households in total.
  • Families are moved away from there familiar surroundings and plunged into complete chaos.
  • I have spent a month speaking with women in these situations and most of them suffered with avoidable tragedies.
  • Case study of Stacey a 40-year-old carer who was moved out from her home. The new TA had no furniture, and she doesn’t know how long she will be living in her current home. She had also been made unemployed because she could not commute the long distance to her job.
  • Case study of Besty: who was moved out of her original locality as there were no affordable housing. One of her children is autistic and nonverbal. Her husband works as a security guard in west London and would commute long distances often. Betsy would take children far out to a school that had special support for her child and spend rest of the day waiting in this area until end of school day to take her children back home. On top of this, the TA they were moved to was on the top floor of a block of flats. She had to struggle up the stairs with her children and a child that is very difficult to deal with. The council told Besty there was nothing they could do. However, I made them move her and the family back to their original area. It shouldn’t take a journalist to do that.
  • There is no plan for TA. I have been reporting on this for 10 years and it’s only getting worse.
  • TA can be fatal, and the case study of Kelly shows how evictions can cause potential dangers to lives.
    This issue is acute in London but areas across England are also affected.

Daniel Hewitt

Investigations Correspondent for ITV News reports on case studies and findings of families pushed into the brink of homelessness and living in unsuitable TA:

  • 2 ½ years ago we first started looked how initially the issues surrounding social housing and then came across a block of flats in England where the conditions were described by Shelter and others, as the worst in Britain.
  • In a block of flats in Croydon I can absolutely see how you can end up with 34 child deaths. A family in a flat had so much damp and safety risks I was surprised the children hadn’t already been injured or killed.
  • Conditions were appalling. Damp everywhere, water in the electrical appliances, carpet drenched. That was a TA.
  • Many cases such as these have been happening for a long time. We are at a crunch point where lack of intervention, support, and policy on this has widen the net of poverty.
  • We hear a lot of the times that work is the way out of poverty, but from what we’ve seen that is simply not true.
  • Case study of 1 man with family who had a no-fault eviction. This man has a full-time job but could not afford to pay Landlord’s asking price of £1500pcm rent. Plunged into TA in the PRS sector but through the experience he saw his children’s health deteriorate. He was doing all the right things to earn his keep but had been thrown to the wolves. His local council told him there was no housing available. I’ve seen this happen to many families.
  • Biggest worry I have is that these families are losing hope. That is a very dangerous place to be in.
  • The main party do not have a grasp of this national scandal and it is not treated as a national scandal by enough politicians or press.
  • The impact TA has on children cannot be overstated. Some families who are moved to hotels or B&Bs are left there, forgotten for months and months.
  • We’ve created a generation of children that may never have anywhere to live and are absorbing all that uncertainty.
  • This issue has to be top priority for the main political parties.
  • There needs to be a post-war plan to quickly re-build good social housing to accommodate all that are stuck for long periods of time in TA.

Kate Webb

Head of Housing Strategy for Greater London Authority (GLA) makes following statements on the pressure’s councils face on the ground:

  • 1 in 23 children in London living in TA fills up more than just one classroom.
  • Undoubtably this is a pressure that looms larger than life for politicians working in London.
  • We need to acknowledge that the safety net we ask households to fall upon doesn’t feel very safe or central or very much like a public service aimed at improving lives.
  • Policies makers should not shy away from these issues.
  • I think it is important that people think about the eco-systems that LAs are working in. What we are seeing is a housing crisis.
  • People simple cannot find an accommodation that they can afford or there isn’t any accommodation on the market in their area. In fact, the agency that they are turning to for help are also struggling with the barriers.
  • There isn’t a magic pool of accommodation that LAs can call upon.
  • Lack of accommodation that the household could afford is what is driving the usage of out-of-area TA (increasingly out of London), hotels, B&B and other forms of TA.
  • LAs budget is being crippled by TA spend.
  • All of London boroughs are aligned with the Mayor of London and other cross-sector organisations in acknowledging that this is a priority where action must be taken.
  • What we cannot shy away from is that the big policy leaders, treasury, and central government need to be pulled into this discussion and step up to pull those levers.
  • Reformation of LHA rates must happen. People on standard incomes in London cannot afford rent. LHA has become a mainstream part of how people on standard incomes make ends meet.
  • What you get on LHA rates bears no resemblance to reality and this exacerbates pressures onto LAs.
  • LHA rates have been frozen since 2020. What we hear less from is an additional LHA route that helps keep people in TA- this has not changed since 2011.
  • We need to invest in social housing urgently. The state has the responsibility to put the investment in which will pave a way out of this crisis.
  • At the moment, there is no way we can continue relying on the PRS – we must have a new build strategy.
  • We are looking at short-term solutions as realistically we will not be able to build enough homes by January next year. The consensus is to look at acquisitions in London however, there are certain constraints to what can be pulled from the housing market.
  • None of this is new evidence and unfortunately, we haven’t moved the big decision makers enough.

Siobhain McDonagh opens Q&A

1. Rachel Williamson asks: “Is there any hope that government will use the Autumn statement to discuss LHA rates and housing?

Francesca Albanese – Keep the pressure on anyone in a position to highlight issues and make change.

Vicky Spratt – Find new ways to explain the issues with policy makers.

Siobhain McDonagh – There should be a monetary policy commitment to reduce the impact of rent in the PRS. In all honesty, I do not believe the housing crisis and LHA rates will be mentioned in the Autumn statement. I hope I am wrong.

2. David Taylor asks: “How are LAs supposed to balance upkeep of housing standards with procurement?

Vicky Spratt – Lead from examples of good social housing.

Kate Webb – Lobby government urgently to see what plans they must solve this issue.

Siobhain McDonagh – Get local MPs and Councillors to join forces and protest issue for investment in housing standards.

3. Helen Lawrence asks: “Is there a consensus on mitigating people from being moved out of area?”

Dr Laura Neilson – Shared Health Foundation provides service through their Focused care project that supports people throughout their homelessness journey. However, this responsibility cannot be held by charities alone.

Siobhain McDonagh – Additionally, implementing a service akin to Ofsted will improve safeguarding for households, preventing many from being moved out of area.

Minutes of meeting: Wednesday 7th June 2023

4th All-Party Parliamentary Group for Households in Temporary Accommodation.

Wednesday 07/06/2023, 11.00-12.00, hybrid meeting
Room C, 1 Parliament St.

Joint Secretariats: Shared Health Foundation (SHF) and Justlife (JL)

Attendees:

Sam Pratt (SHF), Christa Maciver (JL), Siobhain McDonagh (MP, Labour), Baroness Natalie Bennett (Green party), Rob McCartney (Manchester City Council), Ian Swift (Islington Council), Jonathan Pritchard (Southern NHS Foundation Trust), Paul Sylvester (Bristol Council), Lord Richard Best, Mary D’Arcy (Common Projects), George O’Neill (Cardinal Hulme)

Number of attendees online: 37

Purpose:

To discuss the impact of Temporary Accommodation on Local Authorities across London, Manchester, and Bristol.

Meeting

Chair of APPG Siobhain McDonagh (SM) began the meeting and introduced the first speaker Rob McCartney (RM) Assistant Director for Homelessness for Manchester City Council.

RM provided an overview of Manchester Councils position on TA.

