A newspaper probe has discovered that sow-called exempt accommodation - often for the most vulnerable tenants - has received a Hugh £132m in public funding since 2018.
Much of this has gone to what The Independent and pressure group openDemocracy call “sub0-standard landlords.”
Exempt accommodation units exist for those with nowhere else to go, and typically are used by rough sleepers, homeless people with mental health issues and victims of domestic violence.
But the probe has discovered that much of the funding has gone to landlords and units that have been criticised by regulators.
Across the UK, the number of ‘exempt’ households rose by two thirds in the five years to 2021, with nearly 157,000 homes now controlled by the council-funded providers.
As an example of the practices in the sector, The Independent and openDemocracy say: “Pivotal Housing Association, for instance, has received more than £1m of housing benefit for exempt accommodation since 2019. But it has paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to private firms linked to its founders, husband and wife Denis and Fiona Dixon.
“This includes almost £226,000 of ‘costs’ paid to a company called Pivotal Support Group Ltd in the year ending March 2021. That firm, in turn, is owned by Pivotal Group Holdings, of which Denis Dixon is the co-owner.
“Another firm that Dixon co-owns – Charles Terence Estates – was paid more than £400,000 by Pivotal Housing Association for ‘rentals’. The firm has paid out almost £13m in dividends since 2018, according to the company’s accounts.”
Responding to the investigation by openDemocracy and The Independent, a government spokesperson says: “It is appalling that rogue landlords are exploiting the supported housing system to profit from housing vulnerable people who need help to live independently.
”That’s why we recently announced our intention to bring forward new laws as soon as possible to crack down on rogue landlords, protect vulnerable residents and give councils stronger powers to intervene.”
You can see the complete investigation report here.