UK “social” landlords and the captive customer tenant

The UK “social” landlord is as much the tenant enemy as the stereotyped “nasty” private landlord. What was once the undoubted Best Value rented housing has changed it four Cs dramatically …

4candbull

I am giving away my age by remembering the four Cs of Best Value above when this cliched yet still largely valid diagram was all over every aspect of the public sector and the UK housing sector still likes to see itself as the left-hand part as Comparing, Consulting, Competing and Challenging.  Yet the unfortunate reality is today the four Cs of social (sic) housing are Cahoots, Connivance, Condoning and Complicity with the right wing government housing agenda.

The provision of rented housing by councils and housing associations has moved from charitable to a commercial focus and tenants are customers and captive ones at that: the tenants are being shafted like the captive customers they are akin to those customers paying through the nose for an inferior product at a motorway service station.

The council tenant, whether working or not has had imposed rent increases that average 57% more than the private tenant (31.6% to 19.8%) and increases of four times benefit inflation (8.3%), three times wage inflation (10.8%) and double prices inflation (16.6%) since 2010.

The last two years have also seen HA repairs spend fall by 14% and then by 11% to add to their captive customer misery of rampant excessive rent increases with significant service reductions from their social (sic) landlords who have been acting more like feudal ones.

Yet the biggest crime the council and housing association landlords have committed is the collusion with the Tory governments and failure to challenge their policies that seek to destroy what we used to call council housing and what was and is a central pillar of the 1948 Welfare State without which all the other health, education and employment pillars collapse.

Collusion with the Tories on the word “affordable” so that council landlords can relet existing housing at 57% more on the Monday after the tenant leaves and the HA landlord increases average 44% for the same con trick.  Over 102,000 such properties had been “converted” from social rent to affordable rent by HAs alone with this policy that actively incentivizes evicting the current social tenant.  No wonder they are so much in cahoots with the Tory snake oil salesmen who decide housing policy.

A complete and utter lack of challenge to the so-called “welfare reform” agenda that has see tenants have their housing benefit savaged with the bedroom tax and the overall benefit cap – and the latter combines as the minor player with the excessive rent increases to see an ever increasing NO DSS allocation policy being operated by housing association and council landlords!!  Yet, of course, these feudal money grabbing social (sic) landlords still shout from their rooftops that they are social!

I suspect the overwhelming majority of the public are unaware that council and housing association landlords can refuse to house anyone they like such is the public ignorance brought about by council and HA landlords constantly playing up and trading upon their claimed social purpose – an ethereal concept that means bugger all and does see LA and HA landlords refusing to house the benefit household and the low-paid households as a 2017 research report here confirms what I said was inevitable back in 2013 and 2014 that social (sic) landlords would have to refuse the most financially marginalised tenant and primarily due to excessive inflation-busting rent increases that are circa 70% of the reason while HB cuts are just 30%.

Council and HA landlords have simply adopted the position of pay your rent or go and also refuse to accommodate those who fail to pass their ever more stringent affordability tests.  How much rent can we sweat from our assets has become the norm for these allegedly social landlords and, note well, average rents still increased as official figures show despite an imposed 1% cut to net rent levels from 2016 and which simply saw these landlords increase existing or invent new service charges – that were and are outwith this 1% imposed cut  to sate their money grabbing want and need to financially squeeze the vulnerable social tenant, their captive customer.

Perhaps one day the 4.8 million social housing properties that contain over 10 million men, women and children will say enough is enough, after all they contain around six million adult voters and instead of seeing themselves as powerless they would realise that if they organised into one collective social tenant lobby that they would be the strongest, most powerful political lobby the UK has ever seen and they could hold any government and all council and housing association landlords to ransom … as they bloody well should!

 

 

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Tories rough sleeper strategy? A sick joke and superficial claptrap

Today the news agenda is lead by the Tories policy to end rough sleeping by 2027 and a vague overview has been released to accompany the £100 million funding … that is over a ten-year period and so equates to £100 million per year or in government funding terms chickenfeed from the petty cash budget.

Below is an excerpt from the vague announcement that aptly illustrates:

rs 1

One of the funding streams is the above £50 million over ten years and £5 million per year to pay for move-on from homeless hostels and refuges.  Do the maths!

