Two exempt hosting providers that once ranked among the biggest in the country have been officially delisted by the English regulator.
New Roots and Prospect Housing were two of the biggest exempt accommodation providers in Birmingham (Picture: Getty)
Regulator Officially Cancels Registration of Non-Compliant Exempt Hosting Providers #ukhousing
New Roots and Prospect Housing have now been officially removed from the social housing regulator’s (RSH) list of social housing providers after the two organizations indicated last year that they were taking steps to withdraw from the sector.
Prospect will now disband by spring, while New Roots will continue to operate as a charity.
Both were among the largest providers of exempt housing in Birmingham, a controversial form of supported housing which has raised concerns about the conditions of properties and the level of support given.
Prospect at one point managed nearly 2,000 exempt accommodation beds and New Roots well over 1,000 in 206 properties.
Exempt housing is often used as a means of housing those who have very few other options, such as those released from prison, the homeless, refugees and migrants, and those with substance abuse issues.
Because these landlords provide loosely defined care and support services, their tenants may be exempt from housing benefit caps and associations may charge much higher rents than ordinary landlords. Birmingham has become the hotspot for this type of accommodation, with the number of applicants rising from 3,679 in 2014 to 22,000 last year.
Last year, of the seven largest providers, including New Roots and Prospect, were all deemed non-compliant by the regulator.
Prospect Housing announced that it would close as a housing association and begin the process of solvent closure in February last year. At the time, he admitted the reason for this was that he felt he would not be able to provide the level of hosting and support that we and the regulator expect, while being financially viable and compliant with long term “.
It came after a management overhaul after the provider was found to be non-compliant initially in May 2020 after the regulator identified a “serious regulatory issue”.
The decision came after the regulator awarded it a G4 for governance, the lowest rating a provider can achieve, after two serious backup incidents.
Following the announcement, the provider terminated all of its leases and underwent a transfer of its tenants to new providers and properties, as well as staff to new roles. It will now officially disband as a company this spring.
Victoria McDermott, Managing Director of Prospect, said: “Our legacy continues in the form of our evidence-based narrative of our history and our learnings, including details and a Freedom of Information request that exposes the fragility of the model and the lessons that can be learned from Prospect’s experience.
“While there are many positive and effective service providers who provide much needed support to vulnerable people, there are others operating in this space who provide poor quality housing and services; do not comply with regulatory standards; with risks to residents, communities and public finances.
“Our enduring hope is that this issue gets the resolution that residents so deserve.”
New Roots announced last June that it would also exit the exempt sector altogether, calling the lease system it operates on “inherently dangerous”.
It also came after a management overhaul following a non-compliant rating by the regulator in February 2020. At the time, the regulator identified “inherent conflicts of interest” and “significant weaknesses in its planning framework activities”.
Inside Housing revealed last year that the Charity Commission was investigating the provider over possible financial and governance issues within the charity.
Regarding the opt-out, a statement from New Roots to Inside Housing said: “The Board had made the decision in June 2020 to opt out of the provision to operate temporarily exempt housing and request voluntary opt-out as than housing association.
“This decision concerned our lease and our disposition in direct management.
“We have completed the downgrading process and have relocated all of our tenants.
“New Roots will continue to be a charitable organization and will set strategic goals consistent with our charitable goals.”