  • Extremely challenging, there are still 3200 households in TA however, the shift towards homelessness prevention work and changing our allocations policy has helped reduce numbers.
  • There were 227 households in B&Bs now 37, stays are only for 6 weeks no longer.
  • Striving to reduce number of households moved out of area. 1 family currently placed out of catchment area.

Actions:

  • Aim is to improve work on prevention from TA with alternative supply. Negotiations with landlords and preventing section 21 evictions.
  • Cost of placing households in B&Bs projected at £33 million pounds, currently £7 million in a full year.
  • Changing allocation policy – households accepting private rented sector (PRS) properties continue to be owed same level of priority for social housing allocation and therefore more willing to accept PRS.
  • Housing line officers checking 415 cases per week, working on prevention opportunities and move-on options.
  • Prioritising paying for prevention than investing in TA. Preventing households becoming homeless can reduce demand for TA.

Ian Swift (IS) Director of Housing Needs and Strategy for Islington Council (Second speaker).

IS provided an overview of Islington Council’s position on TA.

  • The homelessness framework is broken.
  • Massive overspends in budgets, pressures from homelessness prevention and homeless services.
  • Services are led by residents’ needs and political ambitions – we don’t believe people should be in TA, and if they are it should only be for a short stay.
  • Any prolonged stays can affect mental health, links with health, adult and children’s services and educational attainment.
  • 1050 households currently living in TA, with 50% of those placed out of borough.
  • Last 12 months a 35% increase in TA usage. This is due to PRS markets offering no LHA rates.
  • More people in TA than last year due to reduction in social rented accommodation.
  • Forced to move people outside Islington as cannot rehouse them.
  • 50% households living in council own TA. Other 50% living in some form of PRS that is not secure.
  • More government investment in homelessness sector is needed.

Actions:

  • Like Manchester, we are redesigning our allocation scheme in July, providing more priority to those in prevention stage.
  • Putting people into private rented sectors; we don’t use B&Bs.
  • Need to reshape service providers and redesign the homelessness framework.
  • 30% LHA rates must be reinstalled as the current structure is flawed.
  • Welcome a new approach to TA usage into a more regulatory framework, to keep focus on residents. A greater focus on TA Action Groups with Shelter & Crisis as the residents’ voices are crucial.

Paul Sylvester (PS) Head of Housing Options for Bristol Council (third speaker).

PS provided an overview of Bristol Council’s position on TA.

  • There has been a rising increase in TA usage; 87% increase compared to number of households before the pandemic.
  • Currently 1300 households in TA- difficult to reduce.
  • Last couple years we have seen a steady rise in family with children households using TA.
  • Policy aim is not to place households out of area, but if we can’t rehouse them within Bristol, then we re-allocate them to areas with easy access to transport.
  • Alongside increase in TA, rising costs due to increase in placements and inflationary pressures increasing the average unit cost in managed private TA.
  • Our net costs in TA are £11.5 million which is putting pressure on council budgets. Housing subsidy is also fixed at the 2011 rates adding to this concern.
  • High housing provider charges are the main issue- unsustainable.
  • Significant financial pressures on social care- considering cuts to homelessness services.
  • Average rent in PRS is between £350 to £1300 p/m dependent on size of the property.
  • Capacity to supply TA for growing demand isn’t there but we are working on it!
  • LHA fixed rates compared to market rates is a massive problem.
  • Limited availability of TAs in Bristol impacting on households’ support networks as moved away.
  • Emergency situation – not enough emergency grant available to manage homelessness pressures.

Actions:

  • Council delivers millions of pounds in homelessness services.
  • Homelessness grant from DHLUC at £3 million per year, however, this is not enough to cover costs.
  • Working ambitiously to provide a growing number of affordable housings. We are working on council housing new bill programme – 1000 new affordable homes in 2024.
  • More supply of social rented housing.
  • Emergency Accommodation (EA) Standards Framework released in 2016, to improve management of standards. All properties inspected. Have seen improvement in quality of provision. We are working with providers delivering properties at lower end of market.
  • Justlife taken interest in Bristol, establishing TAAG and we are meeting them for the first-time next week.
  • Cross-cutting cross-council TA programme. Aims to reduce the cost of TA to council and meet the needs of clients.
  • Over allowance on privately managed TA system. We are keen to address this by commissioning more supported housing and increasing in-house provision. Plans to achieve this by this year.
  • Increasing supply, converting council assets, acquiring properties of a new build, and installing module units.

Jonathan Pritchard (JP) Associate Director of Housing and Community Inclusion at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust who presented overview of services and work achieved across county of Hampshire and city of Southampton.

3 mains streams to my role:

  • Looking at discharge destinations for services users – how we are discharging them along with links to housing teams.
  • Approach and strategy towards key worker accommodation.
  • Changing how we work within the community.

How we work with Local Authorities (LA) partners to ensure that people owed can stay in their own homes or move through systems easily.

  • The ‘Everyone In’ campaign example: Joint workers supported people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness; created new partnerships with LAs embedding mental health clinicians into local authority housing teams.
  • Currently 5 posts live covering 6 LA areas. These roles are preventing hospital admissions, avoiding evictions, keeping people safe and well in the community.
  • Data set from 1 LA that had MH nurse embedded in team. Colleague remained in post for year when data was collected supported 50 clients: prevented 9 people needing hospital admissions who were in community-based accommodation, 14 referrals made to social care authorities, 2 referred to specialist support action for those with more complex needs in TA, 10 avoided evictions.
  • Reducing social stressors in service users lives that prevents them from engagement with housing providers and LA teams such as piloting citizens advice in the hospital. First 12 months of pilot, citizens advice worked with 64 people. 388 distinctive advice needs. Main advice areas are housing and financing but also supporting those with wider issues i.e., transport. £115,000 financial benefit for these people.
  • Working with DWP, and job centre colleagues delivering drop-in sessions for our service users.
  • Interventions allow quicker discharge and sustainability. People who are more settled are less like to need emergency health care or TA.
  • Implementation of these opportunities demonstrate better support for underserved populations.
  • Must build trust between partners, share information in the government framework, individuals and organisations to be more agile in response to local issues, and remove stigma often attached to mental health and living in TA.
  • Be honest – are we serious about ending homelessness.

Questions:

SM opened the panel for Q&A:

Q1:

Lord Richard Best Is the Oversight Bill on supported exempt accommodation helping, should it need to be licensed and how much do LAs use this type of accommodation?

IS We support Bob Blackman’s Oversight Bill on supported exempt accommodation. It is needed! We don’t use exempt accommodation for TA because of the dangers of placing households in this sector.

RM Our TA figures do not support exempt accommodation. Work happening on supported exempt is most needed.

PS 1250 units of supported accommodation for households which is deemed as supported exempt. We do not have any dodgy providers of supported exempt accommodation.

Q2:

Online What capacity do landlords have to monitor and enforce minimum standards of TA and is there anything we can do so that medical evidence is not charged for?

SM: Recommend seeing your local MP.

IS Islington Council does have a quality standard framework– available on our website. We have a standard for TA, we are expecting all landlords to hit that standard. In terms of charge, we have policy not to go to doctor. We will write professional medical review.

RM We would contact GPs directly and we wouldn’t charge for it. Our TA properties are inspected, though there is much pressure in housing teams and homelessness sector. Needs to be an improvement on standards in PRS.

