Importing Need?: West Midlands agency referrals into the non-commissioned supported accommodation sub-sector in Birmingham

Tuesday 20 November 2018 (14:00-15:30)

Helen Harris –

Housing and Communities Research Network Seminar Series 6: 2018/19

We are delighted to have had HCRG Honorary Associate Thea Raisbeck present the first of our Series 6 Seminars on her ongoing and important research investigating the supported exempt accommodation sub-sector in Birmingham. 

With an estimated 10,000 units, Birmingham has an unusually high concentration of shared residential units and Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) operating outside of local authority commissioning arrangements and 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.

Thea’s seminar discussed selected findings from her recent research project funded by Birmingham Safeguarding Adults Board, ‘Risk, Safety and Wellbeing in Supported Exempt Accommodation in Birmingham’. This 8-month study drew on interviews with 94 stakeholders involved in the non-commissioned supported ‘exempt’ sub-sector in Birmingham and attempted to address some of the concerns around resident safety and wellbeing, and the prevention of, and response to, risk exhibited by both referring practitioners and accommodation support staff. The project focused on referral routes, assessment practices, management regimes and residents’ lived experience and is the first in-depth investigation into this vast, growing but largely hidden form of accommodation.

The seminar centred around the large volume of referrals into the ‘exempt’ sub-sector by agencies and organisations operating outside of Birmingham; largely but not limited to those within the West Midlands conurbation and including prisons, Probation services and local authority housing and social care departments. The session considered the drivers for this growing influx of vulnerable residents from out of area sources and the potential implications of placing such individuals into a largely unknown and under-regulated sub-sector. It also considered opportunities for greater transparency and co-operation between West Midlands authorities, in light of both the findings from this research and such strategic and policy influences as the Homelessness Reduction Act and the West Midlands Mayoral Homelessness Task Force.


Download the presentation: Thea Raisbeck - Importing Need?: West Midlands agency referrals into the non-commissioned supported accommodation sub-sector in Birmingham

About the speaker

Thea is a housing specialist with over twelve years’ experience working within Third Sector housing, domestic abuse 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 and an Associate of Spring Housing, a small housing charity based in Birmingham. 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 has recently completed a research project commissioned by Birmingham Safeguarding Adults Board focusing on risk, safety and wellbeing within shared, supported housing and is project lead for the ongoing collaborative, cross-sector project seeking to reform the supported 'exempt' accommodation sub-sector within Birmingham.

Thea is also a non-executive director 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.