It is futile to build any new ‘social’ housing … unless its in Kigali !!

The Bank of England monetary policy committee report (May 2022) published a few weeks ago says that the UK has sustained high inflation. Despite a target rate of 2% the BoE projected CPI inflation this September to be 9.9%, then 7.2% in September 2023, then 4.3% in September 2024 before nearing its target rate with 2.1% in September 2025.

The social rented sector is the audience for these figures as the September CPI rate forms the social housing rent rises the following April. The 9.9% CPI projection for September 2022 sees April 2023 rent rises of 10.9% as the rent increase formula is CPI+1%.

Discussion across the social housing sector over whether rents will increase by the full CPI+1% is fraught yet the major issue missed is that CPI inflation according to the Bank of England is sustained over a few years and not a one-off issue. It is neglected as any objective reading of the numeric facts reveals that the social housing model is defunct and the oft-heard cry of just build more social housing is a purposeless and futile myth when it comes to rehousing those in objective housing need.

Notions of SRS landlord boards having discussions over just next years rent increases alone is a fundamentally errant premise and does not reflect the sustained level of inflation or its consequences for social landlords and social tenants. Inflation is NOT a one-off aberrant figure that will quickly fall back to its normal 2% average, it is a sustained high level of inflation over the next few years assuming the Bank of England projections are accurate.

The shorter June MPC overview report (26 pp) has already increased its May projection report (110pp) for this years inflation too and the BoE predicted as recently as October 2021 that CPI inflation would peak this year at 7% and now say that will be 11%.

It is also noteworthy that government purported mitigations to soaring inflation are one-off payments to deal with the ‘cost of living crisis’ yet the soaring inflation is over three years and not a one-off so £650 energy payments which is around £1000 less than the energy cap increase this year are not as yet planned for 2023 or 2024 or 2025 and nobody expects yearly domestic gas and electricity bills to fall back from their projected £2800+ per year this October down to the £1278 average of March 2022 anytime soon, if at all.

Many existing SRS tenants will have housing benefit shortfall and greater rent top-up positions which (a) they cannot afford; and (b) they have to feed the prepayment meter first as 46% of council tenants and the 41% of HA tenants who have them need to keep the lights and the fridge on first, before assessing the misinformed heat or eat narrative! This fact revealed in the English Housing Survey (Annex Table 3.28) is strangely missing from the superficial concern SRS landlords portray they have over the heat or eat debate!

The tenant affordability of the cheapest possible social housing rent levels becomes a seismic and structural issue for social landlords for the next few years. Seismic is warranted as is unprecedented to describe this reality of the affordability crisis in social housing as the numbers reveal yet the national and housing media, as is their want, are focusing just on private rented sector rent affordability in chronic ignorance and/or negligence as to the social rented sector rent affordability catastrophe that is imminent.

In three years time the figures reveal that a woman fleeing domestic abuse with three children will not get a penny in housing benefit (UC Housing Cost Element) due to the overall benefit cap (OBC) policy. No social landlord will rehouse that lone parent 3 child household on benefit. In a years time that same domestic abuse survivor and her three children will get a maximum of £199 per month in housing benefit so wont be rehoused then or even today. The out of control inflation meeting this governments OBC policy means NO DSS will apply to every 2 bed social rent property up and down the country today and the 2 bed and larger sized SRS property accounts for 76% of England’s entire social housing stock that has today become a NO DSS reality and benefit household free zone.

The lesser-spotted social housing – Source: UK Antiquities Museum

So even if social housing boards limit rent increases to half of the 10.9% rent increase next April that some are mooting or if government change the rent increase formula to reflect this then the same NO DSS reality will happen as the social landlord cannot afford the benefit tenant and vice versa. That analogy would also see SRS landlords in England forego some £1.25 billion of income next year so those who are arguing that boards will somehow rediscover their social purpose and impose a CPI minus 5% increase will need to also argue that the SRS are willing to forego this £1.25 billion of increased income just in 2023/24.

I find these arguments to be innumerate delusion. In simplistic overview, the SRS turnover in England is circa £25 billion per year. The 10.9% rent increase in April 23 takes this to £27.73 billion per year which increases to £29.99 billion per year from April 2024 with the 8.2% rent increase the BoE figures are projecting. Social housing rent inflation over the next two years imputing the BoE inflation figures is a 20% rent increase for social housing tenants.

One argument I have heard from SRS professionals is there is no way government will allow the housing benefit budget to increase so much and citing the correct fact (EHS) that 65% of SRS tenants are in receipt of housing benefit. However, the OBC finite limit on overall household benefit which includes housing benefit means this wont happen and could even see an overall reduction in housing benefit expenditure as the domestic abuse example above explains. Hundreds of thousands more SRS tenants will face cuts to their maximum housing benefit each year due to the out-of-control inflation we have and tens if not hundreds of thousands more existing SRS tenants will be evicted due to the arrears to eviction to homeless pathway this creates. That is what the objective numbers say. It means that the core target tenant of social housing is no longer the benefit household of working-age who know become familia non grata to purportedly social landlords of councils and housing associations.

I am far from over-egging the pudding here. This is scary as hell yet not scaremongering and with the assumptions being the Bank of England inflation forecasts are broadly accurate and the Overall Benefit Cap policy remains.

It is time the social rented sector landlords and their boards woke up to the reality of the affordability crisis of social housing rent levels. It is way past time that homeless lobbies and supposed think tanks woke up too and crunched the numbers in a simple ‘what if’ spreadsheet that a 7 year old could do. The “Housing Crisis” term that has been bandied about for a number of years is seen as a crisis of social housing undersupply ONLY and that simply developing more social housing will solve. That is and always has been a classic non sequitur (aka superficial twaddle) when the target client for social housing of those out of work or on low pay – the 65% who now receive housing benefit – will not be able to afford any new social housing so prospective households will be turned away as they fail SRS landlord affordability assessments (aka NO DSS) and existing SRS households in receipt of ever dwindling levels of housing benefit will be evicted into homelessness. These same ‘experts’ are currently focused on ending homelessness or ending rough sleeping and both of these are going to rocket to unprecedented levels as that is what the objective numbers say.

A direct set of questions to Polly Neate, the current chief executive of Shelter (England) and previously the chief executive of Womens Aid Federation of England. You constantly maintain that building more social housing is the key to reducing homelessness yet my example of a women with three children fleeing domestic violence sees the objective numbers say she will not receive a penny in housing benefit (UC-HCE) in 2026 and next year less than £200 per month in housing benefit.

Q1) Please advise how she can ever leave a DVA refuge?

Q2) Please advise how many more women will be refused refuge provision because they can’t move any existing residents out?

Q3) Please advise how many more refuges and refuge rooms England alone needs next year?

Finally, Q4 – Just how the hell will more social housing reduce all forms of homelessness when the DVA or any other homeless cohort cannot afford the cheapest social rent levels around?

That last question goes out to every social housing lobby, every homeless lobby, every DVA lobby, every politician, every think tank, every social housing activist and every member of the public that has a grasp of the basic laws of arithmetic!