There are more than 40,000 people in UK homeless hostels and refuges at any one time and if you cant move them on to other accommodation then those sleeping rough have nowhere to move to from the streets.  The rationale and link to sleeping rough is there.

IF the average length of stay at a hostel or refuge is 4 months (which is a good ballpark figure) then there are 120,000 per year who need to be moved on from hostels and refuges.

So divide this £5 million per year funding by the 120,000 cases per year and you get the princely sum of funding of £41.66 per move on case!

Whoopee! That is really going to help isnt it!!

£41.66 funding per case – Reader, I rest my case!!

 

Supported Housing in crisis.Vulnerable severely let down by perverse £ system

Yesterday the Tories caved in and abandoned their plans to use Universal Credit to pay for the costs in supported housing. They backed down some 7 years after first proposing this (ideological and totally impractical) change in a consultation paper in July 2011 and have now agreed that the legacy Housing Benefit system will cover housing costs in supported housing.

The two main housing lobbies of the National Housing Federation and Chartered Institute of Housing as well as housing trade journals and the usual suspects of housing CEOs et al proclaimed this to be wonderful news to be roundly welcomed and also stated – in huge delusion and error – that this now ensures supported housing services such as refuges are now safe.

Below are actual funding levels from two supported housing services and you can see the significantly different proportion of funding they have and which typifies the very real funding distinction between low level support services such as category 1 sheltered housing and a high support need service whose client group I withhold only for anonymity reasons.

Both services are provided by clients I advise and I also developed the funding figures and their correct proportioning between housing costs (paid by HB) and support costs paid through other funding streams.

support funding %

As you can see the service on the left – the low support level service – now has 91.4% of its overall funding secured and available as a right through the Housing Benefit Regulations.  The decision yesterday is therefore great news (and not before time!)

Yet as you can also see the service on the right – a high support level service – now has just 23.2% of its overall funding secures and available by right.  Thus this announcement and U-turn by the government gives no cause to pop the champagne corks!

Note too that the above two services are not outliers and some supported housing services I know have more than 95% of their overall funding through HB while one has as little as 18%.

The vast majority of services that comes under the supported housing umbrella term are sheltered housing and the vast majority of that is what is known as category 1 sheltered.  This has very negligible support that equates to less than 30 minutes per resident per week and falls into the lowest decile of the only low support definition ever stated in HB Regulations which is anything up to 5 hours per person per week of support. (5 – 21 hours is medium and over 21 hours pppw is high support according to a year 2000 HB circular.)

As such the vast majority of supported housing units are category 1 sheltered who have negligible support costs such as the 8.6% in the example above figures that are from 2005 when the average sheltered housing support charge was £12 per person per week. Because of this extremely low level of support the vast majority of the overall funding for Cat 1 sheltered housing is via HB (the 91.4% illustrated) and why the NHF and CIH housing lobbies are delighted.

It also means the vast majority of buildings where supported housing takes place is also Cat 1 sheltered and owned by councils and housing associations.  So, if the support services lose funding the Social Rented Sector landlords can easily repurpose those buildings into general needs flats or other general needs provision.

Yet the exact opposite happens when say a domestic abuse refuge operates out of a SRS owned property which is the norm.  If their support funding goes then that service is gone as a typical funding element in refuges would be 66% HB funding and 34% support funding and no service can survive with a 34% cut to funding.  Back in 2011 when the government first sought to alter the funding for supported housing their first proposal to limit it to LHA only, LHA + £20 or LHA + £40 per week saw me start blogging and actual figures for refuges I advised would have seen a 24% – 65% overall funding cut and inevitable closure for these refuges.

What you can rightly deduce from all of the above is that supported housing services are highly diverse in their funding structures and as such you should also deduce that the decision yesterday to maintain HB as the funding stream for housing costs in supporting housing ONLY benefits low level supported housing and it does not benefit high support or even medium support level supported housing services.

What can also be correctly deduced is that the revenue funding system for supported housing actually works against the vulnerable clients who have medium or high level needs … and that the system is perverse and failing and failing ever more quickly too because it incentivises low level support services and strongly disincentivises medium and high level support services both existing and future ones.

