Housing First doesn’t and can’t ever work. Rough sleepers deserve far more than this hyperbolic cult

The only things wrong with Housing First are its housing offer and its support offer … and the refusal of its zealous adherents to face reality. Or in short its whole kit and caboodle.

This ‘model’ can never possibly work in the UK when looked at critically using fact and contexts and especially not in England. The HF model has more propagandists than the Stasi had informants and scrutiny and critical evaluation are nowhere to be seen except in those pesky objective things called facts. Those who are roofless deserve far, far better.

I briefly touch on why the Housing First model cannot possibly work in the UK in this 5000 word overview such is the extent of the deception and propaganda that surrounds this cult-like model. It cannot work, it is prohibitively expensive and its proponents do not even envisage it supporting any more than 1 in 9 rough sleepers yet say nothing about the 8 in 9 rough sleepers it will not support. HF will also create more rough sleeping than we have today WHEN we look critically at the facts. So let’s start to look at those facts and why it is dangerous madness to ‘scale-up’ this turkey …

The ongoing countrywide HF model in Scotland takes 149 nights on average to find a suitable property for a HF client – 5 months – with the best performing area, Stirling taking 101nights and the worst in Edinburgh taking 195 nights or 6 and half months to find a suitable property!  The term Housing FIRST is a chronic misnomer. A HF service in Sheffield closed after 18 months as a mere 10 suitable properties in either the SRS or PRS could not be found in a city of 220,000 properties. Such facts are glossed over in wave upon repeated wave of propaganda, hope and hyperbole.

Housing First is nothing more than a cult.

The Liverpool City Region is a large scale pilot area for the HF model and was said to be the ideal HF area by Crisis in the 168-page tome report it commissioned. Yet the six local authorities in LCR have 17% of all rented properties being the needed 1 bed type when the English national average is 24% which is just one example of basic yet critical fact not even being considered by the zealots ahead of their headlong blind bull in a china shop adventure.

The Greater Manchester Housing Partnership claimed huge success for its HF service providing 357HF properties over three years … between 24 of the largest providers and which is 5 rough sleepers per large housing association per year!  The current large-scale pilot programme across the Greater Manchester Combined Authority has supported 200 former rough sleepers in 2 years across its 10 LA areas or 10 per LA per year with £3m of government funding per year.  An average of £15,000 per rough sleeper per year just in support costs with rent costs being additional making the yearly cost per HF client being over £20k per year set against the average £9.5k pa of the hostel resettlement model that HF wants to replace and claims to be cheaper than in its propaganda when it is more than double the cost.

All of the example above typify the incredible hyperbole over fact of the Housing First model and its abject denial of the basic fact that the availability of the suitable 1 bed property for the Housing First client is as rare as hen’s teeth AND the selling of snake oil that surrounds the model.

Jon Sparkes the chief executive of Crisis is the propagandist in chief of the Housing First model with the Scotland example being typical.  He proclaimed that the 404 achieved cases in Scotland were a stunning example of the success of HF and we must roll it out across England. 

What Jon Sparkes and Crisis WANT you to see and believe
What Jon Sparkes and Crisis and other propagandists DON’T WANT you ro see and read!

The basic arithmetic fact reveals the Scottish example, the first wide scale HF service of 404 rough sleepers over two years, means the HF model managed to house just 4% of the 5,000 per year rough sleepers Scotland has (and its government accepted this Shelter Scotland estimate) and did not rehouse 96% of rough sleepers AND it took 5 months to find the suitable property on average with no comment on what rough sleepers do for 149 nights before they are housed! 

This Housing First with an average five-month wait model is not a catchy name yet it describes the reality.  It also means Housing First needs a pre-stage housing and support option for the 4% of rough sleeping clients it eventually deals with and the other 96% of those sleeping rough can stay where they are as roofless and not in the cherry-picked easiest cohort that is clearly going on in Scotland and the GMHP example, the latter having a perverse financial incentive of a Social Investment Bond (SIB) rewarding providers with bonuses the longer a rough sleeper stays in the accommodation.

Housing First  – A Zero Sum game

The rough sleeper has to compete with the general needs tenant for the rare as hen’s teeth 1 bed property as I pointed out here with the official statistics stating 46% of those on council waiting list are waiting for the 1 bed property.  The rough sleeper also competes with the single homeless hostel resident for the same 1 bed property to escape homelessness and every 1 bed property given to the HF client is one less 1 bed property available for the homeless hostel resident which means they stay in hostel longer and thus deny the hostel taking in 1 more rough sleeper from the street which highlights the perversity of the Housing First (after a 5 month wait) model. 

It also means the one-third of domestic abuse residents who are single and also require a 1 bed to finally escape domestic abuse are denied the 1 bed property they qualify for and need when one is given to the HF former rough sleeper client.  The room at the refuge they live in is similarly bed-blocked and denied to a domestic abuse fleeing individual or family who has to be turned away from entering the refuge. 

A finite number of 1 bed properties become available to rent each year and we have a zero-sum game.  Rent to a HF rough sleeper and that denies the hostel dweller, the refuge resident and the general public.