The current government policy is do not flee domestic violence and abuse unless you can afford to do so as that is what the overall benefit cap policy manifests. Stay at home and have even more physical, emotional, financial and psychological abuse as you cannot afford to flee from it … even if you could find any refuge rooms available to flee to! Stay at ‘home’ and die is the government policy toward domestic violence and abuse.

Polly Neate has accused me of mansplaining over this issue on Twitter because I report that the refuge and every other homeless resettlement model is now defunct due to the OBC meeting rampant out-of-control and sustained inflation. There is no affordable homeless-escape properties for homeless families to be able to leave refuges or other temporary homeless accommodation. That is what the objective numbers say. The ‘great and the good’ the ‘experts’ and the ‘leaders’ never like to be challenged and held to scrutiny do they?

I could just as easily have singled-out the rent-a-gob politician Jess Phillips who crusades for her own self-advancement on DVA issues yet is strangely silent on the objective realities that women fleeing it now face at the hands of the political party she claims to be in opposition to.

I have just as much personal and professional scorn for the myriad of social rented sector lobbies who launch superficial upon superficial DVA campaigns such as Make A Stand or fart about in talking shops such as the Cathy Come Home group yet whose SRS rent levels mean they will not rehouse DVA families out of affordability and NO DSS.

The social purpose of the social housing model is defunct and unfit for purpose and the country needs a new housing and rehousing vehicle as council and housing association landlords and their purportedly social constructs are no longer viable. It doesn’t need Dominic Raab to remove the Human Rights Act for social (sic) landlords to refuse the claimed right to housing as that purported right has never existed when it comes to housing and rehousing those in objective housing need in England.

Affordability has always won out over alleged altruism in social (sic) housing just as it will with double-digit rent increases being approved by social (sic) landlords next year as they cannot afford to forego any of the £2.7 billion per year increase this will provide to their coffers….

PS I was toying with the idea of renting a stand at the many social housing conferences this year and putting myself in the stocks so I could be pelted by rotten fruit by the social housing ‘experts’ for daring to say that there is no point in building any new social housing which is what the objective numbers say! However, even the many fat cats who do attend such jamborees couldn’t afford the rotting fruit to vent their spleen at my reporting such anathema (aka pesky facts)

PPS I did consult Dominic Raab to see whether his new ‘rights’ legislation would allow a standard SRS tenancy clause of evicting a tenant if they became pregnant would fly and/or whether every social landlord could lawfully employ a modern-day child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but even he rejected the ideas though suggested his colleague Priti Patel was looking into new UK social housing developments and homeless-escape properties in Kigali and I should contact her …

NO DSS? Michael Gove says you have to be sold a Ferrari!?

NO DSS – is the term used to describe when households on social security benefit are refused rented housing because the landlord maintains they cannot afford the rent.

This is not unlawful. This is not discriminatory. NO DSS is simple economic fact and the rented housing equivalent of you or I entering a Ferrari showroom expecting to get one for the price of a Ford.

Last week we had the Michael Gove (expert?) plan for alleged significant changes in rented housing operations but nothing whatsoever has changed or will change about NO DSS and landlords refusing to accommodate those who cannot afford to rent their properties.

Prospective tenants on benefit will be refused rented housing forever and in increasing numbers and no law can ever change that. Any attempt on writing a law that says landlords must rehouse those who cannot afford the rent is as likely as the dealership selling a Ferrari to those who can only afford a second-hand Ford Focus. Yet such is the right-wing outrage that the Daily Telegraph ran an article saying that landlords will be forced to rent to Dole Claimants. This is utter full-throttle tosh.

Today the ‘dole claimant’ of a lone parent with three children who had fled to a refuge can’t afford to leave that refuge as the maximum housing benefit / UC housing cost element she can receive is £332 per month which in April next year will fall to £199 per month in the maximum housing benefit due to the Tories overall benefit cap policy and their allowing inflation to be 10% in September this year.

The average 3 bed social housing property outside of London is £466 per month so the maximum housing benefit today is £134pcm and £1608pa less than the cheapest council and housing association 3 bed rent. Next year the maximum £199 in monthly housing benefit will sit against an average cheapest 3 bed social rent of £517 for a monthly shortfall of £318 and £3816 per year shortfall.

No landlord whether council, housing association or private will allocate a property to such a ‘dole claimant’ out of affordability when they have a £3816 per year shortfall in the maximum housing benefit they get. Nor will they allocate a property to the lone parent two child household the following year when their yearly shortfall will by £588 per year on average and over £2000 per year in some parts of the South East of England region.

NO DSS is simple economics and not the claimed and emotive ‘discrimination’ of right-wing hacks in the Telegraph or the same claim by Shelter who are allegedly not as right-wing but still as incompetently innumerate as the right wing hacks of the Telegraph such as Melissa Lawson.

Propagating the myth that NO DSS is unlawful is the line taken by Shelter for a few years and is a chronic legal fiction. Landlords are free to operate NO DSS, that is refuse to house the benefit tenant or the in-work tenant on grounds of affordability, they are legally not allowed to advertise they operate a blanket NO DSS policy but they can practice it to their hearts content. ALL any landlord has to say is each case is assessed on it individual merits and they operate within the law just as the Ferrari dealership tells the customer who can only afford a 10 year-old Ford Focus to bugger off!

Each and every landlord is free to have as restrictive as possible affordability testing matrix as long as they operate it equally to all potential renters. Will – for example – the £125 per month increase in domestic energy bills by this October mean landlords and letting agents say their proprietary affordability criterion is rent is no more than 25% of total household income rather than 33%? Yes they will and legally they can do this and there is nothing that government can do to legislate this out.

In 2017 a report commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Housing and conducted by Sheffield University revealed that 56% of homeless families nominated to them by local councils were refused with the reason being LETWA, Limited Entitlement To Welfare Assistance, aka NO DSS. Since then inflation interacting with the overall benefit cap policy has got much more severe and so much so that official facts projected that in April next year all 2 bed social housing will be off limits to the benefit households as the maximum housing benefit they can receive makes them NO DSS as Limited Entitlement To Welfare Assistance will apply to the 76% of all English social housing housing that is the 2 bed and larger sized property.

From the CIH / Sheffiels University report 2017

In short, the right-wing narrative asserting that landlords will have to accommodate the ‘dole claimant’ is tosh and nothing more than the right-wing commentators seeking to deflect outrage away from the Conservatives Overall Benefit Cap (OBC) policy that is going to double homelessness and domestic violence and abuse households by April next year.

Stop and think for a minute and do you really believe that as the ‘dole claimant’ will be refused housing by council landlords that the private landlord will be FORCED to rehouse them!!?? Do you believe that ANY government can force ANY seller to sell their product and service at a loss? You would have to be as stupid as the Daily Telegraph property editor Melissa Lawford to believe such crap … and then you would be rushing to your nearest Ferrari dealership wouldn’t you!

Sunak just killed off social housing and doubled homelessness

Rishi Sunak today (a) massively increased homelessness and assured England can never reduce homeless household numbers in the future; and (b) killed off what we call social housing.

