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Policy Watch

An eye on policy changes in Ireland, the UK and beyond

Social Housing Shortage | Rough Sleeping | Housing and Hate Crime in NI | UK Refugee Resettlement Scheme

Right to a Home  |  Thu Dec 03 2020

Solutions to the social housing shortage: Scotland

Scotland raised funding for its Affordable Housing Supply Programme -- which includes social housing, affordable rent and co-ownership -- by two thirds, from £300m to £500m for 2021-22 to help the housing sector recover from the pandemic.

Solutions to the social housing shortage: NI

The Communities Minister here issued a follow-up to her Assembly presentation at the start of the November, in which she outlined fundamental changes to the housing system here that she said would increase social housing supply, target it to areas of high demand and strengthen the Housing Executive in order to help guarantee people's right to a home. She also referred to more support for co-ownership and protections for renters.

Solutions to the social housing shortage: England

The New Economics Forum echoed Shelter, the Affordable Housing Commission and the National Housing Federation in proposing doubling the supply of new social housing this year by tapping into thousands of new affordable homes -- built by housing associations or councils for co-ownership or owner-occupiers, but currently unsold due to Covid uncertainty -- to meet acute unmet need for social housing.

England: concerns for rough sleepers

In the midst of rising calls for a serious commitment to Housing First approach, a Local Government Association report indicated that some councils lack enough safe accommodation to house all rough sleepers in their area over the winter, placing them in the position of having to leave people without shelter or place them in potentially unsafe communal emergency shelters.

Scotland NRPF mitigations

The Scottish government, which has repeatedly urged the Home Office to suspend the No Recourse to Public Funds designation during the pandemic to allow everyone to access housing and other public services, has provided a further £278,000 to organisations supporting people at risk of destitution. This brings the total targeted funding to mitigate against NRPF since the pandemic began to over £550,000. In addition, millions of pounds worth of emergency shelter and discretionary support in Scotland has explicitly been made available to everyone equally, including people with NRPF.

… and England's lack of the same

In England, where rough sleeping levels are reportedly at pre-pandemic levels, Crisis expressed concern that despite the 'Everyone In' policy during the first wave of Covid, people with NRPF are once again being denied shelter.

Hostile environment in England

A breach of equality legislation. in the latest of a series of damning reports into the work of the Home Office, England's Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that the Home Office failed to comply with equality legislation in forming and implementing its hostile environment policies. It drew attention to "a misconception by some officials that immigration was exempt from all equalities legislation" and that clear evidence of the harmful impact of Home Office policy on equality -- particularly on the basis of race -- was ignored. The Home Office must now review and rewrite the policies in light of the public sector equality duty, to ensure that they are not discriminatory and fully comply with legal requirements.

Racist hate crime in NI

The Department of Justice published the report of an independent review into hate crime legislation here. It found that hate crime and discrimination against minorities has been "a persistent and recurrent problem across Northern Ireland for the past two decades". Since 2016, racist hate motivated incidents are more prevalent each year than sectarian motivated incidents, meaning "in practical terms, there is approximately a one in 31 chance of being the victim of a reported racial hate incident compared to an approximately one in 1777 chance of being a victim of a reported sectarian hate incident". Meanwhile the PSNI investigated a hate incident in which racist and sectarian graffiti was painted on walls in North Belfast to deter potential residents from moving there.

UK failure to resume refugee resettlement scheme

Unlike countries like Italy, France and Spain, and despite criticism from religious figures and others, the Home Office has continued to baulk at resuming its Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme for people offered asylum here. UNHCR has warned that globally, the world has hit a new low for refugee resettlements. France and the UK agreed tougher controls including doubled police patrols, radar and drones to discourage Channel crossings.

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