Crisis campaign successes

Together with our campaigners, we have already achieved real change. Here are some of our most recent successes:

Unfair extension of the Shared Accommodation Rate

The Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) used to apply to single people aged under 25 on Housing Benefit in the private rented sector.

These claimants were restricted to the rate for a single room in a shared house, rather than the rate for a self-contained one bedroom property.

In April 2012, the Government extended this lower rate to claimants under the age of 35.

There are so many problems with the SAR including lack of availability of shared accommodation and shortfalls meaning most affected by this cut will lose their homes. Together with our campaigners, we campaigned relentlessly against plans to extend the SAR.

Key concessions won

In July 2011, the Government announced two key exemptions from the plans. Whilst the measure has still gone ahead, single 25-34 year olds who have lived in a homeless hostel for more than three months are still to be entitled to a modest one bed flat.

The Government has at last recognised the risk that the alternative - of unsuitable shared accommodation - could lead to repeat homelessness. The other group who will not be expected to live in shared houses are single 25-34 year old ex-offenders who continue to pose a risk to others. For the safety of others who share, we of course welcome this.

We remain very disappointed that the Government has gone ahead with this damaging cut. Yet it is significant there has now been some recognition that low quality shared accommodation is totally inappropriate for people trying to put their lives back together after homelessness.

Penalty to the poorest

In June 2010, the Government announced plans for a 10 per cent cut in housing benefit for anyone on Jobseekers' Allowance for more than a year. This brutal cut announced in the emergency budget would have hit single homeless people the hardest because they would not be entitled to any other income support from the state - other than their Jobseeker's Allowance cash. Forced to make up the shortfall in their Housing Benefit with a substantial proportion of their dole money, the amount left for food, clothing and energy would rapidly decrease.  

Crisis, along with other homelessness organisations, tirelessly warned the Government against the cut to stop the poor from being punished with unfair sanctions.

 Government drops the penalty

In February 2011, Ian Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, announced the Government would drop this cut from the Welfare Reform Bill. Duncan Smith told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "You won't see this in the bill for one very good reason - all of those people were going to move on to the work programme anyway, so they would be having intensive help to get them back to work."

This announcement was an important concession and welcomed by Crisis after much hard campaigning.

A private matter? 

With the recession biting, more tenants were finding themselves suddenly made homeless - not because they had failed to pay the rent, but because their landlord's property had been repossessed.

A legal hole meant they had no rights before the law and could be chucked out with no notice. Crisis launched A private matter in March 2009, a campaign to make sure private tenants could be given decent notice by the court, to give them time to find other accommodation. Our Crisis e-campaigners were key in alerting MPs to the problem and more than 120 MPs signed a motion calling for change.

Campaign success as law passed in the nick of time

In December 2009 the campaign made a great stride when Brian Iddon MP said he would use a special parliamentary procedure to make this protection law. Once again Crisis e-campaigners stepped in to encourage their MPs to support it.

We were thrilled when the law passed just in the nick of time before the general election campaign started in April 2010. This victory marked the successful end to the campaign, with an estimated 324,000 tenants at risk getting the protection they needed.

 

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