The facts prove these seismic issues and there is nothing moot about this opening statement which this paper proves beyond any doubt. Hansard records the critical text of the Chancellor’s speech:

I can reassure the House that next year, subject to the review by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, benefits will be uprated by this September’s consumer prices index

Two weeks ago the Bank of England MPC May Report forecast that the mean CPI rate in September 2022 will be between 9.63% and 10.43% so to keep this illustration simple I will use 10% as the September 22 CPI rate.

Using official benefit and SRS rent data the effect is:

Do the math!

The way the overall benefit cap (OBC) policy works is to deduct OTHER benefit from the CAP limit which leaves a maximum payable in housing benefit. The above two tables show the outcome for the benefit household of 2 adults and 2 children in a 2 bed SRS property at the cheapest social rent level in the NE region (cheapest), the SE region (dearest) and the average of the 8 English regions excluding London.

The tables mean, very simply, that existing benefit households in the SRS will rapidly descend the arrears to eviction to homeless slope due to what we still call NO DSS. All such prospective benefit households seeking SRS properties will be refused due to the same NO DSS.

Homeless households numbers from council and housing association properties will go through the roof as a direct result of the Rishi Sunak statement today and how it works with the OBC policy.

The same will happen in the private rented sector of course, however, what the facts reveal is that every two bed or larger social rent level property in the SRS becomes the NO DSS property – and this is 76% of the English social rented sector housing stock.

Another issue is that the much higher affordable (sic) rent level used in the SRS averages 43% more in rent and means that the lone parent one child household becomes the NO DSS tenant, or in very short, councils and HAs who operate the AR model can no longer allow children to live there.

The working lone parent with one child can become out of work and form the 1p1c benefit household.

NB: From April 2023 the average domestic gas and electricity bill will likely be the £1600 per year and £125 pcm more than it was in March this year yet there will be no one-off £400 ‘bung’ from the Chancellor to mitigate these costs, thus the ability to pay a rent top-up is non-existent and especially when energy costs have to come first for the 46% of council tenants and 41% of HA tenants who are on prepayment meters. [English Housing Survey Annex Table 3.28]

Nick Clegg, the former Lib-Dem leader during the coalition 2010-on government said infamously the Tories are ideologically inclined against social housing as they believe it ‘breeds’ Labour Party voters. Today, Rishi Sunak just resolved that ideological ‘problem’ for the Conservatives.

The surging cheapest rents around also mean that homeless households in all forms of temporary accommodation (dingy hotels, B&Bs, offensive factory / office conversions, hostels and refuges) will spend far longer there as there is dramatically reduced homeless-escape property options due to unaffordability.

One quick point on homelessness.

Imagine a 20 bed hostel or refuge now has an average length of stay of 4 months. It can accommodate 60 residents / year as it has 3 per room/year with the 4 month ALOS. When that ALOS increases to 6 months the yearly capacity is 40 and thus 20 more households have to be refused entry. That’s 20 more rough sleepers per 20 hostel spaces and 20 more domestic violence and abuse households per 20 DVA spaces who are unable to flee DVA (and thus more women will die from DVA!)

On behalf of any and everyone who has ever worked in the homelessness sector I have 4 words …

FUCK YOU RISHI SUNAK!

Why NO DSS is the norm & social (sic) housing is deader than any Dodo (Warning contains facts!)

What we still call social housing will die a quick death within the year from what we still call NO DSS.

A mother and her family seen here living in one room of a Liverpool Terrace slum, Sunday Pictorial Published Picture 28th November 1948. (This is what ‘social housing’ will have to return to as the 1948 Welfare State housing pillar is deader than the Dodo!)

This is not in any way scaremongering. It is what the irrefutable numbers say when we look at the known facts, yet the blasé and flippant attitude of politicians, ‘woke’ activists and the social housing and homeless commentariat to these facts, and the inevitable impact of skyrocketing homelessness is an outrage.

Let’s begin by looking at some known knowns.

  • The Bank of England expect CPI inflation to reach 9.5% in September 2022
  • The SRS rent increase formula for April 23 is (Sept 22) CPI+1% therefore 10.5% increases in council and housing association rents next April.

Let’s throw in some more facts:

  • The benefit household type of 2 adults and 2 children receive this financial year £1218 in OTHER benefit per month which means the maximum housing benefit payable is £449 per month from the £1667 monthly overall benefit cap limit.
  • The OBC policy works by a formula of CAP minus OTHER = MAX HB
  • The average cheapest 2 bed (social rent level) rent is £439 per month. Thus there is £10 per month ‘headroom’ in the OBC policy and no rent top-up needed by the 2 adult 2 child benefit household type this year.
  • Next year, the current £1218 pcm in OTHER benefit (UC std allowance, UC child element and Child Benefit) increase by 9.5% to become £1334pcm. This leaves a maximum housing benefit payable of £333 pcm from the £1667pcm OBC limit.

IF, all social landlords impose the full 10.5% rent increase the same maximum housing benefit of £333pcm sits against an average cheapest 2 bed social rent of £485pcm for (All England excluding London) an average rent top-up by the 2 adult 2 child benefit household needed of £152 each month (£1824pa) just to meet the cheapest rent around.

  • Even if all social landlords choose a zero rent increase in April 2023 this £333 maximum housing benefit sits against an average cheapest social rent level of £439pcm to create an average £106 rent top-up needed each month.

The only logical deduction is the benefit household cannot afford the cheapest social housing and the social landlord cannot afford the benefit household.

Some of the social housing commentariat have been saying that SRS landlords won’t impose the full CPI+1% rent increase next year YET as even a rent freeze will still see a significant unaffordable monthly rent top-up this line of argument cannot hold and is indicative of the blasé attitude that SRS landlords and lobbies and commentators have towards SRS rent affordability. They simply do NOT look at the numeric facts and assume their arguments can hold because they want them to hold.

A rent freeze next year to the cheapest possible social rent level rents still means that tens of thousands of existing SRS tenants will be evicted into homelessness next year and that no new benefit households will be allocated the typically 300k+ yearly available SRS properties.

What flows from the irrefutable numeric data and fact is (a) the existing SRS benefit household will fall speedily down the arrears to eviction to homeless slope; and (b) the benefit household seeking SRS housing will be refused it, aka NO DSS

To add to this now factor in that 46% of council tenants and 41% of housing association tenants have a prepayment meter for gas and electricity (19% in PRS and 3% in owner occupied) and we see that they have no choice but to FIRSTLY pay for gas and electricity BEFORE they can pay any rent top-up needed to keep the roof over their heads. These households still need the lights and the fridge on. The figures are from the authoritative English Housing Survey at annex table 3.28 for prepayment meters in 2019/20.

The illustrated 2 adult 2 child benefit household was paying (slightly more due to prepayment meter higher cost) than the £106 pcm monthly average gas and electricity cost in March this year (£1278 pa) yet by October this year are projected to be paying £234 per month for it and £2800 pa and with some estimates as high as £3286 pa and £274pcm. Even if they reduce their gas and electricity use by 25% they will still be paying £100 per month more for gas and electricity BEFORE they can even contemplate making rent top-up payments. The ‘heat or eat’ narrative does not apply to prepayment meters!