This zero sum game is most acute in England with the acute shortage of one bed properties. England has a decades old structural issue that will take decades to resolve as we need at least 100,000 new one bed properties per year at the social rent level that are reserved for single homeless cohorts. 

The structural 1 bed property problem

Many reports call for between 90 – 130,000 total new social housing properties per year of all sizes and none of these reports by CIH, NHF, JRF or the claimed Independent Commission of Shelter ever include a breakdown of the 90k to 130k figure by size or bedroom number. ALL of them are requests for government capital subsidy funding that do not even bother to tell government who they are for and directly because they do not break down the global figure.  This continues the post-war trend of the ‘great and good’ of social housing not building for objective housing need and simply calling on government for funding those properties that either make them the most money or are political acceptable. 

Landlord risk aversion

The zero sum game of a finite number of 1 bed properties being available each year sees the Housing First model simply create a new choice of prospective tenant for them – a distinctly unappealing choice with no incentive for a landlord to use the 1 bed property for a former rough sleeper.

Every landlord has a choice for each 1 bed property that becomes available of

  • rehousing a rough sleeper direct from the street (very high risk) or
  • a hostel resident (high risk) or
  • a single female from refuge (medium risk) or
  • a general needs (low risk) tenant

 – With no greater financial reward for accommodating the (perceived) very high risk rough sleeper than for the low or minimal risk general needs tenant. 

Why on Earth would any landlord take on much greater risk of tenancy failure and additional cost for no extra financial reward? 

This obvious practical question is yet another issue that the zealous HF model adherents conveniently sweep under the carpet.  That obvious question is further compounded given the acute shortage of 1 bed supply and further compounded by the affordable rent regime.

The affordable (sic) rent regime and Housing First

In Liverpool (which has no council housing) the average housing association rent for a 1 bed general needs property is £77 per week at the social rent level thus the landlord receives £77 per week in housing benefit or UC housing element.  The 1 bed maximum LHA rate in Liverpool is £92 per week so the private landlord can receive £92 per week in housing benefit.  However, Liverpool has the highest number of the misnamed “affordable rent” properties in the UK at over 6,000 and HAs charge £104 per week for a 1 bed AR property which means they receive £104 per week in housing benefit. 

This £104 per week AR level is 35% more than the HA receives in social rent and is 13% more than the maximum a private landlord can receive in housing benefit – and it is receivable for the general needs and lowest risk tenant.  The HA landlord can choose as a desktop exercise to convert a social rent level 1 bed to an affordable rent level 1 bed at is bidding.  The former tenant paying £77 per week leaves on a Friday to be replaced in the exact same property with a new tenant paying £104 per week on the Monday

I ask again … Why would the HA landlord accommodate the highest risk rough sleeper direct from the streets for no increase in rental income?

It is these basic and obvious questions set in the factual context that the Housing First zealots conveniently ignore when they zealously promote the absurdly theoretical HF model as the solution to rough sleeping.  Every industry works on the basis of higher risk must equal higher reward and is a given of any business so why do the HF zealots choose to overlook this obvious issue?

Housing First – The Comparative Bullshit

The same HF zealots are very fond of saying the HF model works so well in Finland (largely correct) so therefore it will work in England.  That is a chronic non sequitur which again ignores the critical facts that differentiate the English welfare system from the Finnish welfare system. 

In Finland the final HF 1 bed property is limited to one-third of the gross market rent which means using the Liverpool analogy a rent of £45 per week would be the maximum rent level.  I say final as the Finnish model is not a true HF model as rough sleepers are first placed in hostel shared provision until the 1 bed final accommodation becomes available and to those who have proved their readiness for semi-independent living. The notion that the Finnish HF system is rough sleeping directly to own property is a myth as this article reveals from the Guardian from which this comes

Read the article and it states the above self-titled “homeless hostel” is a stage before independent living

On a closer look the Finnish rough sleeper receives (2018/19 figures) €203 per week and crudely 3 times the English level of base benefit and the Finnish model guarantees by right the immediate availability of a social worker, probation worker, drug, alcohol, mental health and any other needed support worker on demand. 

The Finnish HF model also includes free breakfasts and free saunas too and main meals for a subsidised €1 cost.  The comparison is chalk and cheese … and yet another fact that the HF zealots in England very conveniently choose to ignore!

Many previous Housing First articlea I have written after extensive research summarises the main differences as

The same zealots are also fond of flippantly asserting that the HF model works in America so it must work here in the UK.  Yet the Housing First model does not work in the USA at all and see the Manhattan Institute’s scathing attack on it below. It does not include other facts for example HF was introduced in New York and New Jersey from the mid to late 1990s when New York City alone had 33,000 homeless persons (rough sleepers / night shelter residents) which by 2018 had increased to 78,000 despite the ‘panacea’ of the Housing First model. 

