Posted 14 Feb 2020
£600k boost for vulnerable private renters in Greater Manchester
Thousands of vulnerable private renters across Greater Manchester were boosted today as the £600,000 test and learn fund for Fair Housing Futures was announced.
The partnership project, hosted by the housing charity Shelter and funded by the Nationwide Foundation, aims to transform the way the private rented sector works for vulnerable* and low-income tenants across the region. Radical new schemes powered by the fund will help people overcome barriers to finding and keeping a private rented home.
Last year, the scheme called for bids from local organisations to improve private renting, and proposals flooded in. Five successful bids have now been announced, plus innovative plans for two new umbrella projects covering local authorities and landlords.
Shelter’s Roli Barker, project manager for Fair Housing Futures, said: “Every day our Shelter front-line services hear from people in life-changing trouble, as a total lack of social housing pushes more and more people into unstable private rentals. Private rented homes can be hard to secure and impossible to afford. The insecurity and threat of eviction can be hugely disruptive for people, especially families with children or vulnerable people.
“This funding from the Nationwide Foundation is an incredible opportunity to create a network of local projects that gets right to the heart of the issues that can hurt vulnerable private renters every day. We want to leave a legacy of practical solutions, that make access to housing not only easier, but fairer.
The Fair Housing Futures project has already mapped out how sky-high rents and poor conditions across Greater Manchester leave many vulnerable renters struggling to survive in what Shelter describes as a “broken” private rented system.
This research** has helped the project to allocate funding to organisations in Greater Manchester for the next two years, as they work to test and develop successful ideas that could be rolled out further, both locally and nationally.
In addition to the five main projects, Fair Housing Futures is also exploring how they can support landlords with a collaborative approach to the ideas they submitted.
And part of the funding will create an umbrella network for local authorities, as ideas are explored city-wide in a bid for the systemic impact the project demands.
Bridget Young, Programme Manager at the Nationwide Foundation, said: “Fair Housing Futures is a collaborative project, using a local partnership approach to giving funding and support to projects that have ideas to improve life for renters. At the Nationwide Foundation, we have a long-term commitment to making sure everyone has a decent home that they can afford, and we’re thrilled that a part of this work is an attempt to transform the private rented sector in Greater Manchester.
“We look forward to learning from the test and learn fund projects and working with Fair Housing Futures to change things for the better in Greater Manchester and then share that learning further afield.”
Andrew Beeput, Chief Officer at The Bond Board, explained: “The aim of our project is to reduce the reluctance to rent to tenants on benefits that some landlords still have, so that more people can access housing in a system that works better for tenants, letting agents and landlords.
“Housing benefit changes have left many private landlords feeling isolated and confused, often becoming more reluctant to rent to low-income families, who continue to struggle in desperate housing need.
“The role of our new Navigators will help support and train landlords and letting agents to develop their skills and knowledge, so we can increase opportunity for both landlords and tenants.
“And our targeted outreach work will help more tenants on low incomes to find and keep a home and to build better relationships with their landlords. Through the Nationwide Foundation funding we believe we can bring together all the players in the private rented sector, to leave a legacy of a better, fairer system.”
Notes to Editors
* The project’s working definition of vulnerability is based on the 2018 report Vulnerability amongst Low-Income Households in the Private Rented Sector in England, David Rhodes and Julie Rugg (University of York), which defined those vulnerable in the PRS as households at greater risk of harm for reasons that include, and in some instances combine, economic status and income, age, health and household demographic characteristics. The report considers households to be vulnerable in the PRS if they fall into one of the six vulnerable categories (people with dependent children, long-term illness or disability, the older aged, those in receipt of means-tested and non-means-tested benefits, and recent migrants) and experience at least one of the three measurable harms: not meeting the bedroom standard (i.e. overcrowding), property standards (the quality of properties and the lack of options for lower income households) and After Housing Costs (AHC) poverty (the biggest problem for vulnerable households).
The below awardees are granted a sum by the Fair Housing Futures Partnership Board of £460,690 for projects which will run between 2020 and 2022, with £139,310 remaining for separate initiatives. These bullet points are brief abridgements of the full bids received.
The Bond Board - PRS Navigator £75, 612
Working with Letting Agents in North Greater Manchester, the PRS Navigators will provide outreach work with Letting Agents to prevent homelessness by dealing with welfare benefit queries and reducing rent arrears. Letting Agents will be trained on Universal Credit to reduce resistance to rent to people in receipt of benefits and increase access to housing for low-income households.