Across the UK there are hundreds of thousands of vulnerable supported housing residents with long term support needs in, for example, learning, mental, physical and sensory disability fields and other allegedly homogeneous client groups who all have medium to high support needs.  Their weekly support costs can be often over £250 per person per week or twenty times the support cost of the typical Cat 1 sheltered tenant.  These may seem high but they are not as they prevent the same individual only have the very disempowering registered care option forced on them that can easily cost well over £1000 per person per week and fall on local government budgets as mandated costs.

The past decade, ever since the last Labour government announced that support funding (SP) would have the ring fence removed has – ever so coincidentally!!! – seen a great deal of funding cuts and closure of such services and, surprise, surprise, the universally accepted crisis of social care the UK now has that even saw central government allow local government an extra 2% council tax precept increases to pay for the crisis in adult social care.

I could say so much more but the supported housing system in the UK is broken, it is perverse and it is rapidly failing and needs to move away from its perverse funding incentives that lead to only those with low level support need being housed and supported.

Each year more and more higher cost is deferred to a future year and each year a higher percentage of that higher deferred cost moves to inescapable local authority cost as individuals denied support or only having low level support for medium and high level need have to move into the residential care sector – a bit like extending your credit card limits more and more and year on year without any regard to how you will pay the ever increasing debt back.

Just as we have seen recently with the extra 2% increase in everyones council tax to pay for increasingly necessary additional adult care, we will soon see 3% and 4% and then 5% council tax increases to pay for the exact same thing … so if you were in any doubt that the supported housing system is broken and urgently needs addressing you can no longer be.

Note too that none of the above takes into account that for the past 7 years while the government has dithered over the funding of supported housing next to no new supported housing has been built and provision has also decreased significantly with one example being around 5,000 fewer single homeless hostel spaces across England alone and you wonder where all the rough sleepers have come from?!  There are also far fewer refuge spaces and domestic abuse has increased sharply.

Did you also know that the Family Resource Survey – a very key independent study used for decades by all governments deciding social welfare policy – revealed a surprising 18% and 22% increase in the number of households with mental health and disability problems … and yes of course supported housing provision for those two vulnerable groups has also gone down too!

Those few examples are barely scratching the surface of the UKs increased need and demand for supported housing services that have all seen a fall in supported housing provision over the past seven years while this government has dithered and held onto its ideologically driven back of a fag packet proposed changes to the funding of supported housing.

Supported Housing is undoubtedly in crisis and is a crisis that needs urgent and radical attention as doing nothing … well I will let you finish that sentence reader!!

 

The urgent crisis in Supported Housing. Radical change is needed

The government announced yesterday that Housing Benefit scheme will still pay the rent element funding for Supported Housing services rather than Universal Credit paying it.

The frontispiece is below and the decision and other comments it makes in its 24 pages can be read here (pdf) and I would urge anyone concerned about or interested in supporting vulnerable people to read and which pages 23 and 24 are the most important and say so much.

Here I look at what this announcement does mean and make many detailed comments about the chronically failing UK supported housing system that is in urgent crisis despite the hyperbolic nonsense written by housing people about the actual decision that only benefits landlords and not the supporting housing system per se and most definitely does not benefit the residents in supported housing – the real issue and real people that matter.

I offer no apologies for this long and detailed overview which at times is painful reading and often complex.  Yet that is what supported housing is and reflects its individual nature that cannot ever be reduced to generic sameness.  Its complexity is inherent and why this post was originally titled “Government knows bugger all about Supported Housing” meaning all governments I have seen in 25 years in this niche of a housing sector and yesterdays announcement only hardened my view … Okay, time to get on with it.

 

funding for supported housing response 8 August 2018

What does this mean for Supported Housing?

The most obvious answer to that is to say what it does NOT mean which is that supported housing is now secure with secure funding as a number of UK housing bodies and commentators have been saying in very deluded and highly misleading terms.  Take the typical tweet below as an example:

bullshit IH

This is dangerously misleading from Inside Housing in so many ways and I will use as an example to explain what the government announcement means.