PS Our properties are inspected but we struggle to have routine inspections of standards. We don’t have the money to employ people to inspect standards proactively.

Q3:

Mary D’Arcy Is there a push from this committee to look at LHA and subsidy requirements, to talk about the policy on this, the requirements and where it is currently sitting?

SM What are the co-secretariats doing for families and children?

Sam Pratt What we found working in Greater Manchester is that families placed in TA have no wider support to help them engage with education, health, housing, etc. Not anyone’s fault just no funding or resources available. At SHF we implement Focused Care workers to work one-to-one with families. An advocate providing holistic support for families and working in the middle space with the family, LAs and other sectors involved.

Q4:

George O’Neill Are there any lessons or interventions to improve child support in TA?

RM Confusion between rough sleeping and homelessness. Reality is that 10,000 families a day needing TA. We don’t have properties to rehouse families quickly in Manchester. We have a new way we view homelessness. Most homeless families are in TA. Starting point is to focus on homeless families and separate rough sleeping and family homelessness.

PS Most families who are homeless need some support. We are looking at commissioning more supported accommodation with registered providers. We are focused on improving family experience in TA.

Q5:

Online What is the greatest prospect for positive change in London?

IS Subsidy in Islington is broken – redesign of homelessness framework is society’s responsibility to solve homelessness. Focused groups to channel residents’ voice are crucial to implement sustainable change. Ultimately, there is a need for more social housing.

Plans for next APPG

To investigate housing benefit subsidy and local housing allowance rates for residents living in TA.

Meeting concluded at 12pm.

Minutes of meeting: Wednesday 26th April 2023

AGM of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Households in Temporary Accommodation.

Wednesday 26th April, 15.00-15.30, in person meeting
Room W1, Westminster House

Co-Secretariats: Shared Health Foundation (SHF) and Justlife (JL)

Attendees in Person:
Sam Pratt (SHF), Ischia Wise-Martin (SHF), Christa Maciver (Justlife), Siobhain McDonagh MP (Labour, Chair), Rebecca Long-Bailey MP(Labour, Secretary), Bob Blackman MP (Conservative, Vice chair), Stephen Timms MP (Labour, Vice chair), Karen Buck MP(Labour, Vice chair), Paula Barker MP (Labour) and Lord Richard Best.

Agenda

To vote on re-electing existing officers to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Households in Temporary Accommodation.

Meeting

Chair of APPG Siobhain McDonagh MP led the meeting with the following:

  • Highlighting the agenda for the meeting
  • Provided vote for Siobhain McDonagh to continue as Registered Chair of the APPG
  • Provided vote for Rebecca Long Bailey to continue her role as Secretary of the APPG
  • Provided vote for Sir Stephen Timms, Karen Buck, Bob Blackman, Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle to continue their roles as Vice Officers of the APPG
  • Provided vote for Shared Health Foundation and Justlife to continue role as co-secretariats of the APPG

Participates of the meeting voted in agreement on the above votes.

The meeting was concluded at 15:05

Minutes of meeting: Wednesday 18th January 2023

3rd All-Party Parliamentary Group on Households in Temporary Accommodation.

Wednesday 18th January, 14.00-15.30, hybrid meeting
Room Q, Portcullis House

Joint Secretariats: Shared Health Foundation (SHF) and Justlife (JL)

Attendees in Person:
Sam Pratt (SHF), Dr Laura Neilson (SHF), Alex Procter (Justlife), Christa Maciver (Justlife), MP Rebecca Long-Bailey (Labour, Secretary), MP Bob Blackman (Conservative, Vice chair), MP Stephen Timms (Labour, Vice chair), MP Karen Buck (Labour, Vice chair), Baroness Natalie Bennett (Green party, Vice chair), MP Paula Barker (Labour, ), MP Felicity Buchan (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State DLUHC), Lorna Fraser (Head of Homelessness Strategy & Policy DLUHC), Professor Peter Fleming (NCMD), Sylvia Stoianova (NCMD), Vicky Sleap (NCMD), Nick Jeyarajah (Citizens UK), Michael Buchanan (BBC reporter)

Number of attendees online: 112

Purpose

To a) launch and present the APPG’s report which magnifies the substandard conditions of TA based on the findings from the Call for Evidence survey (2022).

b) propose a 7-point policy plan, the first of which to bring TA under the scope of the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill whereby, the conditions of TA can be scrutinised to decent standards.

c) create action plan for next APPG meeting.

Meeting

14.00 Rebecca Long-Bailey (RLB) MP for Salford & Eccles acting as Chair for MP Siobhain McDonagh.

RLB Welcomed and introduced agenda for meeting:

  1. Quick introduction from co-secretariats
  2. Reflections from Minister of Housing & Homelessness Felicity Buchan
  3. Presentation from NCMD Prof Peter Fleming
  4. Clinical and social reflections from Dr Laura Neilson
  5. Policy requests and next steps from co-secretariats
  6. Q&A from in the room and online

14:05 Sam Pratt (SP) Welcomed and thanked everyone. Proceeded to highlight following points:

  • Following first APPG meeting last year Call for Evidence survey was launched (April 2022). The aim for this was to collate evidence of state of TA across England from lived experiences.
  • Evidence includes disrepair, accessibility issues, lack of support, poor maintenance, and safeguarding risks. The report is a collection of those findings.
  • National Child Mortality data uncovered – 34 child death cases where homelessness and TA were a contributing factor.
  • TA is under regulated and current consumer standards are not enforced.
  • Our aim is to look at solutions and policy to improve lives of 90,000 plus households and 120,000 plus children living in TA

14.10 Felicity Buchan Thanked co-secretariats for report and proceeded to make the following reflections and objectives from Department of Levelling up Housing & Communities (DLUHC):

  • We want to work to improve housing regardless of which tenure, private or social.
  • We value your experience and are determined to work in corporation with your organisations and NCMD.
  • We were shocked to hear about Awaab Ishak’s case. We are determined to address issues such a mould from across the board. We are on the right track but there is further to go.
  • TA crosses both social and private rented sectors (PRS). With PRS we will bring forth the Renters Reform Bill, introducing a 12-point plan into legislation including a new single Ombudsman to give tenants further rights to hold landlords accountable. There is also the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill, currently in its report stage of legislation at House of Lords. We’ll be thinking of ways to apply these consultations effectively.
  • We need to ensure standards of TA are good, and that there are no more child deaths.

FB introduced Head of Homelessness Strategy & Policy Lorna Fraser. FB explained that Lorna will remain for the rest of the meeting on her behalf but cannot take Q&A

RLB -FB Inquired over update on TA amendment to be under Social Housing (Regulation) Bill, so standards can be improved.

FB Made following response:

  • As TA covers both social and private rented sectors, we do not think it would be appropriate for regulation of TA to be included under the Regulator for Social Housing.
  • Our aim is to be transparent – we do not think it will work as this will overburden the Regulator.
  • We want to explore how regulation and Local Authority (LA) licensing best practice can be as good as it can be.

FB left meeting at 14:15

RLB introduced Professor Peter Fleming (PF), National Child Mortality Database (NCMD)

14:15 PF Thanked co-secretariats for the presentation and proceeded to explain the child mortality data in association with homelessness:

  • The NCMD collate information from the statutory child death review process on all children in England who die before their 18th Birthday. All child deaths must be notified within 48 hours.
  • 56 Child Death Overview Panels (CDOPs) review all deaths in children to ensure lessons are learned.
  • NCMD look at all unexpected and unexplained deaths and analyse data to learn how and what led to a child’s death and how to prevent this from happening again.

