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The Exempt Accommodation Sector in Birmingham

University of Birmingham
Thursday 9 November 2017 (16:15-17:45)

Places may be booked by emailing Helen Harris

The Exempt Accommodation Sector in Birmingham- what is it, who lives there and how can they be engaged in its improvement?

Speaker: Thea Raisbeck, HCRG Honorary Research Associate


Birmingham has an unusually high concentration of private sector houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) operating under the 'exempt' provisions of Housing Benefit and, latterly, Universal Credit regulations. This accommodation is 'direct access', transitional in nature, and largely occupied by single homeless people; many with multiple or complex needs. The homeless charity Crisis, alongside local partners, have identified a significant number of issues with this type of provision, including an absence of agreed or enforceable standards; varying and sometimes detrimental levels of support and supervision; the risk of entrenchment and the absence of resident choice and control.

Residents and landlords of this type of, largely non-commissioned, accommodation are a hidden, and thus vastly under-researched, group. Qualitative and peer-led research and capacity-building is required in order to embed and promote good practice, and to ensure referral pathways and avenues of support and redress cohere with, and are tailored by, resident experience and knowledge. Such work will form the core of an ongoing collaborative, cross-sector response to 'exempt' accommodation, which will aid and inform the transition to a devolved funding regime for supported housing, planned for implementation in April 2019.

This seminar will examine the background, rationale and work-streams of this 'exempt' accommodation project in detail and make the case for its wider relevance to research and policy issues around shared living for homeless and other vulnerable groups.


Thea is a housing specialist for the national homeless charity, Crisis, and has over ten years' experience working within Third Sector housing and homelessness projects.

She has a BA (English) and an MA (Social Policy) from the University of Birmingham and is currently an Honorary Research Associate within the Housing and Communities Research Group. Thea combines frontline and practitioner experience with her research and campaigning interests and believes strongly that those adversely affected by social policies must be involved in any attempts to reform or improve them. She is currently working on a collaborative, cross-sector project to address the problems inherent to supported 'exempt' accommodation within Birmingham.

Thea is also a trustee for a charity supporting women and girls at risk of sexual exploitation and is involved in various campaigning and activist groups, with particular interests in domestic abuse, homelessness, social housing and refugee and migrant rights.  


4.15 Introduction and Welcome: David Mullins 

4.20 Presentation: Thea Raisbeck 

5.00 Questions and Discussion 

5.45 Seminar Concludes, networking continues in Staff House Bar

 This Housing and Communities Research Network seminar is free and all are welcome to attend.

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