Refuges have been saved from the axe is absolute nonsense and are still at a high level of closure. The main reason is that the government U-turn decision ONLY dealt with the funding of housing cost.  Refuges – like many other supported housing services – have two key funding streams of housing AND support funding and the funding for housing costs or what HB will pay can be less than 50% of the total funding needed to run a domestic abuse refuge.

Hence, the securing of the funding for the housing costs element cannot be said to make refuge funding and survival secure.  It is rank hyperbole and dangerous misleading nonsense for Inside Housing to say this and especially in big bold headlines that also misread and misquote Melanie Rees of the CIH too!

Inside Housing is also caught up in the equally dangerous conclusion that this decision is very positive for supported housing when it is not.  The U-turn decision is very positive for social landlords but that is a very different issue to saying it is positive for vulnerable residents in supported housing or for supported housing providers such as refuges who invariably are small specialist charitable support services who lease the property from a social landlord and that one refuge is 100% of their business.

I use the example of refuges for explanation here and it equally applies to many other supported housing services to vulnerable residents with other support needs.

Support Providers (Refuges as illustrative)

One little known factor is that the 300 or so UK refuges are run by well over 200 small independent charities and the one or two refuges each small charity runs are their entire business.  Women’s Aid is best viewed and without any slight intended as merely a representative lobby for these hundreds of small charities.

Many other supported housing services in for example learning, mental, physical and sensory disability services are the same and they often lease the supported housing building from a housing association or council. When a large part of their necessary overall funding is still at risk, in this case support funding, not only are such services still hugely at risk of survival but if that support funding ceases the entire organisation goes out of business.

I emphasise support funding ceases to describe a particularly offensive trend that has been happening in refuges for many years which is large housing associations have been submitting deliberately low and loss leading tenders in order to take over refuges.  The business logic is large housing associations get the very specific expertise refuge staff members have through the TUPE process and thus bring in that expertise to their organisation at the cheapest cost. This is then used to submit ever more lower than cost tender bids in other locations and so the larger and much more commercially focused HAs develop an ever larger supported housing division.  There are many problems with this process for the provision of support to supported housing residents.

Large and mostly general needs HAs impose uniformity and formality of service operation that they have developed for general needs housing operations.  This severely constrains the support that vulnerable residents actually need so vulnerable residents get a much more inferior support service than they had with the previous small independent provider and even with the exact same staff members delivering that support as these support workers are now constrained from delivering the actual support that they know residents need by the strictures of their new housing association employers.

When the TUPE constraints cease the new HA employer is free to impose new wage and working structures that often sees the very experienced refuge staff teams offered much more inferior wages for continued employment.  The new large HA employer cares not if the experienced staff who have the very necessary refuge specific knowledge leave as the large HA employer at least thinks they now know what this is and then employ a much more generic lower cost lower experienced new manager to replace.  Of course this means the quality of support delivery reduces and often significantly.

The provision of support in supported housing has reduced markedly over the last decade in terms of quality and effectiveness by the above TUPE process and large HA desire to expand their way of working that I stress again was designed for general needs housing operation and not the very different culture of supported housing.  General needs housing is all above bricks and mortar whereas supported housing is, habitually was, and always needs to be about people – person-centred not housing-centred and these two models are chalk and cheese!

All of this TUPE nonsense with its buying-in or specialist expertise on the cheap is facilitated by the unctuous commissioning process that is as superficial as it gets and again reduces quality of service and support to the most vulnerable who reside in supported housing and is often worse than the compulsory competitive tendering regime (CCT) it replaced.

It is just another euphemism for a race to the bottom in terms of cost which is the only thing that matters to local authority commissioners and especially when it comes to discretionary funding which (housing-related) support is – 100% discretionary whether at a refuge, hostel or any other supported housing service.

It means that providers largely tend to want only very low level support services such as the overwhelming majority of sheltered housing is and not the higher support level services of for example a homeless hostel.

The UK supported housing system is dictated by its funding and not by client need and so a service for any vulnerable client group which is 95% funded by HB and 5% support funding is and will be at a much lower risk of closure than a supported housing service with a 50:50 HB to support funding split.

