Could the new minister’s working group help secure more support for homeless people and longer tenancies?
New housing minister Gavin Barwell invited Crisis to be on a working group for affordability and security for private renters. It’s an opportunity to push for more support for homeless people and to improve renting for all tenants.
Private renting can have its pitfalls but it’s often the only option for homeless people. That’s why our Home campaign calls on the government to do more to help homeless people to rent.
How? Well, ‘help-to-rent’ projects support homeless people to find decent, affordable places to live and good landlords. They help solve personal and financial problems, working with tenants and landlords to create homes that last. We know it works and so does the government.
Yet many are struggling for funding.
This October we’ll announce the six innovative projects that will take part in our £150,000 funding programme. With applications now closed, we have been overwhelmed by the response. Almost 130 projects from across the country submitted bids. Not being able to fund all these vital projects is frustrating. But it has given us lots of evidence to keep calling on the government to dig deep too.
The landlord groups involved in the working group have already backed our calls. And we’re asking others to do the same when we make recommendations to the minister in the autumn. Will the minister listen? Will he help us get funding for help-to-rent projects into the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement?
That’s not all we’ll be asking for.
The government has recognised the need for longer tenancies and has used its model tenancy agreement to encourage them. The minister says his new working group – made up of housing and homelessness campaigners, landlords, letting agents and others – is to “look at what more we can do to help people who require longer tenancies to get them.”
If he’s serious, this means looking properly at the default length of a tenancy (currently just 6 months). Where possible, help-to-rent projects negotiate with landlords for longer tenancies. But for private renting to provide secure homes for all tenants, the default tenancy has to be for years rather than months. And that’s exactly what we’ll be calling for in the working group.