The rent top-up over and above the maximum that the OBC policy allows ranges from £76 per month in the North East to £209 per month in the South East of England region – and these figures are for the social rent level not the so-called affordable rent level which has rent top-ups of £172pcm in the North East to £489pcm in the South East.

[NB: The same occurs in NI, Scotland and Wales and I use England as the average SRS rents charged by region and by LA level within them are more readily available in official figures and for no other reason.]

I cannot see any political wriggle room for the government not to increase social security benefits in April 23 by the 9.5% CPI level that is the minimum predicted by the Bank of England and with April 2022 CPI already standing at 9% the BoE projection appears more of an underestimate. The political brouhaha from increasing benefit by 3.1% in April when the inflation rate was 9% is not going to go away for the government and can any government treat the pensioner ‘grey vote’ this way and get away with it is a huge electoral factor? That is of course speculative but we are even seeing more ‘real’ projections of inflation that (a) sees energy costs more than doubling; (b) food inflation nearer 20% now rather than 9% and especially of household staples such as milk; and (c) articles on 9% headline inflation meaning more like 12% to low income households and more like 6% to high-income households.

Homelessness

Homeless households numbers can only significantly increase when the benefit and even the low-paid households cannot afford the cheapest social housing rents YET we still see the usual suspects aka the ‘homeless experts’ stating we can end rough sleeping and we can end all other forms of homelessness – which has to be at best closed-minded wishful thinking. The 42% overall SRS households who have pre-payment meters is a critical factor and one that will likely see just as much if not more eviction into homelessness than from the private rented sector. When it is couple with 65% of SRS households receiving housing benefit (just 22% in PRS) that assertion assumes far greater validity and consideration yet the likes of Shelter, Crisis and the ever-increasing plethora of homeless lobbies are wearing blindfolds to this issue.

Within the year England will have MORE rough sleepers not less and will have far more cases of women and children fleeing domestic violence and abuse being refused entry to refuges due to the unaffordability of the cheapest social housing. The refuge of 20 rooms and an average length of stay of 4 months today (for illustration) has a yearly capacity or ‘throughput’ of 60 DVA households. Yet when the average length of stay at refuge increases to 6 months due to no affordable exist or ‘move-on’ that yearly capacity drops to 40 households who can flee DVA and 20 fewer than the previous year.

The same process and impact happens with single homeless hostels who have to refuse entry to greater numbers who then become rough sleepers.

The lack of genuinely affordable homeless-escape properties occurs with LA commissioned hotels, B&Bs and shamefully office conversions, collectively called TA so each homeless family will spend longer at each TA provision meaning every LA will have to commission more and more costly and frankly unsuitable TA.

The decades old expression in homelessness of “if you can’t move ‘em out, you can’t move ‘em in” – aka the move-on or homeless-escape property problem is significantly increased when we have out of control rent and other inflations and this is what we do have with the highest headline inflation for 40 years with CPI at 9% today and still forecast to rise further.

YET the homeless ‘expert’ narratives are still about we can end homelessness and still see ‘just build more social housing’ as panacea when there is no point building more unaffordable social housing and which wont help reduce homelessness in any way, shape or form. The homeless ‘expert’ narrative is still far too focused on PRS eviction and homelessness and pays little if any consideration to the massive increase in SRS eviction into homelessness that the irrefutable numeric facts say is inevitable. No DSS is already rife in social housing and as no 2 bed SRS property that is fully occupied will see the benefit household receive FULL housing benefit it means that the 76% of SRS housing that is the 2 bed and larger properties all become NO DSS properties. YET all the usual suspects and purported ‘homeless experts’ still only choose to see NO DSS as only happening in the proverbially nasty PRS!

Wake up! Smell the Coffee! Do the maths! This is not rocket science, it is THE most basic arithmetic!

I leave you with two tables of the average social rent level and average affordable rent levels by English region today – the official figures – and illustrated with a 9.5% CPI inflation rate for September 2022 giving a 10.5% rent increase in April 2023. If you choose to call the above a rant, a polemic, a diatribe or any other blame the messenger tactic because you are wedded to the myth that social housing is social and is affordable and does not practise NO DSS, just look at the numbers and remember that two plus two always equals four and basic arithmetic fact.

Solutions?

There are a number of immediate and urgent changes that are required JUST to keep the unacceptable current homeless household numbers from increasing:

  1. The Overall Benefit Cap policy has to be abandoned forthwith
  2. Each English local council needs to commission 50% more refuges
  3. Every local council needs to commission 50% more homeless hostel rooms
  4. Every local council needs to return to operating in-house homeless families units as they did 20 years ago as this is far cheaper than commissioning ever more expensive TA provisions

You may think the above absolute minimum and immediate changes are radical. I agree with you they are … yet this is a by-product of the blasé and (immediate term) cost of everything value of nothing strategy that local councils have had forced on them by reductions to local government settlement by the innumerate current government over many years. It is also chronic ignorance of the homeless-escape property issue and its affordability and thus ever-reducing availability by local councils and central government too and of purportedly social landlords insisting on inflation-busting SRS rent increases each year. The homeless lobbies such as Shelter and Crisis have no excuses for their unwillingness to even consider the homeless-escape property affordability issue.

The ignorance of the demand to ‘just build more bloody social housing’ when proposed as the panacea to homelessness is galling. There is simply no point in building more of what those to whom it is intended cannot afford it. It becomes a propagandist lie of SRS and homeless lobbies and nothing more used as a moralistic deflection that becomes an amoral one when its promoters can be arsed to look at the basic arithmetic facts.

Hello homeless households, we are building 100,000 more social houses per year that we know you cannot afford and we just thought we would rub your homeless noses in it – is all this ‘panacea’ solution is in all reality. So get a job you lazy bastards or no roof over your children’s heads is the narrative from SRS landlords … yet that won’t work to those ‘indolent’ households on less than average household income of circa £35k per year when you look at those numbers in an objective fashion either!

The social rent level impact
The affordable (sic) rent level impact

No point in building more social housing as it is unaffordable to the benefit and in-work household

There is no point in building new social housing as it is not affordable to those who need it.

Just build more social housing has been used as mantra by housing and homeless lobbies for many years as solution yet it cannot address the real crises of housing and homelessness let alone panacea which is the lack of affordability.

What the facts reveal is:

  1. The benefit household of two parents / two children will have a monthly rent top-up position within the year of £201 on a 2 bed social housing property in the South East of England as the maximum housing benefit is £201 below the social rent level charged and a staggering £489 per month below the rent charged on an affordable rent property of a council or housing association.
  2. The waged household needs a yearly household wage income of £43k to afford a 2 bed social housing property in the South East of England region using rent affordability as 30% of net income

The rent levels in social housing are what we still call NO DSS and they surpass that to become NO GOOD JOB NO HOUSING as the £43k household income level needed to afford a 2 bed SRS property in the 67 local authority areas in the South East region is £8,000 per year ABOVE the English average household yearly income of c35k.

