Kerry McCarthy Labour MP for Bristol East
Last week Labour initiated an Opposition Day debate calling for action to stop unscrupulous landlords setting up so-called “supported housing” with the sole aim of exploiting vulnerable individuals for financial gain, at the taxpayers’ expense. They can claim considerably more in housing benefit from providing this type of housing, at very little cost to themselves. I spoke during the debate to say that all supported housing should be commissioned by local Councils, rather than private providers buying up houses in areas where property prices are relatively low and attracting people to an area because their own local authorities won’t look after them.
I have been campaigning on this issue for some years and introduced a Supported Housing Bill in the last Parliament. As a result the Government set up pilot schemes, looking at existing supported housing provision. It’s frustrating to see that even though the pilots have ended, the Government is unwilling to bring forward regulation. Instead, the Minister is talking about “promoting best practice”. That’s fine for the many decent providers out there, but dodgy landlords aren’t interested in improvements. This approach will do little to solve the problem.