Salford City Council – PRS Tenancy Support Officer £100,000
A dedicated officer will support private landlord to address and respond to anti-social behaviours
Wigan Council – Tenant Champion £100,000
Championing Tenant’s Rights is a 2-year project focusing on transforming the private rented sector in Leigh. Through a targeted approach and a new dedicated resource of Tenants Champion, we will work to tackle current concerns regarding poor property and management standards, whilst building strong relationships with tenants and landlords alike and helping to create an engaged, supportive community.
Justlife – Outreach/Landlord Liaison Worker £107,984.50
Project INFORM TO TRANSFORM aims to improve the experiences of tenants living in the 50 ‘hidden’ PRS UTA (properties identified across Greater Manchester, and their landlords, by: distributing informative landlord and tenant packs, providing intensive support and advocacy and increasing their influence via tenants and landlord forums.
ACORN – Training and support programme £100,000
Renters Voice Manchester is a ground-breaking piece of work that will build capacity, confidence and infrastructure so that vulnerable renters in Greater Manchester will have an organisation to speak for and with them for years to come. The project will provide a programme of training and support over two years to develop renters’ groups, particularly in Manchester but with capacity to take on issues across Greater Manchester.
About Shelter - Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness through our advice, support and legal services. We campaign to make sure that, one day, no one will have to turn to us for help. For free and independent advice from Shelter visit: https://england.shelter.org.uk/get_help
About the Nationwide Foundation - As an independent charity, the Nationwide Foundation influences changes to improve circumstances for those people in the UK who most need help. Its vision is for everyone in the UK to have access to a decent home that they can afford, and its strategy seeks to improve the lives of people who are disadvantaged because of their housing circumstances. To do this, it aims to increase the availability of decent affordable homes. The Decent Affordable Homes strategy began in 2013 and the Nationwide Foundation is committed to this strategy until 2026.
Funding for this work, totaling £1.2million, has been given as part of the Nationwide Foundation’s Transforming the Private Rented Sector programme. The Nationwide Foundation has a commitment to transforming the private rented sector so that it provides homes for people in need that are more affordable, secure, accessible and are better quality.
The Nationwide Foundation was established by Nationwide Building Society in 1997 as a fully independent foundation. It is a registered charity (no. 1065552) and a company limited by guarantee in England and Wales (no. 3451979).
About Fair Housing Futures - As the number of people living in the private rented sector is set to increase, Fair Housing Futures wants to ensure that all tenants have access to decent, secure, affordable homes. Over five years, the Fair Housing Futures Partnership Board and the Nationwide Foundation will invest £1.2 million into improving the experience of renting in Greater Manchester for people who need additional financial or social support, and focus on boosting housing policy, practice, and options.
The Fair Housing Futures Board is responsible for the leadership of the project, and distribution of the Test and Learn Grant.
Justlife is in existence primarily to ensure that tenants’ experience of living in unsupported temporary accommodation (UTA) is as short, safe and healthy as possible. Delivering frontline projects in Manchester and Brighton & Hove, supporting people in UTA & their landlords as well as aiming to have a local and national impact through its Research & Policy team.
About Salford City Council
Salford City Council is the local authority of the City of Salford in Greater Manchester. City Mayor Paul Dennett is the directly elected mayor of the city. The values of Pride, Passion, People and Personal Responsibility clearly represent what the council stands for.
About Wigan Council
Wigan Council provide essential services to over 320,000 local residents and as a social landlord own and manage 22,000 homes in the Borough. At the heart of everything we do is The Deal, an agreement between the Council and everyone who lives or works in Wigan to join forces in creating a better Borough. The Deal 2030, formed from the views of thousands of our residents, sets out our plans for the next decade; a key priority within this is ‘A home for all’, our aspiration to ensure that quality, affordable homes, part of safe and connected communities, are available to meet the needs of local residents.
About The Bond Board
The Bond Board is a registered charity that has an impact on homelessness and the well-being of homeless and vulnerable private rented sector households. We provide a range of services that enable vulnerable, homeless households to get housed in the PRS, maintain their new homes and maximise opportunities to achieve a brighter future. Operating since 1993, The Bond Board continuously looks for opportunities to develop innovative, solution focused services for homeless households. At the heart of what we do lies a commitment to actively reach out to the most excluded and disadvantaged.
ACORN is the UK’s only independent community union, with over 2,500 donating members across the UK. Our membership has more than doubled since the start of 2018. We have established branches in seven cities, and new groups established in a further seven towns.