Is there any SOCIAL purpose in building or developing any new social (sic) housing?

The rose-tinted spectacles worn by social housing and homeless lobbies have always CHOSEN to portray the “Housing Crisis” as a sole under supply issue and shy away from the real issue of rent affordability. It is NOT just the overall benefit cap policy that creates housing benefit shortfalls for the benefit household as in point 1 above; for as point 2 reveals the unaffordability for the household in full time work and means that the low paid in-work household will not be allocated a social housing property as they cannot afford the rent charged.

Yesterday saw some government minister few have ever heard of say just work longer hours and find a better job as her ‘cure’ for the Cost of Living Crisis. Extrapolate the figures and the £43k wage income that is needed to afford a 2 bed affordable (sic) rent social housing property is £22 per hour on a 39 hour working week and more than double the national minimum wage of £9.50 per hour. The comments of Rachel Maclean MP and Minister for Safeguarding were rightly jumped on for being offensive and as being out of touch yet take that outrage aside and her comments are innumerate nonsense as the need to earn £43k per year to afford a council or housing association 2 bed rent in the South East region reveals.

The 30% of net income benchmark of affordability is a typical one used for many years in the SRS whereas the private landlord typically uses 33 – 40%, yet that affordability benchmark will now be seen as too high a percentage given the 54% increase in gas and electricity prices in April and a further 40% to 60% increase in October this year.

Rent or mortgage is typically the highest monthly expenditure cost for the 65% of households in England who do not own their property outright (EHS 201920 has 34.8% and 8.29m of 23.8m English households owning outright) thus two in every three households in England pay rent or mortgage and some do both. They also have to pay heating and lighting costs and spiralling food costs which the Bank of England projects as ‘apocalyptic’ as well.

The Bank of England MPC May report here predicted that inflation (CPI) would reach 9.5% by September meaning SRS rents increase by 10.5% in April 2023 and no doubt replicated in the PRS. The BoE further predicted interest rates to increase from the current 1% to 4% in 2023 and signalled a formal recession. The affordability of housing whether rent or mortgage or both in the glorified tenancy product called shared ownership is the largest factor in the never defined “Cost of Living Crisis” and these same factors will create a marked upsurge in homelessness in England …

… for which the mantra of “just build more social housing” will do nothing to address or reduce.

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What the facts say on SRS affordability today and in April 23 are below

Table 1 – The Social Rent position

Table 2 – The Affordable Rent position

1.2 million live in social housing squalor says Queen’s Speech

1.2 million tenants live in social housing squalor is my take on the Queens Speech today!

12% of council and housing association properties do not meet the Decent Homes Standard says Government in the background paper on the Queens Speech and that exact same government wish list, aka a Queens Speech, promises to cut non-decent homes in the private rented sector down from 18% to 9% yet holds no plans or policies to cut the 12% non-decent homes in the social rented sector!

What does the Queens Speech background report say (page 68)

The 12% of ‘social (sic) housing’ that is non-decent equates to 490,000 SRS properties that accommodate c1.176 million men, women and children living in substandard non-decent housing at the accepted average of 2.4 persons per property.

Is it any wonder that the Daniel Hewitt ITV News exposes gained traction or any wonder that @KwajoHousing has gained huge traction on social media when almost 1.2 million men, women and children reside in substandard and non-decent social rented sector properties?

Is irony dead when Birmingham City Council launches a vociferous campaign against housing quality in the ‘exempt accommodation’ sector yet rents out properties such as these highlighted by Kwajo Tweneboa?

Two pictures of the mould in Birmingham City Council properties from @KwajoHousing

And what about Kate Henderson the Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation who in response to the Daniel Hewitt ITV News broadcasts exposing the ‘shit hole’ quality of Clarion Group properties, these being the largest HA and largest landlord in England, by saying just 5% of social housing is non-decent when the government states it to be 12%?

insert clarion kate henderson

Is it any wonder that Kate Henderson of the National Housing Federation welcomes this Queens Speech given it seeks to reduce non-decent homes ONLY in the Private Rented Sector and thus allows housing associations to carry on providing them?

Social housing tenants can expect “high standards” all they like Kate as your members and the government are intent on doing bugger all to improve your non-decent properties which at 12% of 2.4m housing asociation properties sees 691,200 men, women and children living in squalor. Do you wonder why they “feel” not listened to in your patronising condescending words?

What’s that reader? You thought the only issue with housing quality was with private landlords!!

Three-quarters of the cheapest social housing soon to be NO DSS says Bank of England

Today the Bank of England monetary policy forecast means that social housing is dead. In its 112-page length we find the BoE projection of 9% – 10% CPI inflation for September 2022 which means social housing is as dead as a Dodo and without any doubt as I detail below.

The September rate of CPI inflation which I use 9.5% here to illustrate determines two things. Firstly, it means social security benefit levels increase by 9.5% in April 2023. Secondly, it mean SRS rents will increase by 10.5% in April 2023 as the SRS rent increase formula is CPI+1%.

I illustrate what this means by using official average social rent level data and using official benefit data both of which are known and irrefutable official data. I then illustrate this in the context of the Overall Benefit Cap (OBC) policy which is a zero sum policy that be design cuts maximum housing benefit payable to benefit households and some low paid households – and these are analogous to the more than 3 in 5 social rented housing households who receive housing benefit (UC Housing Cost Element)

Illustration using 2P2C benefit household

Adam and Eve are the parents of Janet and John – the two parent two child household who today receive £1,218 in other benefit (UC Standard Allowance, Child Credit and Child Benefit) each calendar month. The OBC limit is £1667 per month so this means they have a maximum housing benefit payable of £449 per month.

If this 2P2C household lives in the South East region of England the average monthly rent on the cheapest 2 bed property, the social rent level not the 43% higher affordable rent level, is £508pcm. In overview they have a monthly rent shortfall of £59 each month today and for the rest of this financial year by receiving a max £449 housing benefit against a £508pcm rent.

In April 2023 however, their other benefit of £1218 pcm increases by 9.5% to become £1334pcm which leaves them with a maximum housing benefit payment of £333pcm. It also means that the rent of £508pcm today increases by 10.5% to become £561pcm. The rent shortfall moves from £59 per month and £708pa to £228 per month and £2,736 per year and which they are expected to find out of their other benefit.

If Adam, Eve and Janet& John live in a 2 bed property at the social rent level in the North East they will be paying an average of £383pcm in rent so this year their maximum housing benefit payable of £449 pcm is not a problem. However, in April 2023 their maximum housing benefit payment per month will be the £333pcm as stated above and their £383pcm cheapest rent will increase to £423pcm leaving a £90pcm housing benefit monthly shortfall and a £1,080 per year housing benefit (UC HCE) shortfall.

In short, the social landlords of councils and HAs can no longer afford the 2P2C benefit household even at their cheapest rent level of social rent. Existing SRS 2P2C households will fall rapidly down the arrears to eviction to homeless slope. No future 2P2C households will be allocated social housing either as they are a financial risk too far either!