Findings:

  • Infants under 1 year – there was a modifiable factor between unexplained deaths of infants and deprivation.
  • 72% of unexplained deaths in infants from unsafe sleeping arrangements and 8% from a poor housing environment. Unsafe sleeping was main cause of child deaths associated with extreme poverty.
    Mothers want to create a safe sleeping environment for the child but the lack of provision of cots and space for them forces the mother to co-sleep with their infant.
  • 123 of the 212 child deaths reviewed in 2020/21 where main issue identified was housing – cases contained evidence linking to deprivation. This includes families being based in TA or being moved frequently to new accommodation, creating unsecure living environments for the child/children.
  • Overcrowding was another theme identified and associated with deprivation and poor housing. Others included damp/mould and disrepair.
  • 33 child death cases where homelessness was mentioned – most common themes of child deaths were from single mothers with babies who died prematurely, families with young children and young single people.
  • Over a fifth of all child deaths might be avoided if children living in the most deprived areas had the same mortality risk as those living in the least deprived.
  • Child deaths reported between 1st April 2019 to 31st March 2022 – 200 individual records of homelessness and TA present in child’s life at some stage.
  • 34 cases of child deaths where TA and homelessness may have been a contributing factor.
  • UK ranked 22 out of 23 in Western Europe for under 5 mortality rates.
  • Housing can be linked as the biggest cause of death.

Actions for DLUHC & Local Authorities:

  • Robust system in place for identifying families living in poor housing conditions and prioritising them within housing allocation schemes. We found that for example if a family has 3 children and one dies, they are automatically moved down priority list for housing.
  • Housing officers and Local Authorities must carry out appropriate checks on housing to ensure it is suitable for children (infants) and carers to prevent risk of child death.
  • Recognition that a cot during prioritisation for housing must be in place during allocation of families with infants under 2 to practice safe sleeping.
  • Locally and nationally, we must take action to see what we can change and how we can stop this from occurring again.

RLB Thanked Professor Peter Fleming for his reflection and welcomed Dr Laura Neilson (LN) to the panel.

14:25 LN Introduced herself and her role as A&E doctor and within SHF, then proceeded to reflect on the clinical and social case studies of homelessness on the ground:

  • Most common cases I see are mothers fleeing domestic violence.
  • These mothers are often put into substandard TA and/or environments that are unsafe inducing further trauma.
  • We often see these mothers moved multiple times and out of area, miles away from local hospitals or cities – difficult to keep track of and easy to lose contact with them.
  • This makes them extremely vulnerable – with no eyes on them and no automatic system to inform services such as GPs, schools etc of the families’ situation and needs.
  • Multiple moves and poor communication create an unstable living environment for children. Children experiencing this will find it difficult to remain in one school, and/or have good educational attainment. It can take a child 9 months to settle into a school. Children are also at risk of being expelled especially if schools are unaware of family’s situation.
  • Our project Healthy Gems has massively helped many pregnant mothers and families experiencing homelessness and fleeing domestic violence. Support for women however, is very dire.
  • These women are often placed in TA such as hotels that are not like holiday hotels. The rooms supplied by these hotels are small often providing only bunk beds, minimal to no basic provisions, and no room for cots.
  • To deny a mother with an infant a cot is just awful. Landlords providing TAs are paid vast amounts of money and they can afford to provide the family with a cot.
  • A cot is a life-saving equipment.
  • We are far away from best practice, with 120,000 and more children currently living in TA and families (in some cases) given less than 24 hours notification of moving from TA to TA, the trauma will continue.

What we need:

  • A cross communication between all relevant services such as housing, health, LA, etc.
  • To understand the complexity of homelessness from trauma, domestic violence, and evictions.

I do not want children living in these conditions, I do not want this to keep happening in 10 years’ time as we the public put them further at risk. We can fix this; we can create a policy like NHS’ ‘never event’. Could we make it a ‘never event’ to have children placed in TA paid for by the public purse and there not be a cot?

RLB Thanked LN and introduced co-secretariats to disclose the 7-point policy plan.

14:35 Alex Procter & SP Announced copy of report available online via APPG website. Continued to disclose 7-point policy requests found in Chapter 5 of the Call for Evidence report:

1. Regulator for TA

We request for TA to be included under the scope of the Social Housing Regulation Bill. However, we are willing to explore other bills where regulation of TA can be strictly enforced. Wherever it lands, there must be nationally led standards in TA. We also want to consider how we can regulate TA under licenses that offer less security unlike other tenancies.

2. Basic facilities and adaptations in TA

Almost all evidence from the report showed poor maintenance such as stained beds, no hot water, broken light fixtures. We request that all TA to have the basic provisions, fixed and provided for the accommodation before households move in. Additionally, we want the provision of cots to be included in Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) legislation for all families with infants through the housing allocation scheme.

3. Support and Supervision for Housing Officers

A reproducible trauma-informed practice where supervision and support for housing officers who are regularly assisting households with trauma is given. There is an alarming rate of housing officers being overworked and under qualified to take on these caseloads.

4. Holistic support

When forced into homelessness and requesting help from LA, it is difficult to keep track of documents/paperwork needed, most especially if that person is experiencing trauma, eviction or placed out of area. This is why we are requesting wrap around support where advocacy for households can be provided and those struggling can be supported through every step of the homeless journey. Housing First and Healthy Gems are great examples of providing holistic support.

5. Notification system

We request a nationally led notification system linking housing, health, education, and other sectors to support families who have been placed in TA. This idea is based on ‘Operation Encompass’. It becomes a safeguarding issue when a child is placed into TA, and we must work to protect every child.

6. Transport access

We are aware that bus fare support is already provided for children living in TA however, the guidelines are complicated. Eligibility is based specifically on distance/miles from school and a child’s age. The system is also unclear, difficult to navigate and is limited to only school aged children. We are requesting the department for transport to provide clarity and support for all those experiencing living in TA. A TA bus pass can help children get their education, but it can also help adults access employment.

7. Mapping the Out Of Area (OOA) placement systems

One third of people are experiencing OOA causing disruption in their daily lives. We want the government to take a strategic approach to the growing trend of OOA placements to better enable Local Authorities to support those placed OOA. This includes improving communication between LAs and reducing the number of people placed OOA.

RLB Opened Q&A

14:45 Q&A

Natalie Bennett (NB) Regulator for TA needs to be included under the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill (SHRB).

Bob Blackman I have discussed this with the Minister, and it is clear we need regulation in this sector. There was some confusion whether to add TA into the Supported Housing Regulatory (Oversight) Bill. I will investigate how we can include this into SHRB.

Stephen Timms There are already environmental officers and inspection officers in LAs. How are they not enforcing and inspecting the standards of TA?

SP The demand is so high and the capacity of housing officers in Local Authorities haven’t caught up due to lack of funding and resources. Salford has had a 238% increase on homeless household presentations pre/post covid.

Online:

Michael Buchanan Large office buildings are being converted into TA. To what extent are they regulated?

LN From what we see on the ground there isn’t any regulation.

