Press release

DWP Research Report No. 714 ‘Exempt and supported accommodation’

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New research published today by the Department for Work and Pensions investigates ‘exempt’ and supported accommodation.

New research published today by the Department for Work and Pensions investigates ‘exempt’ and supported accommodation.  Benefit expenditure for many local authorities has increased substantially over recent years on supported housing exempt from private sector rent restrictions. The research aimed to assess the extent and cost of this ‘exempt accommodation within local authorities and to identify the underlying reasons for the changes.

The main findings include:

  • Different claimant groups have different needs in terms of time for which they require supported housing. The types and levels of support also differ; they can range from two carers to one individual (24 hour permanent assistance) to low level support on a temporary basis (for vulnerable young people).
  • It is estimated that there are around 130,000 claimants in registered social landlord accommodation and a further 40,000 in other accommodation (although there is some uncertainty around these figures).
  • The cost of non-registered social landlord ‘exempt accommodation’ claims is estimated at between £70m and £130m above rent officer determinations (there is considerable uncertainty around these figures). The average additional housing costs appear to have increased by 85 per cent from 2003/04 to 2009/10.
  • The lack of effective rent restriction by most local authorities reflects the belief that there is no basis to restrict even where rents are considered high, generally because there is no suitable alternative accommodation available for a meaningful rental comparison.
  • The findings support anecdotal evidence that there has been an increase in both the cost and the number of claims from those in ‘exempt accommodation’.
  • While the regulations are straightforward their interpretation has become increasingly complex, difficult to administer and lead to significant uncertainty.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The research is based on findings from fieldwork at 21 local authorities, an expert workshop and interviews with accommodation providers and other stakeholders.
  2. This report was written by Michelle Boath, Eleanor Baker and Helen Wilkinson of Risk Solutions.