Today, Wednesday 23 February, Preet Kaur Gill MP will lead calls for reform to the exempt accommodation sector in the House of Commons.
Labour’s Opposition Day debate will focus on exempt accommodation which in the last five years has overwhelmed Birmingham’s housing stock, increasing by 62% and now provides over 21,000 units with support to some of the most vulnerable people.
As Preet Kaur Gill MP will explain, current regulation is extremely limited which is allowing “too many bad landlords getting into this sector for the wrong reasons, exploiting a toxic cocktail of relaxed regulation, a Conservative housing crisis and an epidemic of unmet need after years of council cuts.”
In her speech, Preet will share how working with local residents, Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police she was able to successfully close Saif Lodge, an exempt property in the constituency which was causing huge problems for neighbours – the first order of its kind in the country.
Preet will say to Government that this care cannot be provided on the cheap and that we must seek reform. It should be noted that there is no statutory definition of what care, support or supervision is in the context of exempt accommodation.
Therefore, there needs to be five main asks for reform:
A statutory definition of the care, support and supervision.
Resources for local authorities to fund inspection programmes for exempt in their region.
Ensure individuals and families housed in exempt have a link to the area they are placed.
Give local authorities and the social housing regulator greater enforcement powers and strengthen the vetting process.
Birmingham has called for government to align existing planning and HMO licensing policies to capture supported housing provision that is currently exempt from licensing and give local authorities powers to reject applications in a specific area on the grounds of oversupply.
Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Birmingham Edgbaston said, “Millions of pounds of taxpayer’s money is being shovelled to the operators of these exempt properties without apparent due diligence or scrutiny.
“The Government has had reports from Prospect Supported Housing, Spring Housing, policy recommendations from Crisis, Birmingham City Council, as well as reports from multiple community groups. All of these reports are pointing in the same direction. Yet, the Government has failed to act.
“Lives are literally at stake. Survivors of domestic violence; prison leavers; care leavers; people with mental health and substance abuse issues deserve a housing system that supports their transition to happier, more independent lives and our communities in Birmingham deserve neighbourhoods that are peaceful and safe, not a magnet for crime.”