NB These are usually industrial buildings far away from local networks. The environments are horrendous, and the rooms usually have only one small window and insufficient space.

Comments/Questions from Zoom chat

  • In response to the Minister’s suggestion of local authorities regulating TA owned by private landlords. LAs can’t regulate TA as they’re the ones providing it – a local authority can’t take itself to court.
  • It’s not simply providing a cot. It’s having the space to put it in the room where it’s not next to a radiator, under a window or next to a damp/mouldy wall.
  • In London, more and more clients are bounced around hotels for months and months. And I’m sure it’s only a very small percentage who would get in touch with an organisation like mine for help.
  • Too many TA providers treat it as nothing more than a business. The conditions are horrendous. There needs to be much more accountability.
  • In terms of food, it’s such a basic need and isn’t addressed. Needs to be part of the support provided – or at the very least for families and individuals to have access to cooking facilities – proper cooking facilities not just a kettle and microwave!!
  • And if they don’t then it should be flagged and dealt with – proportionate costs for TA providers based on what they are providing. If they don’t provide cooking facilities, they should cost less and the extra funds should go towards helping these people. E.g for core costs for many voluntary and third sector groups who are willing to help with food for people in TA – but many get their suggestions shut down or their emails left unanswered.
  • People in TA can’t be expected to take the opportunity to better their lives when they are in survival mode thinking about how are they going to feed themselves and their family; how are their children going to learn well on a poor diet?
  • We need more partnership working and creative thinking to help people in TA in the short term as well as the long term.
  • I would like to ask that a notification system to NHS be included in the Strategy: we still have issues with LA’s (11 in Surrey) sharing information with, claiming GDPR, despite the fact that they know that out Inclusion Health Team know are.
  • Is it normal for the council to tell families that properties that have not been inspected by themselves (the council) is fit for families to live in or is deemed suitable?
  • There is some case law which touches on this but it relates to discharge of duty with PRS offer rather than TA – judgment was that the LA could not form a sufficient view “that the accommodation is not in a reasonable physical condition” without investigating “the condition of the property before any approval…” by either “inspecting property 2 themselves, or being supplied with a report about it from a reliable source.”
  • It’s an uphill slog to challenge the suitability of TA but it can be done, especially if there is enough strong evidence. However, even once the LA has agreed not suitable, clients still find themselves waiting months and months for another offer.
  • Interesting thing is that if a mother or parent did not ‘ safeguard ‘ their child they would get into trouble but here we are not safeguarding the children and families- but no one takes responsibility.
  • How do you decide what’s suitable in the room in a hostel or B&B? There are people with autistic children that have no sense of danger that are being given bunk beds in their rooms, and when they ask for bunk beds to be removed, they are told that the council deems it to be suitable for them.

15:00 End of Q&A

RLB Our objectives for next APPG are:

  1. To map out next steps – we need to look at amendments to be made – Bob could feedback on which Bill TA will be included. We need to put some methods to keep discussion going.
  2. To invite Local Authorities to the discussion (in person) who can provide solutions to mitigate this.

RLB Thanked all for attending (online and in person) and the co-secretariats.

15:05 RLB ended the meeting.

Minutes of meeting: Tuesday 12th July 2022

2nd All-Party Parliamentary Group on Households in Temporary Accommodation.

Minutes of meeting: Tuesday 12 th July, 14.00-15.00, hybrid meeting
Room C, 1 Parliament Street

Joint Secretariats: Shared Health Foundation (SHF) and Justlife.

Attendees in Person: Siobhain McDonagh MP, Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Karen Buck MP, Yaasmin Mughees (guest speaker), Sam Pratt (SHF), Alex Procter (Justlife), Kwajo Tweneboa, Jo Spurling (SHF), Jenny Pennington (Shelter), Emma Mulhound (Justlife),
Ischia Wise-Martin (SHF)

Attendees online:

  • Kendra Schneller – Queen’s Nursing Institute
  • Robin Johnson – The PIElink
  • Ella Prudhoe
  • Kesia Reeve – Sheffield Hallam
  • Julie Desborough – Brighton YMCA
  • Emily Hedley – GM Deprivation
  • Felicity Mallam – Wates Family Enterprise Trust
  • Sarah Owen MP Hannah Rich – Shelter
  • Jennifer Tarabay – Southampton
  • Katherine Brickell – RHUL
  • Nicola Spurr – Journalist
  • Rebecca Brennan
  • Gina Skipwith – DHSC
  • Paul Hackett
  • Molly Bishop – GMCA
  • Mary Carter, London Housing
  • Partnership
  • Beth Kilheeney – GMCA
  • Jo Richardson
  • Tracey Jones – Homeless HV Team
  • Steven McIntyre – Stonewall Housing
  • Emma Roe – SHF
  • Fatima Debras – SHF
  • Maria Byrne – Southampton City Council
  • Caitilin Hayes – GMCA
  • Paul Wishart – Oak Foundation
  • Alice Reynolds – RHUL
  • Deborah Garvey – Shelter
  • Hattie Sander – UCL
  • Sam Monger – grosvener
  • Monica Lakhanpaul – Lead Champion Trust
  • Amy Nelson – Notting Hill Genesis
  • Karen Simmonds – DHSC
  • Tammy – Office of Apsana Begum
  • Jenny Symmons- Sarah Owen’s
  • Matthew Frosdyck – SHF
  • Micheal Creedy
  • Nick Clare – Social Science Mental Health
  • Gareth Webber – Shelter
  • Clare Caudery – Birmingham Fair
  • Katy Parker – The Connection
  • Liam Geraghty – The Big Issue
  • Rik Child – Brighton & Hove Faith in Action
  • Alex Firth – HRW
  • Leila Barker – London Housing
  • Mariana Schiller – Greater London Authority
  • Joanne Bernhaut – East Sussex Council
  • Jane Woodhull – Switchboard
  • Miranda Keast – Museum of Homelessness

Chair: Siobhain McDonagh MP for Mitcham and Morden

Introductions

Siobhain McDonagh (SM) opened the meeting by welcoming all the attendees, in person and online. SM then proceeded to make the following introductions:

  • Congratulated the joint secretariats Justlife and Shared Health Foundation (SHF) for successfully collecting all the data from the Call for Evidence which was launched back in May
  • Explained the sad nature of responses from Call for Evidence but was grateful that the gravity of the responses will create the attention it needs

SM handed meeting over to lead secretariats:

Sam Pratt (SP) thanked all for attending the meeting and went on to provide a brief introduction on the Call for Evidence and why it was launched:

  • The aim for the Call for Evidence was to create a snapshot of the status of TA across England
  • TA in England often gets overlooked by both media and policy makers, but there are over 90,000 households in TA, with 120,000 being children.
  • Most TAs are unfit for human habitation, providing a lack of facilities such as beds, bedding, cookers, and other basic provisions
  • There are more factors impacting the standards of TA than just the bricks and mortar such as: lack of support for households moved out-of-area, barriers to GP registration, safer sleeping for infants mentioned nowhere in any legislation, and children in TA not viewed equally as ‘Looked after children’ and therefore receive no support for their vulnerability

SP followed by briefing a short summary on Call for Evidence:

  • Call for Evidence was launched back in May, where it was sent out to friends, partners in health, housing, and other homelessness organisations with the aim of sending through any case studies from those who are living in or have lived in TA
  • In just 6 weeks the survey for the Call for Evidence received over 71 responses, covering 89 stories of single adults and families from all over the country

Call for Evidence video – duration: 5 minutes

The video showed displayed many personal and professional testimonies (from health or support workers who were involved with the household) on experiences from living in TA across England. Many of the accounts shared covered living with overcrowding, infestations, issues with out-of-borough placements, unsafe environments, disability discrimination, discrimination, and lack of support.