The UK supported housing system is broken, imbalanced and failing and has been failing significantly since at least 2009 when the last Labour government removed the support funding (SP – Supporting People) ring fence and allowed every local authority to use this money for whatever purpose they wanted.  It was failing from April 2003 when the Labour government decided the “commissioning model” with local councils deciding what support service got funding or not was the system.

We need a dramatic and radical set of changes to how the support our most vulnerable people receive is paid for and who delivers that support too.  Support has a huge preventative agenda in two key areas.  Firstly, it empowers the vulnerable individual by promoting independence. Second, and linked, it prevents the vulnerable person being forced to go to very disempowering and hugely more expensive residential care environments.  The current system of UK supported housing only incentivises and prioritises very low level supported housing and means vulnerable people with medium or high level support needs are shafted by its funding system.

The universally acknowledged and current UK social care crisis had been largely created by the non-funding and decommissioning of medium or high level support services by every local authority as they seek short-term savings since the ring fence on SP funding was removed and allowed them to do precisely that. The ring fence removal was an unbelievably idiotic decision by the last Labour government that through its inevitable consequences means the most vulnerable in support terms have been well and truly shafted by this perverse and failing system.

What is equally perverse is that the Audit Commission proved without any doubt whatsoever that every £1 spent of preventative support saved much more than that in many other taxpayer / public sector cost.  An average of £2.80 per £1 invested is the often used figure in low level supported housing yet this varies across each supported client group and for example it is regularly stated and accepted that every £1 invested in domestic abuse support provision saves around £13 in other costs.

This is why having local authorities holding the budget cannot work (outside of putting support on the same statutory funding basis as care and which would work) as every LA has to balance the books on an immediate year by year basis and that stricture prevents any form of discretionary funding like support from working in any practical terms.  The LA commissioning model is a cliff edge system which is binary and reduces to being funded or not and with no appeal available against any decision. The care funding system by contrast is statutory and does have the appeal mechanism and a legal one with a canon of legal precedence over decades that prevents cliff edge (and 100% subjective decisions) being taken by LA commissioners as we also find with discretionary support funding.

The current system is also hugely imbalanced and its housing funding element was written into regulation to specifically exclude the private sector and that needs to change too.

That will be seen as very controversial by those within supported housing and general needs housing and even by those who know me well and the work I have done in 25 years in this field (my SPeye Joe blogging persona is Joe keeping an eye on SP) yet it needs to happen.

Those who remember the Supporting People programme the great in theory but bloody awful in practice policy as it was often labelled that dictated supported housing from 2000 saw many very good private sector providers of support.  The only case that went to the higher UK courts of the entire SP period was a bloody good support provider called Supportways who were private sector and delivered specialised and high quality housing-related support to mentally-disordered offenders and often straight from institutional release.

The LA (Hampshire) decided they only provided generic low level support (!!!!!!!!!!!) which was the merit basis of the legal case when the facts were the total opposite (and note the first few years of SP up until the first “review” did have some legal protection for the providers.) The LA thinking it had the power to do what the hell it wanted pulled the plug on this £300k pa support service after completing a claimed “review” but then had to spend millions in defending that decision at the High Court in which it was found the “review” was a sham, and then further costs in the Court of Appeal arguing against the remedy the High Court had given which was to go back and do it again properly and the only logical remedy.

Another private sector support service was the dispersed asylum seeker programme in the North West that saw much better quality accommodation, much better quality of support and all at a much cheaper cost was done by private providers and not social landlords. I headed up that service for the LA involved and was also the consultant in the Supportways case so I have personal direct knowledge of them but also I know of a great many privately run support services that are better in terms of quality and cost than many social sector services. I also know of privately run support or asylum services that were frankly dire and rightly lost funding.  I can equally say there are many dire services run by the public sector and by housing associations too: I am merely saying the issue is not a binary one of public good and private bad and, with the right safeguards being in place very good and even better than that services can be operated irrespective of whether the service is the private sector or public sector.

ALL that matters is the service is good and that the most vulnerable in terms of support get the best supported housing.  That is THE most important matter and it follows like night follows day that getting it right first time saves a lot of money as it does in any other field.