The 1P2C household can easily and quickly become the 2P2C household or the 1P3C household and become too much of a financial risk for social landlords. The 1P1C household can also become the benefit household of 2P2C and thus a financial risk too far. In short ALL benefit households entitled to a 2-bed SRS property become the NO DSS household in council and housing association properties.

NB that 76% of all SRS properties in England are the 2-bed or larger properties and they are all soon to be NO DSS properties. Where will the benefit household live???

Note especially well that even disabled households for whom receipt of disability benefit exempts them from the OBC policy are also NO DSS and a financial risk too far. The DWP is removing PIP and DLA from hundreds of thousands of households each year and by the time those households appeal to a tribunal and get a correct decision to reverse the DWP decision and for the exemption to reapply they too fall quickly down the arrears to eviction to homeless slope … actually more quickly as disabled households still have the added costs of their disability to carry on on paying for whilst having no additional money to do so.

The two points above are a realistic overview not any castigation or slight on social landlord allocation policies. I could easily write a further 10,000 words as to how this means homelessness is going to rocket and continue to increase year on year on year and that the 1948 Welfare State social housing concept upon which free education and free healthcare depend is as dead as the proverbial Dodo. I could easily write how anyone who states that England can end homelessness is blowing smoke up their own backside and how demands to ‘just build more bloody social housing’ are just as facile and deluded as they will not work as they cannot be afforded by and will not be allocated to the benefit or homeless households.

Numbers don’t lie and the numbers above will see so many NOT want to believe them yet two plus two always equals four and four minus two equals two. There are still far too many who do not realise that the OBC policy is zero sum and so the £116 per month increase the 2P2C household will receive in April 2023 means a £116pcm reduction in the maximum housing benefit / UC HCE that they can receive. There are still far too many who believe NO DSS only applies to the private landlord when it is already endemic with the ‘social’ landlord. I can understand the great many who WANT to believe we can end homelessness yet those numbers which do not lie prove this is impossibility even to maintain existing homeless numbers and they are bound to increase year on year due to the structural conditions outlined above.

In summary reader, as you government is constantly persuading you that we will have to live with Covid you will also have to learn to live with ever-increasing homeless households, ever increasing rough sleepers on the streets and ever-increasing numbers of women dying from domestic violence and abuse as they cannot access refuges as they are continually full as even the best refuge service can’t find any affordable properties for existing refuge residents to move out to and begin their new lives so they can’t let any new residents into refuge.

The last highlighted section of todays BoE report meantions the second massive hike in energy prices due in October 2022. The BoE do not put an estimated figure on this second increase but the OBR did so in their report on the last mini-budget (Spring Statement) and this was a further £830 increase on top of the average £693 increase in April … or £1500+ per year more and circa £30 per week greater spend on gas and electricity.

Ask yourself how any benefit household or indeed a low pay household who can still receive housing benefit and still be non-exempt in the OBC policy can afford to make a rent top-up from their maximum housing benefit payable when they have to find an extra £30 per week to heat and eat that same home? Then factor in the increases in necessary housing expenditure such as food which is also increasing by CPI inflation or even higher increases …

As I say reader, get used to leaving with ever-increasing homelessness just as you are being told to learn to live with ever-increasing Covid and long-Covid.

Boris “Baboon” Johnson and RTB for housing associations charade

I had to double check it was not April Fool’s Day when the Daily Telegraph article here announced yesterday on 1 May that the current government are considering the Right to Buy to be imposed on housing associations. It is a total non-starter as the correct name given to housing associations by the official regulator is PRIVATE Registered Providers (PRP) as they are private sector organisations and not public sector like council landlords which the regulator labels as Registered Providers or RP.

HA properties are PRIVATE sector assets whereas council properties are PUBLIC sector assets and this irrefutable fact escapes the many social housing professionals who are giving credence to this charade by failing to see this key issue and not rejecting it as the absurdist propagandist charade it is.

  1. Can any government force PRIVATE companies sell off their assets on the cheap?
  2. Can the legislation needed to enact ‘HA RTB’ be drafted yet not extend to all PRIVATE landlords?

These are two of the obvious questions to ask yourself.

A third would be what did the “V” stand for in the 2015 V-RTB pilot? It was VOLUNTARY which meant this tiny scale pilot had to be agreed BY the housing associations that took part in VRTB!

The government cannot impose this and the entire story is one of political propagandist nonsense and deserves zero credibility. Let’s not also forget the Daily Telegraph is known colloquially as the Daily Torygraph a few years back said the government were going to extend the bedroom tax to the pensioner. The Telegraph has plenty of form in flying Tory kites!

The ONLY thing of note in this article is the irony of the picture and the massive communications fail as Boris Johnson is pictures in a hi-vis jacket and even though his blue tie sees this yellow and blue allude to Ukraine, the label on his hi-viz jacket begins B_A_B_O … and which suggests it ends with O_N to make BABOON as that is what you have to be to give any credence to this propagandist charade and total non-starter!

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/05/01/boris-johnson-planning-bring-back-right-buy/

LHA is unfit for purpose. An increase in rates is NOT the answer

The private landlord operating the shared HMO housing model in Northants Central has seen the LHA rate increase by 53.1% in actual terms since 2017. The private landlord operating the same shared HMO model in Wirral BRMA has seen a 9.8% cut in actual terms to the same LHA shared accommodation rate, or SAR.

Chart 1 below reveals the highest increases in overall LHA SAR over the last five years and also the lowest increase of LHA rates. These can be found in official LHA data and I have done a simple comparison between the rate operating at April 2017 and those that operate this month April 2022.

Chart 1 – LHA increase percentages overall average (SAR, 1bed, 2bed, 3bed, 4bed)

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-housing-allowance-lha-rates-applicable-from-april-2022-to-march-2023

Comments

  1. The highest and way above inflation increases are all in the South and the lowest increases and well below inflation are all in the North of England. This is a pronounced differentiation as the figures reveal. “Levelling Up” anyone?
  2. The narrative of Shelter, Generation Rent and so many others that LHA rates must be increased and this is a panacea to housing and homeless solutions is a nonsense narrative as for example it would mean that those areas where private landlords have received way above inflation increases over the last 5 years would benefit even more. In Northants Central the above CPI inflation increase overall is 26% over the last 5 years
  3. It further demolishes the narrative of Shelter, Generation Rent et al that LHA has not kept pace with inflation as the average LHA increase across all England is 13.74% and thus above the 13.6% CPI inflation between 2017 and 2022. Overall, their argument that LHA rates need to increase is a tenuous one when the real issue is PRS rent levels which have no control by anyone or any agency including government.
  4. The market decides and private landlords seek the best returns and profits so my opening comment focusing on shared provision would see Northants Central bombarded with HMO shared properties that is outside the control of local councils. The opposite happens in Wirral and all other areas with LHA rates that are below CPI inflation.
  5. Local councils have legal duties to produce housing and homeless strategy documents that become meaningless as the LHA rate determines the housing mix NOT the subjective council priorities – and as LHA rates are set centrally it also demolished the myth of Localism.