Brief data on submissions

SP revealed data on those who had responded to the survey:

  • Out of all the respondents from the Call for Evidence, 40% currently or recently lived in TA
  • 32% were professionals working with them
  • 29 respondents were from single adults, with 38 from a family unit
  • Shockingly 26% who submitted reported feeling unsafe in their accommodation

SP followed on from the Call for Evidence to introduce ‘The Champion’s Project Research’ on children living in TA during COVID, reading a quote from the Lead Champion of the project Professor Monica Lakhanpaul:

“The prolonged lockdown, social isolation, poor environment, and lack of support during COVID has exacerbated existing and new health and developmental issues for children under 5. The root causes of these issues are linked to the environment that the children are living in. This includes hygiene issues, overcrowding and poor housing conditions.”

SP concluded his speech by addressing that there are good examples of TA with a few housing officers in Manchester actively partnering with health providers to ensure support is provided to homeless households. However, SP stated that with many cases are presenting unsustainable TA. It is in our mission to find solutions that ensure stays in TA are safe, brief, and non-recurring.

SP moved on to introduce co-secretariat Alex Procter to the panel.

Alex Procter (AP) thanked all for attending, including an additional thanks to all charities and other body organisations for their part in helping raise awareness of the Call for Evidence.

AP went on to make the following statements:

  • We acknowledge that not all examples of TA provided in the Call for Evidence were negative and that there are a few TAs in reasonable to good conditions
  • Examples of these are emerging slowly in Manchester, with properties in quality conditions being used for TA
  • Other improvements show housing systems across England collaborating with health providers, and or social prescribers to integrate a well bodied and holistic support for the households
  • We understand that one of the best solutions to ending homelessness and shortening household stays in TA is to create more social housing and affordable homes. However, this cannot be built overnight
  • We must look to other short-term solutions that can improve the outcomes of those residing in TA. Of course, it is not possible to change the present standards of TA but what solutions can we collaboratively find?

AP moved on to highlight the key themes that were found in the Call for Evidence

  • Poor maintenance, leaks, damp, and mould
  • Poor infrastructure, collapsing stairs
  • Lack of fixtures, no hot water
  • No or minimal disability access, leaving many unable to physically move around the space they lived in
  • Unsecure environments – people living in fear due to violent neighbours and no lockable doors
  • No supported accommodation leaving people feeling lost and overwhelmed

AP argued the urgency in finding solutions to change the policies surrounding TAs, highlighting that homelessness is a complex issue which needs to be at the forefront of our minds when creating actions.

AP concluded her speech by announcing the Call for evidence report which will be realised in full on the APPG on households in TA website.

Guest speaker: Shadow minister for Housing Rough Sleeping, Sara Owen MP

Sara Owens (SO) began by addressing the importance of language and how it is used to represent TA and homelessness.

SO made the following statements:

  • There is a massive misunderstanding of what homelessness is, with many people believing homelessness refers solely to rough sleeping. People are often referred to as ‘unhoused’ rather than homeless
  • A majority of people who are homeless are actually housed but having that roof over their head does not necessarily mean that they are living in good conditions
  • Additionally, there is a misconception on the gendered nature of homelessness. Many perceive men are usually the most likely to end up homeless, but there are twice as many women than men living in TA

SO moved on to discuss the TA crisis in Luton North where she represents.

  • Luton North has the highest TA figures in the UK and the reason behind this is two-fold
  • Most households living in London or in boroughs nearby are being housed in Luton
  • Many councils surrounding this area and other networks in the nearby boroughs are not in communication with each other. Having an open network between boroughs would be part of the TA solution, creating a prevention with notifications alerting authorities of uninhabitable, small living spaces that would be unsuitable for the household

SO continued by adding other issues needed tackling:

  • There needs to be a focus on tackling the root causes of homelessness, with the assistance of health and other organisations
  • Section 21, no fault evictions need to be banned
  • Painting a true picture of homelessness will be a step forward in creating awareness for those living in TA. If there is no true scale of how the homeless system works, how will policy makers best tackle the situation?
  • Building truly affordable housing would be a great solution, but fighting against the poor standards of the PRS should be the main focus
  • Must not forget that TA is a glaring part of the homelessness issue

Q&A with Sarah Owen

Karen Buck (KB) made the following statements:

  • One of the main themes we see with TA is the rise of out-of-borough placements which reinforces underlining problems.
  • We know that we need a prevention strategy and more social housing, however, it is possible for the government to make these steps possible and even manage the problems seen in TA
  • Many children with special needs have been moved out of the borough in which they grew up in , and there are parents commuting 1-2 hrs to and from school, using up their benefit cap and paying more than £60 per week

Q: Can we make a six-point plan on actions that could be taken to address these issues?

Kwajo Tweneboa (KT) addressed the audience with the following statements:

  • No matter how long the stay in TA there is never any stability
  • Main concern is the welfare of children, who are often a cohort of overlooked victims. As seen time and time again, children are moved from TA to TA and this affects their prospects in education.
  • For schools, children living in poor housing conditions is not considered a safeguarding issue resulting in children being left without any support
  • Quality of housing you live in strongly affects your education, yet poor housing conditions aren’t considered a safeguarding issue when it comes to children

Q: Will there be someone who will address safeguarding rights for homeless children?

Rebecca Long-Bailey (RLB) stated the following:

  • Hosted a session for my constituents in Salford as an opportunity to share their experiences living in TA
  • Many of those who attended were hesitant to share their stories to a public body – perhaps they told their stories many times but heard no responses

RLB touched on a possible short-term solution to the TA crisis:

  • With plans of devolution of powers from central government to LAs, we could set up a Local Charter on the state of TA, giving those sharing their experiences hope that they are being listened to

SM answered RLB’s suggestion with the statement below:

  • I do not believe that a guidance on TA will ever be enforced by LAs. The reality is that most statutory guidelines are not adhered to.
  • A solution to this problem would be to incorporate an ‘Ofsted’ like inspector to inspect LAs and see if they are delivering what is expected. The inspector would be used for households placed in TA and could enforce discipline within the department for housing

Guest speaker Yaasmin Mughees, (YM), lived experience

SM introduced panellist YM to share her lived experience in TA

YM shared the following:

  • In 2010 moved from Manchester to Oldham into NARS accommodation as there were no other TA options. The location of the placement was far away from extended family
  • Moving from NARS to TA was a horrible experience. There was no communication of where next TA would be. I was forced to call housing associations to find out about the next planned steps that I was not informed on
  • In 2014 moved into TA for 6 months before securing a permanent home. The state of the TA was very good, with great facilities
  • Commuting to schools however was difficult as there were no bus routes and became quite expensive
  • My children’s education and numeracy skills improved greatly in TA, so I was shocked to hear during the Homeless families: share your story gathering (hosted by SHF), that other mothers living in TA had contrasting experiences
  • Going through these experiences stays with you so it saddens me to see people going through such terrible experiences

Guest speaker Molly Bishop, (MB) strategic leader of GMCA, Professional experience

SM introduced next panellist with professional experience Molly Bishop (MB)

MB thanked SM for the introduction and explained her role as the Strategic Lead for GMCA working across 10 LA areas of Manchester.