In summary, the UK supported housing system needs a rocket up its backside and urgent radical change is needed.  Myths and shibboleths however long held and however forcefully and repeated perpetuated such as private bad, public good have to go and the many hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people who are already in supported housing deserve much better … and so do the many hundreds of thousands who are wallowing in general needs housing and whose support needs are chronically unmet and not even recorded by the chronically inept system we now have.

I make one final comment to say that over the past five years when I have donated much of my time freely to helping social tenants in general needs housing that the level of unmet support need in general needs housing is greater in number than all those who do reside in UK supported housing. For every 1 person in supported housing in the UK there are at least 2 who languish unsupported in general needs social housing who are being neglected and forgotten about.  The real level of housing-related support need is triple what is currently being provided and it is growing year on year as austerity measures really begin to kick in.

We have a major crisis of support need and a supported housing system that is decidedly unfit for purpose and failing by the day and only concerns itself with the immediate fire-fighting that becomes known.  Vulnerable people deserve at least three times more and ten times better than what the UK supported housing sector now delivers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tories finally admit UC is flawed and abandon it …

The Tories today finally admitted they were wrong and abandoned Universal Credit…

Absolutely brilliant news, fanbloodytastic news in fact, but let me finish that opening sentence “The Tories today finally admitted they were wrong and abandoned Universal Credit … for supported housing only.

Simpsons-Mr.-Burns-Excellent

Universal Credit rolls six existing social security benefits into one and one legacy benefit is Housing Benefit. Yet when the ideological policy wonks dreamed up and designed UC they completely forgot that Housing Benefit was paid to residents in supported housing units such as emergency housing (homeless hostels, refuges etc) and to supported living services (housing for those with mental health and disabilities) and for sheltered housing.

All of these services come under the term “supported housing” and the Tories when they designed UC totally and one hundred per cent FORGOT about this and by consequence (a) they are not mentioned in any UC regulations; (b) the Tories realised this AFTER UC was developed, agreed and passed parliamentary scrutiny; and (c) ever since July 2011 when they released a consultation paper on the issue the Tories have proposed fudge after fudge and impractical fudge upon impractical fudge in order to cover up the fact that they were so incompetent in totally forgetting about the payment of housing costs in supported housing.

The announcement today during the summer parliamentary recess is as politically sneaky as it gets but it is finally an admission of incompetence by them and it is, more importantly, the right thing to do.

There is no detail as yet except a vague announcement in the housing press here and there is as I write no formal announcement on any government website and as always the devil will be in the detail.  So, while I am very welcoming indeed to this announcement it has to be a cautious welcome given the lack of detail and the hundreds of supported housing providers who have been my clients for the past 17 years should not be popping the champagne corks just yet.

It does appear that the key funding stream of Housing Benefit has been secured and the chronic financial uncertainty the past 7 years has given ALL supported housing providers and directly because of Tory policy incompetence is over as the Tories have finally admitted to themselves that they were incompetent and chronically negligent in the first place in forgetting about supported housing and its HB funding.

In summary, supported housing providers can feel far more confident about existing and future services they manage across the UK as this can only be a DWP decision in the payment of Housing Benefit and not a housing one and thus effective across Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as England and that is seriously good news. Yet the devil is always in the detail and of course we still have the complex mess of the support funding streams and which still remain as localised housing decisions not central government policy ones … so lots more still to come but for one day at least supported housing providers and the many hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people they house and support can afford a smile.

 

 

 

Social (sic) landlord rents are very revealing

Under the Tories social landlord average rent has increased 28.8% and 4 times the level of working-age benefit increases (8.3%); 3 times wage inflation (10.8%); and double the rate of prices inflation or CPI of 16.6%.

So how come council and housing association rent increases under the Tories receive so little attention and comment?

Chart 1 – Inflation rates April 2010 to March 2017

inflation rates 20102017

Some indeed many in housing wrongly suggest that this is not a problem as Housing Benefit increases correspond to rent increases thus there is no impact for the 68% of social housing tenants who receive HB.  Yet that is a fallacy as average HB has increased by 21.5% yet average rent by 28.8%.  Or in simple terms HB has increased by £3 for every £4 per week that rent increased as the official figures reveal.