The Tories choice of a £30 per week gas / electricity rise and what it means for housing, homelessness, the ‘poor pensioner’ and the ‘hard-working’ family.

How can anyone afford and extra £30 per week, £127 per month and £1524 per year more for gas and electricity which is the current OBR estimate after last weeks mini budget?

The OBR Spring Statement had this £830 figure so the £1278 yearly average energy bill will increase by 54% next month to £1971 and then increase by a further £830 to £2801. In monthly terms £106 in March 2022 becomes £164 in April to September and then increases to £233 in October 2022 through to March 2023.

The OBR report on the Spring Statement (mini budget) of last week makes (deliberate) vague mention of the decrease in National Insurance Contributions paid as partly mitigating … yet what about those who do not pay NIC who still have this £127 per month increase in gas and electricity expenditure?

The pensioner does not pay NIC so will not benefit and in realistic terms the single pensioner who today spends 13% of state pension on gas and electricity will need to spend 29% of state pension just to keep the lights, heating and the fridge on come October..

The disabled household is another that typically does not work and so will not benefit at all from lower NIC contributions. Today the highest rate of disability benefit is 16% of the average domestic energy bill yet by October 36% of it will be needed to pay for gas and electricity.

The pensioner and the disabled household are £127 per month and £1524 per year worse off.

The incapacitated household those who are deemed not fit for work and in receipt of what was Incapacity Benefit then ESA and now UC LCW are in the same boat as they too will face the £127 per month increase in gas and electricity prices yet not benefit from the national insurance changes.

The increase in the NI threshold by £3000 per year means a worker will pay £360 less NI per year of £30 per month so it is insignificant mitigation (24%) on the extra £127 per more needed to keep the lights on at home as gas and electricity prices soar.

Also buried in the OBR report was CPI inflation would reach 9% by the end of 2022 …

9% CPI inflation also means 10% rent rises in social housing from April 2023 – the social rent increase formula is CPI+1% – which is where a large number of pensioner, disabled and incapacitated households live. According to the English Housing Survey some 54% of social rented sector (SRS) households include a disability and also 28% of all SRS tenants are pensioners.

The significance of energy price rises on housing, rehousing and homelessness?

The affordability of renting has hitherto largely been a question of will the tenant receive enough in housing benefit (HB, LHA, UC HCE) to cover the rent yet that now changes seismically to can the tenant afford to heat the rented property. The risk of frozen pipes and water ingress now has to be factored in to landlord allocation decisions or simply, will my property be looked after by the pensioner / disabled / incapacitated / low pay renting household. No landlord, private or social, will want a tenant who cannot afford to turn on the heating to ensure pipes do not freeze because they cannot afford to switch the heating on.

The additional £127 per month that HAS to be found to keep the lights and the fridge on will mean the rented household needs to make £127 per month cuts in other household expenditure (such as food, clothing, etc) which simply cannot be done with households on a largely fixed low-income which means the workless pensioner, disabled and incapacitated households AND the in-work on low-pay rented households.

Many existing rented households will find the slippery slope of arrears to eviction to homelessness. The new rented households which number circa 300k pa in social housing and circa 1.1 million private tenants will see NO DSS practised under the guise of affordability testing which will become far more rigorous as ALL landlords become far more risk averse and selective over what new tenant to choose. Many in full-time work on low pay will be refused social housing as they simply cannot afford to pay the rent and keep the heating on and of course will be refused private rented housing too yet being refused so-called ‘social’ housing is a real game changer.

Around 7 million households will be in receipt of Universal Credit and in work and the receipt of UC is likely to become the informal barrier to allocation of rented housing as by definition it equates with low wage income and thus the UC tenant even those in full-time work will be perceived as a financial risk too far as the prospective tenant even for social housing. That is a seismic change and largely created by the current government ALLOWING these prices hike in the energy price cap. The French government protected its citizens by limiting the increase in the energy price cap to 4%; whereas the UK government shafted its citizens by allowing a 54% increase from next month and then a further additional 42% increase on that – the extra £830 per year – in October 2022. The French government let private energy companies and their shareholders take a £8.4bn per year hit while the current UK government prioritised energy company shareholders over the pensioner, the disabled and the ‘hard-working’ low paid household.

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There are so, so many other aspects to this that are adverse.

The already homeless household who reside on the street or in hostel, refuge, temporary homeless family accommodations, sofa surfers, and all other homeless cohorts will be forced to stay there longer. The 10 room domestic abuse refuge with a current average stay of 4 months will have to stay for 6 months as the move from refuge will be more difficult due to affordability. That same 10 room refuge will see its yearly capacity or throughput be 20 households per year instead of 30 as it is now as a 4 month stay is 3 households per room per year times number of rooms (30) yet moves to 2 household / room / per year and 20.

Hostels and refuges will be fuller and for longer which means many more rough sleepers and other roofless persons will be refused hostels (and Housing First properties) and more women fleeing domestic abuse and violence will be refused access to refuges as they are fuller for longer too. The typical B&B aka dingy hotels and former office conversions that councils use as temporary homeless family provisions will be in the same boat of being fuller for longer and costs of TA will rise sharply and councils will need much more of it too.

The impacts of the 120% increase in gas and electricity prices from £106 per month in March 2022 to £233 per month in October 2022 (which of course will not come down) is dramatic in terms of housing, rehousing and homelessness. It systemically creates a system of perpetually increasing homelessness so any ridiculous assertions and hopes that we can end rough sleeping or end homelessness in England, claims made every day by homeless ‘experts’ will see historians look back and ask how could these ‘experts’ ever have been so naive!

It is not emotive to say that more pensioners will die of hypothermia this winter or that more women will be killed from domestic violence as they have nowhere to flee to. Both of these bloody offensive statements are realities of the current government ALLOWING gas and electricity prices to rise by 120% so that is where the blame lies for this in the Conservatives political choice.

In political terms, as reprehensible as Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is, note well that wholesale gas prices were the same on October 1 2021 and fiver months before the invasion as they were on 1 March 2022 when that invasion had just begun. WHEN this current UK government blames Putin and seeks to hides its own fault remember that and remember the French response and also factor in that the UK actually exports some of its gas too.

If you want real nuance in housing and homeless terms note that this government has also cut the DHP budget which for 2022/23 is less than it was in actual terms in 2013/14 when it was heralded as mitigation for the bedroom tax, overall benefit cap, increases in the SAR and so many other austerity policies as mitigation and choice for homeless prevention services and policies of local authorities. Will the 317 English local authorities who currently ‘allow’ £20 – 30 per week for gas and electricity in DHP claims now allow £50 – £60 per week in this from October when determining DHP claims? Will the same LAs increase their ‘allowances’ for all such discretionary spends such as energy efficiency initiatives for replacement boilers, cavity wall and other insulations, etc?