MB explained possible reasons for the current TA conditions as referred from the Call for Evidence video:

  • Areas where there are poor standard TAs are mostly due to lack of funding or funding that is dysfunctional. If there isn’t a funding model in place for TA then this (referring to testimonies in Call for Evidence video) is the end product that will be seen
  • Biggest drivers for LAs is preventing families being placed into B&Bs. In GM we have spent time working with collaborative partnerships, aimed at excluding families from entering B&Bs. Where this is unavoidable, minimum standards have and are being included
  • Issues with acquiring policy funding for TA and supported accommodation occurs where it is not commissioned, so it becomes harder to enforce
  • LAs can use housing benefits as subsidy for income
  • The Homelessness prevention grant is the only way that housing can clone their Local Housing Allowances (LHAs). A consultation on the prevention grant would be ideal, but requires further investigation

Q&A

SM opened the Q&A for the in-person attendees

George O’Neil (GN) Chief Executive at Cardinal Hume Centre

GN stated the following:

  • Problems surrounding TA would not be solved if the quality was improved. The whole experience of TA can be hurtful
  • Evidence of problems with adults becoming homeless stems from early childhood

Q: Wouldn’t it be best to enforce stronger obligations on LAs on how they offer support to mitigate TA on children?

Lead Champion for Childhood Trust project, Professor Monica Lakhanpaul, ML

ML stated the following:

  • There are actions that can be made in the short-term to alleviate immediate risks to children in TA
  • Firstly, must consider the environmental effects and the impacts it has on children
  • Reduce the frequent moves of families living in TA
  • Applying advocates for children who can provide a supportive service for when children arrive at a new school to reduce the stress and trauma

Policy Officer at Shelter, Deborah Garvey, DG

DG stated the following:

  • The housing benefit overall is not good practice. The cap massively affects those fleeing from domestic violence, and has remained the same since 2016 despite the rise in rent
  • Homelessness is not a complex issue, shelter knows this. The problem arises from being unable to afford suitable homes

Q: Where do you direct the funding? Do you direct people to take funding out of the system, or do you increase the housing benefit to make rent affordable?

SM invited the virtual audience to the Q&A

Senior Coordinator at Human Rights Watch, Alex Firth, AF

AF -SO:  we know what we need to do for prevention, but more social housing will take time. If Labour were in power, what steps would you take in the interim to deal with the issues of poor conditions that exist in TA?

Faculty of Social Science Mental Health Lead, Dr Nick Clare, NC

Q: The important role of gender has been flagged here but did the research find out much around the roles that race and ethnicity play?

Consultant in Public Health, Joanne Bernhaut

Q: Does the department for levelling up housing and communities collect data on people in temporary accommodation or just those who sleep rough?

The question above were left unanswered

SM concluded the discussion by acknowledging the need for an action plan. SM delegated the joint secretariats with the task of creating a five-six point strategy plan that could resolve the short term complexities for those living in TA

SM thanked everyone for their attendance and finished the meeting at 3pm

Minutes of meeting: Monday 25th April 2022

Minutes of meeting: Monday 25th April 2022, 14.00-15.30, hybrid meeting, Portcullis House, Thatcher room

Attendees (on panel): Siobhain McDonagh MP, Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Alex Firth HRW, Karen Buck MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP

Joint Secretariats: Shared Health Foundation (SHF) and Justlife.

Chair: Siobhain McDonagh MP for Mitcham and Morden

Introductions

Siobhain McDonagh (SM) opened the meeting by welcoming all the attendees, including non-parliamentarians who attended in person and virtually. SM then proceeded to make the following introductions:

  • Thanked the joint secretariats Justlife and Shared Health Foundation (SHF) for all the hard work in forming and organising the APPG.
  • Explained the purpose of the APPG on Households in Temporary Accommodation (TA)which is to improve the lives, health, and experiences of those living in TA, through campaign, advocacy, and investigations to solutions.
  • Announced a Call for evidence, a survey created by the secretariats to collect live data on households who have lived or are currently living in TA. SM affirmed that this would be officially launched later in the meeting.
  • The agenda of the meeting, presenting upcoming speeches from expert guest speakers Alex Firth (senior coordinator of Human Rights Watch), Fiona McLeod(former TA resident) and Eddie Hughes (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State on Rough Sleeping and Housing). Followed by a Q&A to conclude meeting.

SM introduced and handed over meeting to lead secretariats:

Alex Procter (AP) thanked Siobhain McDonagh for her help in organising the meeting and went on to explain the role of Justlife:

  • Justlife is a charity that works alongside those living in TA or Unsupported TemporaryAccommodation (UTA) who are often referred to as hidden homelessness.
  • Justlife works on creating strategies to prevent the hidden homeless them from falling into the homelessness and does this by providing healthcare, housing and wellbeing advocacy support. AP moved on to explain that due to the sub-standards of TA and the negative impact it has on those living there, Justlife and SHF collaborated to form the APPG in the effort to create a national strategy that will improve the conditions and living experiences of TA residents.

Sam Pratt (SP) thanked all for attending and followed by introducing SHF to the panel:

  • SHF is a not-for-profit organisation that develops and or funds grassroot projects aimed at positively impacting the lives of those living in deprivation. The organisation will act holistically on a clinical-led and evidence-based approach.
  • SHF with help of its sister organisation Focused Care (FC) has assisted many families, children and pregnant women who have fallen into the homeless system, and has witnessed the appalling conditions of TA which homeless families are often placed in.
  • Families including children living in TA will most likely suffer from poor mental and physical health.  For these reasons an APPG was formed with Justlife.

Guest Speaker 1. Alex Firth, Senior Coordinator at Human Rights Watch

Alex Firth (AF) began his speech by stating that households in TA and with the lowest income are those that are in dire need of attention. AF then continued with the following:

  • A quote by George Orwell in 1937 (a journalist and writer who in the 1930s documented the poor housing conditions of the working class) which addressed the high tolerance of the poor on the living state of social homes and how due to the shortage in available housing, Local Authorities (LAs) remained limited in providing liveable homes.
  • Explained how the quote scarily parallels the housing conditions of TA today, despite the improvements we have seen in living standards within the 85 years passed since that quote was made.

AF moved straight onto the interviews he conducted during the research project for the HRW report, ‘UK: Temporary Accommodation Violates Children’s Rights’ which he co-authored with the Childhood Trust. He described encountering many horrific housing conditions and hearing how these situations affected the households:

  • Bed bugs and mouse droppings in cupboards
  • Other pest infestations
  • Mouldy damp walls resulting in breathing difficulties or chest infections most common with children
  • Cold room due to mould as the windows must be kept open for ventilation
  • Families sharing single bed properties or shipping containers
  • Children missing out on school due to their living situation and often being out of borough

AF stressed that these poorly conditioned TAs were provided by LAs, but unlike in 1937, LAsare now able to make a home more liveable. The speech was then concluded with an urgency for a Framework on Standards. A strategy for LAs nationally to create adequate housing for all temporary homes.

The Launch of the Call for evidence

SM announced the official launch of the ‘Call for evidence’ at 14.15 and declared that the evidence collected from the survey will be shared at the next APPG meeting.

