My intervention to the Minister at the Opposition Day debate on Non-commissioned Exempt Accommodation

Rt Hon Sir John Redwood MP (Wokingham) (Con): Has the Minister made sure that all future contracts are properly set up and policed at the beginning, so that the Government know what they are buying?

Eddie Hughes (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government): My right hon. Friend makes an interesting point, but we leave those decisions to councils that are commissioning locally. I guess it is up to us to try to ensure appropriate standards against which such accommodation is measured and then to give them the necessary powers to enforce that. Personally, I think that councils already have a considerable number of powers. I am not disagreeing with Opposition Members about what powers are required; I am just saying that I would like to see the existing powers used to the absolute max before we necessarily go reaching for others. If people feel they do not have the necessary powers, I would consider it not inappropriate for the Government to legislate, but we need to consider that carefully.

We are committed to finding the right approach to this issue, and we invested £5 million in a number of pilots in recent months to support the worst-affected areas, including Birmingham, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Bristol and Hull. Through the injection of those funds, we have been working with local authorities to test approaches to improving the quality of this type of accommodation. We chose these specific areas partly because of the existing commitment to tackle these issues, and I pay tribute to the local authorities, which have worked collegiately and collaboratively with us during the pilots.

To take Bristol as an example, it has been conducting thorough assessments of new schemes and providers for some time. The council was able to use its funding to complete its work in summer last year. Meanwhile, Hull’s supported accommodation review team was implemented in 2019, and the council has already shown a strong commitment to making the changes needed to solve the problems besetting exempt accommodation. Through the pilot, it was able to fund a large part of its programme and to take its approach to that programme one step further. As the House would expect, we know that the need stretches beyond these pilot areas and that local authorities in other parts of the country want to invest in tackling these problems, too.


  1. formula57
    February 24, 2022

    Your question goes to the heart of present concerns.

    The Minister’s faith in the prowess of local authorities catching unscrupulous landlords exploiting the system is unsupported by too many examples of same.

    Mr. Hughes does though contrast with a good many of his governmental colleagues by sounding sincere in his wish to do good.

  2. The Prangwizard
    February 24, 2022

    Department for Levelling Up………

    A department to impliment a meaningless slogan. Typical of the Government of Nonsense.

    Not just nonsense but incapable of commonsense and courage and risk. Good at lying down which of course includes its loyal party supporters who will sacrifice our sovereignty and identity provided the Tory party survives.

    1. J Bush
      February 25, 2022

      Reminds me of the Ministry of Silly Walks, which begs the question, are TPTB looking to take over where Monty Python left off?

    2. DavidJ
      February 26, 2022


  3. Sea_Warrior
    February 24, 2022

    I’m liking what I’m hearing from Nadhim Zahawi right now. Perhaps we could comment on it in the near future?

  4. Iago
    February 24, 2022

    About thirty-six hours ago Biden was asked by a reporter, “Do you think you may have underestimated Putin?”. The following is an accurate description of what then happened. ‘Biden first continued to stare in the general direction of the question, a slight smirk on his face, expression absolutely unchanged from what it had been before the question was asked. A few seconds later he turned his head to face the camera and, after a few more seconds, grinned sardonically. A few seconds later, he began picking his teeth with his thumbnail, and then grins a bit vacantly before the video mercifully runs out.’
    So, who is running the US administration? (and who is running ours) Our foreign policy appears to be determined by whoever they are and we have a dog’s tail of a prime minister, a cynosure. We are, therefore, in danger.

    1. Fedupsoutherner
      February 24, 2022

      Iago. We sre therefore in danger. Too bloody right with the idiots we have in charge right now. Covid all is forgiven.

  5. The Prangwizard
    February 24, 2022

    Dear Mr Prime Minister,

    Do you think your total priority to build and expand wind production of electricity, the prevention of land based production of gas and oil and your net-zero obsession, the destruction of our home owned manufacturing, the reduction of our armed forces meaning also we cannot defend our maritime trade, will place us in a confident position to defend ourselves against present and future Russian aggression and be a deterrent to such behaviour?

    1. Fedupsoutherner
      February 24, 2022

      Prang. Fat chance.

      1. DavidJ
        February 26, 2022


  6. Sharon
    February 24, 2022

    “ makes an interesting point, but we leave those decisions to councils that are commissioning locally. I guess it is up to us to try to ensure appropriate standards against which such accommodation is measured and then to give them the necessary powers to enforce that. ”

    So he doesn’t know! And it hadn’t occurred to him to check!

    And what exactly is “non-commissioned exempt housing?” I’ve heard of social housing, local authority housing , but this is new to me.

    1. alan jutson
      February 25, 2022

      Likewise Sharon, I have no idea what sort of accommodation this is, probably something existing, renamed because the original title offended someone.
      Thus unable to comment.

      1. Nottingham Lad Himself
        February 25, 2022

        You could be right in your supposition.

        Exempt accommodation is shared housing that is not funded or commissioned by local authority or social care funding. It is often used as accommodation for people with very few other housing options, such as prison leavers, rough sleepers, refugees and migrants, and those experiencing substance abuse issues.

        There is also a small element of care, support and supervision provided to claimants, which means it is exempt from Local Housing Allowance (LHA) caps, hence the use of the term ‘exempt’.

        These exemptions enable organisations providing this type of housing to charge staggeringly high rates, when compared with general LHA rates, to claimants living in their properties.

        For example, a study by Spring Housing Association and charity Commonweal Housing in 2019 found that some providers were charging as much as £200 per week in Birmingham, despite the LHA cap for shared accommodation being just £57.

        You can see what is likely to be happening, then, private sector and all that.

  7. DavidJ
    February 26, 2022

    “we leave those decisions to councils”
    Are councils informed and capable of making such decisions? I seriously doubt it; they are more likely to use them as an opportunity to pursue their “wokeness”.

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