Pointedly, how much less will social landlords receive in DHP funding this year and income they have come to rely upon? How much more will social landlords have to set aside for burst pipes and other emergency repairs this winter? How much more costly will each repair be too? And then the narrative has already started within the housing sector over whether government will find a way not to increase benefits by 9% from April 2023 … but of course the narrative over CPI+1% or 10% SRS rent increases this means from the same date is not being discussed by the same ‘social’ (sic) housing professional.

Then throw into the mix the likelihood of government making no fault evictions a thing of the past that will see PRS landlords take flight from the benefit tenant markets, especially the rehousing of single homeless households which now sees the PRS rehouse 95% of them meaning SRS landlords will have to pick up this increased demand …

How many more existing SRS tenants will fall foul of the overall benefit cap policy whose limit is and never has been uprated by a 9% increase in social security benefits from April 2023 assuming the government does use the likely September 2022 CPI figure to uprate benefit in April 2023? The facts tells us it will be any benefit households with 2 children or more, or put another way the 2 bed and larger SRS property and which account for 76% of all SRS properties will be off limits and a NO DSS property … or a LETWA property to use the ridiculous housing jargon of Limited Entitlement To Welfare Assistance which is exactly the same thing

How many more existing SRS households will have a housing benefit shortfall / rent top-up position due to this? Ah, you see where the £127 per month increase in energy prices fits in now reader?

How long before the SRS landlords now pouring money into TEE initiatives and buying into the work will set you free narrative of the right-wing Conservatives as a way of affording rented housing will realise that the extra £36 monthly saving on reduced NICs will in no way compensate for the £127 monthly EXTRA cost tenants will have to pay for the same gas and electricity consumption? And bear in mind that most SRS properties have pre-payment meters so the actual increased energy cost will be more than this £127 per month increase too as pre-payment is the dearest form of gas and electric energy.

Will this also see a sharp reduction in rural renting much of which is dependent on oil based heating which is rising far faster that gas and electricity prices? Will rural landlords go to the wall because of the energy price hikes?

How soon before the despised Ground 8 evictions become the standard and norm in housing association evictions as necessity to reduce rent arrears losses? It is already happening by the way and I could go on with many, many more housing and homeless nuances which ALL lead to the same conclusion that the benefit household is domum non grata (household not welcome) to social landlords with the 120% energy price hikes the catalyst for the underlying OBC and other austerity policies.

In final summary, the notion of social housing and social landlord is dead, The social purpose notion of housing and rehousing those who cannot afford to rent at market rates or afford to buy, an ever-increasing percentage of the population, is housed or rehoused by social landlords is well and truly over. Councils and housing associations have always been able to refuse to rehouse households who can’t afford to rent and based on the old notion of just receiving full housing benefit. Now, with these 120% increases in rented household energy running costs that largely objective notion is now replaced with highly subjective landlord affordability criteria of which the greatest is can the tenant afford to heat my property?

The unavoidable politics

The social housing pillar of the 1948 Welfare State to slay the giant of squalor upon which free education and free NHS health services depend is gone for good with this Conservative government allowing 120% energy price rises on the pensioner, the disabled, the incapacitated and the hard-working low pay household. That is not an overtly political statement, it is however just the reality.

IF you are a diehard Tory the decision by Rishi Sunak to favour energy shareholders over the pensioner, the grey vote as it is called, sees Rishi Sunak anagramming to Hi Risk Anus being very apt. His decision to allow the energy price cap to rise so alarmingly when he could have curtailed it as in France, is a case of him prioritising energy company shareholders over the pensioner and is a schoolboy error in political terms.

Sunak’s promise of jam tomorrow in a 1% cut to income tax in 2024 also does nothing from the Jam and Jerusalem brigade and is a far bigger political mistake than the removal of the triple lock or indeed the 75p per week state pension increase of Gordon Brown in April 2000. The older persons lobbies will not forget this £6 or so per week increase in the basic state pension in April to mitigate a £30 per week increase in pensioner gas and electricity prices. Rishi Sunak in his Spring Statement has risked the grey vote by ignoring the reality of ALL pensioners in raising the energy price cap.

He may be saved by the incompetence of the Starmer Labour Party opposition in concentrating on windfall taxes on energy companies rather than telling Darby and Joan that the Tories have chosen to allow pensioner gas and electricity prices to increase by £30 per week. Starmer last week as Rachel Reeves his shadow chancellor has said previously stated that Labour is for those in work … and by consequence not for the pensioner, the disabled, the incapacitated or even those in low paid work by NOT bombarding the political agenda with this £30 per week increase in the average gas and electricity prices.

Starmer did try a half-arsed attempt in focusing on the increase VAT income the chancellor will receive by allowing higher energy prices yet that is very much secondary and a symptom of to the Chancellors political choice of raising the energy price cap which is the cause. In France the government there has limited the first energy price cap increase to 4% yet Sunak has allowed 54%. In France the energy sector is just as privatised as it is in the UK so this political choice was open to Sunak yet he failed to take it and thereby forced every UK pensioner to pay out £30 per week more in gas and electricity.

The Tories HAVE prioritised the private energy company shareholder over the ‘poor pensioner’ and even the hard-working family by Sunak choosing NOT to limit the energy price cap. Rishi Sunak in doing so lives up to the anagram of his name in Hi Risk Anus … and at the same time has seen the Red Wall voter narrative be taken off the political agenda as pensioners and disabled, incapacitated and even low paid hard-working families live in every constituency and will all suffer the £30 per week increase in gas and electricity prices and for which the Conservatives should and will suffer at the ballot box.

The next general election will not be all about marginalised Blue / Red swing constituencies as Sunak and the Conservatives planned for, it will be about the £30 per week increase in heating and lighting that the Conservatives chose to allow by favouring shareholders in private energy companies and also disregarding the low paid ‘swing’ voter as well.

The French decision to limit the energy price cap to 4% is here and that same decision and choice WAS open to Sunak and the Conservatives yet they CHOSE not to protect the poor pensioner and even the hard-working family. My primary concern and ‘agenda’ is the many more poor sods who will become homeless due to Sunak’s decision to allow gas and electricity prices to rise by £30 per week and over £1500 per year. I have barely touched on the seismic changes this means to housing, rehousing and homeless policies and practices in the UK this will mean, all of which are adverse for the low-income households which typify the vast majority of social housing tenants.

  • How many children’s lives will be ruined by homelessness?
  • Will children’s educational life chances be damaged more by prolonged and frequent residence in homeless families provision that ever was by Covid-19 lockdowns?
  • How many more women will die as a result of domestic violence and abuse?
  • How many more rough sleepers will die on the streets or under hedgerows?
  • How sharply will pensioner hypothermia deaths rise?
  • How much will rural house prices increase by as there is now not a hope in hell’s chance that social housing will exist there?
  • How many more disabled homeless households will there be?
  • Is Sheltered housing going to wither on the vine due to excessive and uncontrollable communal heating costs?
  • Will this rural housing and homeless issue impact more in Wales and Scotland than in England?

I could easily think of scores more seminal questions all brought about by the Conservative government CHOOSING to prioritise shareholders over its vulnerable citizens. …. Yet this second £830 per year increase in gas and electricity prices is NOT even being discussed and has scant awareness! Go figure!