Guest speaker 2. Fiona McLeod, former resident of TA

Fiona McLeod FM briefly introduced her involvement with Justlife TAAG network and began sharing first hand experiences of her former life as a TA resident. She described having to share a small hotel room with her adolescent son for 5 years, way beyond the length of time in a TA should be. She moved on to highlight the difficulties both she and her son faced being out of borough, the inability to get to certain destinations such as school or work and the non-existence of Wi-Fi. FM described how all these situations came to negatively impact the physical and mental wellbeing of them both, especially the mental health of her son, whose social and educational development was affected.

Guest speaker 3. Angie Ouattara, Focused Care Practitioner for SHF

Angie Ouattara AO introduced herself as a FC Practitioner for SHF and midwife of 20years. AO proceeded to provide insight on her experience assisting women living in TA and described the barriers of health inequalities that led them to poverty:

  • Complications because of traumatic experiences and fleeing domestic violence were one of the main reasons that led pregnant women or women to living in TA.
  • Women during post perinatal phases were often placed in shared and unsuitable accommodation which posed serious health risks
  • The inability to navigate the health and appointment systems and the inaccessibility to the internet made their stay in TA worse and isolating.

AO further detailed the difficulties women encountered setting up documentation while living in TA, such as lack of photo ID or banking statements. AO moved on to conclude that by improving access to health, mental and housing services; registering people to the local GP of the TA; and providing support throughout appointments that would have most likely have been missed would ultimately solve the issues mentioned above. However, AO stressed that this could only be achievable if the issue was acknowledged nationally.

Guest speaker 4. Eddie Hughes, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Rough Sleeping and Housing

Eddie Hughes joined the meeting at 2:30pm in person.

Eddie Hughes (EH) began his speech from his department’s perspective on issues of TA and the prospective plans to solve them. Some of the plans are referenced in the government’s White Paper on Levelling Up. The aims included:

  • A £11.5 billion investment into Affordable Housing Programme – constructing enough social homes to meet the demand.
  • A new ‘Statutory decent homes standards’ for private and public housing.
  • Reducing non-decent properties by 2030.
  • A new Landlord licensing scheme and National Landlord Register to prevent landlords in the private sector from raising rents, going rogue and prevent continuation of section 21 no faults evictions. (Name and Shame Landlords scheme).

EH addressed that TA should be a stepping- stone for households rather than a destination and pledged that the DLUHC will commit to ensure shorter and healthier stays in TA, adding that as an absolute minimum, TA should not pose any risks to the health and wellbeing of its residents.

EH concluded his speech adding that it is recognised that the government may overlook problematic issues surrounding TA and hidden homelessness. Before inviting the Q&A, EH informed the panel that anything which could not be answered by him or his team during the Q&A will be seriously investigated.

SM opens the Q&A

Questions from the panel

Karen Buck (KB) MP for Westminster North addressed the following:

  • Households in TA are housed under licences not under a tenancy agreement
  • Statutory requirements around standards of PRS accommodation will not apply to TA

KB asked:

Q: Will the government make changes to enforce standards in TA?

Lloyd Russell-Moyle (LRM) addressed the following:

  • There’s confusion on who is accountable for where Households are placed
  • LAs should be held responsible for households but are bearing the brunt of the demand with lack of housing supply and are relying on Landlords to make the allocations.
  • Households placed out-of-borough or in unsuitable TA as a result

LRM asked:

Q: Who has the responsibility to place Households in accommodation and will the government help LAs to support the Households they allocate?

Rebecca Long Bailey (RLB) addressed the following:

  • Local councils do not have the capital funding to procure TA
  • As a result, property developers and landlords are buying multiple properties andconverting them to HMOs (Housing multiple occupants)

RLB asked:

Q: Will the government invest in securing more supported accommodation to meet the demand?

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) asked the following:

Q: LAs have lost a large amount of social housing though the Right to Buy Scheme. Does the Government plan to give discretionary powers to LAs to freeze or refuse applications for Right to Buy?

Questions answered by EH

EH – KB: I do not have the answer right now, but my team and I will investigate your query. EH – LRM: The Local Authorities hold duties to prevent people from falling into homelessness and are responsible for providing the households suitable accommodation as part of their duty-to-refer. Although we are aware that LAs look to the PRS to meet the demands of housing supply which can include inappropriate allocation for Households. The House of government however plans to introduce New Powers to LAs to better manage their local supported housing market which will meet the needs of its residents should LAs want it.

EH – RLB: Houses in multiple occupation play a vital part in the housing market and often provide affordable and safe accommodation, especially for the communities that they serve. However, where a HMO poses a risk to the wellbeing of their inhabitants and or its local area, we devolve local councils robust powers to regulate standards and management of HMOs. If necessary, local planning authorities can also create limitations on the rapid growth of HMOs by requesting to remove the national permitted development right. Additionally, the government will introduce £20 million funding towards supported accommodation enabling LAs to procure and sustain good social housing.

EH – GMCA: I do not have the answer right now, but my team and I will investigate your query.

EH left APPG meeting at 3pm. His team continued to answer the following questions below

Questions from the virtual audience

Jack Shaw addressed and asked the following:

  • Two decades ago, less than 1 in 10 households were placed outside their area, some of them many miles away
  • Now it is 1 in 4 households.

Q: Are there any plans to address out of area TA placements directly?

Molly Bishop, GMCA addressed and asked the following:

  • There is a permanent need for some quality TA that is well suited to recovery and decent living.

Q: Will the government consider the ‘Finnish’ example of investing in the transformation of hostel and BnB accommodation into evidence-based quality accommodation (self-contained)?

Housing Programme Director at Crisis, Fay Greaves (FG) Will DLUHC be developing a definition of ‘minimal and rare’ for statutory TA provision?

Questions answered by EH’s team:

EH’s Team – JS: While LAs aim is to secure permanent accommodation for Households, the time spent in TA ensures households are receiving the help they need and are not without a roof over their head. The homeless code of guidance sets out that LAs at first point of duty-to-refer should try to place households within their local area. The LA should also establish links with schools, doctors, and other key services of support. However, if this is not possible, the LA have a duty to place the household as close as possible to the original local area and any placements out of LA area should be as a last resort. If any LA place a household into TA out of the local area, they are therefore required by law to notify the LA of the placement to ensure there is no disruption with employment, school, or transportation.

EH’s Team – MB, GMCA: The government has made clear that the use of bed and breakfast accommodation, most especially for families with children is inappropriate and unlawful and we are determined to stop this practice. The government is fully committed to fully enforcing the Homeless Reduction Act and including assisting LAs to support households to move out of TA, especially such as B&Bs and hostels.

The government will also be investing £11.5 billon into the infrastructure of new social housing, under the Affordable Homes Programme which will include delivery of new supported housing, which will take away to pressure of B&B placements. Alongside these measures, the DLUHC will also provide £20 million towards the Supported HousingImprovement Programme based on the clear successes of the Supported Housing pilots that were able to drive up the quality of accommodation and support to its residents. The programme will be a vital part of the improvement in quality for some of the poorest
affected areas.

Funding for this three-year programme will be open to bids from all LAs.

EH’s Team – FG: We do not have the answer to this right now, but the team will investigate your question.

SM concluded the meeting at 15:30

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