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Massive increase in exempt accommodation revealed by Freedom of Information request

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the national homeless charity Crisis has revealed that 153,071 UK households were housed in exempt accommodation in May 2021, a 62% increase since 2016.

Exempt accommodation is intended for people with support needs, including those who have been homeless, recently left prison, fled domestic violence or are dealing with addiction issues.  The housing is supposed to come with additional support, which makes it ‘exempt’ from caps on Local Housing Allowance to cover the costs, allowing providers to charge higher rents, which are covered 100% by the Department of Work and Pensions through Housing Benefit.  A second FOI request made by Prospect Housing has revealed that at least £816m was spent by government on exempt accommodation in the last financial year alone.

Crisis describes the exempt accommodation sector as being “dangerously under-regulated”.  The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has found a number of providers of exempt accommodation to be non-compliant with its Governance and Financial Viability Standard, most recently publishing Regulatory Notices for 3CHA Ltd and Reliance Social Housing CIC.  Prospect Housing itself was the subject of two non-compliant Regulatory Judgements from the RSH in May 2020 and October 2020, and consequently its Board made the decision to close the organisation in February 2021.