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Update from the Temporary Accommodation APPG

  • 3 min read |
  • Posted by Justlife
  • On 30 March 2023

The All Party Parliamentary Group on TA has been busy. Following our call for evidence, and the recent report this resulted in, we have worked hard in the background on the first of the report’s seven policy asks: the creation of an effective national regulatory body for TA.

When the report was published, the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill was going through the second stage in the House of Lords, where it was debated before being voted on. For a bill to become law, both Houses (Lords and Commons) have to agree on its final form. This bill aims to improve the rights of social tenants and introduce stricter regulation. It crucially did not cover the majority residents of TA; a common oversight that is rarely recognised. We wanted to change that.

On the first March 2023, Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, Chair of the APPG for TA, proposed an amendment to the bill in parliament that would see temporary accommodation added. She spoke eloquently and at length about the need, quoting from the evidence in the report, alongside Rebecca Long-Bailey who also supported this amendment. Between them they spoke up for residents of TA for more than 15 minutes in the House of Commons.

Tonight there will be 99, 270 families, including 125,760 children sleeping in temporary accommodation at a massive cost of 1.6 billion pounds - an increase of 72% between 2012 and 2018 and a further increase of 41% between 2018 and 2022.

Hard pressed local authorities are seeking out ever more temporary accommodation which is uninspected and further away. The code of guidance specifies the nature and location of temporary accommodation but we all know that is a laudable aim, but they are not aims that are being met.

Out-of-area placements

Siobhain also raised concerns about out-of-area placements. In June last year, 26,130 out of the 99,270 households living in TA had been placed away from their home area.

That’s 26,130 households who are now further away from their families, friends, schools, jobs, churches, synagogues, mosques, everything that keeps them safe

The impact of these placements are particularly bad for children who are often moved miles away from their schools at short notice:

Imagine that your son or daughter were in year 11/13, about to take their GCSEs or A Levels and you could not get them to school because they were hundreds of miles away

The Decent Homes Standard and Renters Reform Bill should also cover temporary accommodation

The amendment was not voted through. Dehenna Davison, the levelling-up minister, said it was outside the scope of the bill, but continued:

“we will certainly explore it with [Ms McDonagh] to make sure that we drive up standards in temporary accommodation as well”

Although disappointing that the amendment was unsuccessful, it is an exciting first step. The fact that temporary accommodation was debated in Parliament at all is a first. The next step is to ensure the Decent Homes Standard (the minimum standard for social housing), proposed to extend to the Private Rented Sector under the new Renters Reform Bill (which would establish greater powers and protections for renters), would also cover temporary accommodation.

Last week, the new housing minister, Rachael Maclean said the bill would be tabled in parliament by the Autumn, a development welcomed by the APPG for TA. However, Justlife and Shared Health Foundation will support the APPG for TA to ensure the way TA is included is carefully drafted. Temporary accommodation covers a broad range of ownership models and licensing arrangements, which is why it falls through the gaps if no one pays attention.

If successful, regulation and oversight of temporary accommodation of any description would be enshrined into law. This will not in itself ensure that all TA is fit for purpose, but it will be an important benchmark which residents of TA, and those supporting them, can use to improve standards of the accommodation they are placed in. People will have to start paying attention.