Table 1 – Actual rent and HB figures 

rent and hb srs 2010 to 2017

As these official figures from EHS and SHBE clearly show Housing Benefit increases have failed to keep up with council and housing association rent increases and HB paid 92% of rent in 2010 but has fallen to less than 85% by 2017.

In monetary terms these rent top ups extrapolate to the average tenant:

  • Paying a £314 yearly top up in council housing in 2010 becoming £778 pa in 2017
  • Paying a £334 yearly top up in HA housing in 2010 becoming £597 pa in 2017

And paying these massive rent top-ups from much less income whether they are in work or not as benefit and wage inflation were way below these rent increases all means the average social tenant has had greater poverty and greater homelessness imposed on them and directly by the policies of the so-called social landlords.

The media regularly and habitually blames the greed of the private landlord and often with much justification, yet in the same time period average private rent levels increased by 19.8% while the average social (sic) landlord rent increases were half as much again at 28.8% … and no commentary or consideration of this ever appears in the housing media, national media, or from the tenant media or even academia!

Similarly, there was no commentary or outrage when in the late afternoon on the day before Good Friday the Tories sneaked out an announcement that from April 2020 that the social rent formula was to revert to the inflation-busting CPI inflation plus one per cent.  The Tories had previously said in written answers in the House of Commons and the House of Lords that the social housing rent formula was going to a consultation exercise and they simply changed their minds!

Yet the real issue with this further rent increase for social tenants is the increased poverty and increased homelessness numbers it will directly create.  Inflation-busting social housing rent rises becomes a systemic and direct cause of increased poverty and increased homelessness.  Some 3.27 million of the 4.8 million UK social tenant households receive Housing Benefit as either they are not in work or they are in low paid employment so as we return to inflation-busting rent levels to which HB does NOT keep pace with, then social tenants will become far more impoverished and produce far more homeless households from (a) existing tenants and (b) from the much higher percentage of the 460,000 new social tenancies each year being refused social housing by councils and housing associations on “grounds of affordability” …  which is the latest euphemism for the NO DSS allocation policies that social (sic) landlords now operate.

This NO DSS policy that is now habitually operated by council and housing association  landlords also gets no public scrutiny either despite the Chartered Institute of Housing report of September 2017 revealing this to be rapidly increasing as I predicted as inevitable way back in 2014 in a series of blog posts and presentations at housing conferences including at the CIH in London … to be told this refusal to allocate to those most in housing need and financial hardship would never happen because LA and HA landlords are social and riven with social purpose and social ethos blah, blah, blah!!

You would think that the likes of Shelter and Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation would be banging a big drum over this clear and direct causal link of SRS rent levels to increasing poverty and increasing homelessness as they are as inevitable as night follows day.  Similarly, the likes of the Guardian or Panorama or Dispatches or  even Labour MPs would be making a big noise over this clear demonstrable causal links … but they ALL are as quiet as a church mouse over the issue … and of course they ONLY blame increased homelessness on those nasty private landlords, the easy and very lazy target and who (a) evict in the SAME proportion as “social” landlords as official figures show, and (b) have increased their rents by just 66% of the increase of the “beneficent” social landlords under the Tories!a

It is time to reevaluate the so-called social landlords as the darn pesky facts reveal that council and housing landlords are the antithesis of the social landlords they protest to be!

 

Universal Credit £5bn per year added cost!

Universal Credit costs over five billion pounds more per year than the Tories said it would.

The horror stories we all read about its incompetence, its immorality, its lack of pre-thought and callousness can now be added to with its colossal waste of money.

The National Audit Office has found the admin cost of each UC case is £699 per year. The budgeted admin cost per case was and is £173 per case.

Universal Credit has a per person admin cost of £526 more and the full UC rollout when it happens will apply to ten million persons so the added cost of UC will be £5.26 billion per year.

I can understand why social and national media is focusing on the line that Esther McVey should resign for misleading parliament and I also understand and appreciate that the media is finally coming round to scrap UC rather than ‘stop and fix’ as the horrors of UC as a policy become more widely known.

YET the added, unexpected and additional £5 billion per year cost to administer this dog with fleas policy is THE issue that must surely be the final nail in its coffin.