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Furnished lets, broadband and housing benefit

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

Today we find out more about the campaigners telling the social sector it must learn from the PRS, the publication of proposed broadband legislation and an ombudsman warning on housing benefit.

Social sector ‘has lessons to learn’ from PRS

The End Furniture Poverty (EFP) organisation has said that the social housing sector has lessons to learn from the private-rented sector over the potential for furnished tenancies.

While furnished tenancies (FTs) are commonplace in PRS, they are rarely found in social housing, and EFP wants to find out why through a major research exercise exploring the attitudes of both tenants and landlords.

The first part of their research project is a mapping exercise to establish the extent to which furnished tenancies are provided throughout the country – with an online survey now available.

A second stage sees in-depth interviews with a variety of housing professionals to better understand their attitudes toward furnished tenancies.

EFP also plans several focus groups with social housing tenants to ensure all viewpoints are included.

Reinforcing the research is the step-by-step Furnished Tenancy Guide: How to set up a sustainable FT scheme, outlining the benefits of FT schemes to landlords and tenants and including advice on funding, service charges, and what furniture to include.

The End Furniture Poverty campaign is part of FRC Group, a group of registered charities and social businesses based in Liverpool, operating nationally.

The online survey is available to housing professionals at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/J3KRXZN. 

Broadband legislation published

The Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill, which seeks to make it that easier for telecoms companies to install broadband infrastructure in blocks of flats, has now been published and can be accessed here.

The explanatory notes to go with the Bill can be accessed here.

Ombudsman warning over housing benefit problems

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has published a report highlighting the “serious problems” people face when authorities get things wrong with housing benefit payments.

It warns that families are facing the very real prospect of becoming homeless because of the way some authorities are dealing with appeals against housing benefit claims.

It said: “Despite being gradually replaced by Universal Credit, housing benefit is still paid to some 3.6million of England’s poorest and most vulnerable people who rely on it to help with living costs. When councils get things wrong this only adds to the pressure these families face.

“The Ombudsman’s report looks at the lessons local authorities can learn from the cases it has investigated. In some situations, poor practices have led to confusion and uncertainty while in more extreme cases – including in a report issued this week – families have become homeless.”

Problems discussed in the Ombudsman’s report include councils preventing families from challenging decisions about their housing benefit entitlement, or not telling them about their right to appeal, and councils trying to recover overpaid money before appeals have even been considered.

It calls for councils to be able to identify valid appeals against overpayments, including circumstances where they make recovery from landlord.

The full report can be accessed here.

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.

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