On a personal anecdotal basis I used to visit New York and New Jersey every year from the mid-1990s as the brother of my former partner worked in NYC and lived in New Jersey.  I walked into many homeless shelters that litter the centre of NYC and spoke with staff working there and I visited a number of HF services in New Jersey – a busman’s holiday if you will as a supported housing consultant – and have closely followed the HF and other homeless models in NY and NJ ever since and got my head around HUD and other funding of the US housing welfare system. Obama and even Trump tried the Housing First model and these two very divergent politicians could not make Housing First work and despite throwing more money at it than the UK government is willing to do by comparison too. 

I also set up what would now be called a Housing First model more than 20 years ago in advising a housing association with chronically difficult-to-let tiny 2 bed terraced properties to rehouse single people direct from a local detox service which raised a few eyebrows but was extremely successful and mutually beneficial as the landlord eliminated its void problem of its DTL’s and vulnerable detox residents got their own place of a far higher standard than they ever thought instead of going through the hostel system  and waiting for months for something inferior to eventually turn up. This single homeless cohort like all others saw this unexpected quality of provision as a huge incentive not to f*ck-up again and get their heads out of their backsides being their stated views. Note too this was at a time when social landlords were saying bedsits were no longer good enough for sheltered housing so let’s remodel them as being good enough for homeless persons!

Today such disgraceful arguments remain as common unfortunately

Housing First – The Bedroom Tax Problem

The detox example was one of many similar services that could no longer happen with the bedroom tax policy in place since 2013 and neither can a social landlord give a small 2 bed property to a single women from a domestic abuse refuge which was also quite common and again now unavailable due to the bedroom tax policy. The bedroom tax forces SRS landlords to only allocate based on immediate presenting need for bedrooms which means a newly married couple is given a 1 bed and has to move home if they start a family.  The single women moving out of refuge was pre Bedroom Tax offered a 2 bed property in order to free up a refuge room for a family fleeing domestic abuse is another example of good practice that is no longer available due to Bedroom Tax policy and alleged ‘reform’ which means to improve not make worse as has been the reality.

In short, many so-called and misnamed ‘welfare reform (sic)’ policies exacerbate the property availability problem and severely constrain the solutions for all single homeless cohorts not just the rough sleeper.

I could go on with many more nuanced issues that sees the Housing First model is delusional in believing that the ethereal 1 bed property – which the HF model is entirely based upon – is simply not available and the model has no chance whatsoever of ever succeeding in rehousing the rough sleeper.  The model also has a critical problem with its visiting support offer too and to which I now turn.

Visiting Support

In 2000 and as part of the Transitional Housing Benefit System (THBS) – the precursor to Supporting People (SP) – the then Labour government issued guidance on visiting support services to local authorities who adjudged claims for support funding.  The HB adjudication circular (HB A47/2000) stating that a visiting support service of up to 5 hours per week was a low level service, 6 – 21 hours per week a medium level visiting support services; and 21 hours or more per week of visiting support was a high level service.

The Housing First model typically sees just 3 hours of visiting support PER WEEK when the only ever guidance document on reasonable, realistic and justifiable visiting support for a high and complex need client group such as the rough sleeper was for a minimum of 3 hours PER DAY of visiting support.  It is immaterial as to whether you believe that 3 hours per day (21 hours+ per week) is right, the issue is how can ANY model of visiting support make any sense or frankly work, when it is one seventh of the guidance of 20 years ago?

Another factor is in 2005 the Audit Commission produced a baseline report of actual in-payment costs of support per hour – or unit cost – which found the cost of one hour of visiting support was 34% higher than the cost of one hour of support in an accommodation-based service such as a homeless hostel. 

With a finite budget always being the case in terms of support (which is 100% discretionary and not a right as some forms of care funding is) the cost of support is always a critical issue.  Under Supporting People 2004 actual figures of £17 to over £23 per hour, the accommodation-based support cost at a hostel funded 6 hours of support every £100 invested yet the visiting support model to homeless persons bought just 4 hours of support for each £100 invested.

Recently the oft-stated cost of visiting support in the Housing First model is said to be £40 per hour by its adherents who also claim this is good value (in fact they sell HF as being cheaper than the hostel resettlement model when it is far more expensive) yet the average cost of visiting care service funding is less than £18 per hour as an English national average.  Why is the visiting support cost under Housing First more than twice the cost of visiting care services is one question the Homeless APPG who are currently determining HOW to scale up Housing First (and not whether they should or whether it can work, which it can’t!) need to consider: Yet they too are swayed by the hyperbole and propaganda of the HF model and, presumably, as Crisis the propagandists-in-chief of the HF model also provide the secretariat for the Homeless APPG!

The APPG being all party means politicians from all parties are convinced about the Housing First model, which the above part detail discussion reveals to be delusional, and frankly smacks of government wanting to be seen to be doing something rather than doing anything of substance.  It’s not the first time an apolitical cock-up has happened and won’t be the last yet moving forward with Housing First is a very dangerous pursuit.

We have thrown millions at what the ‘experts’ (Crisis et al) said would eradicate rough sleeping so rough sleeping must be unsolvable and therefore we are not going to throw any funding its way in the future … is the position that all future governments will adopt WHEN the Housing First model fails as it inevitably will.  That is the real danger in going ahead with a model that has been proven NOT to work in the UK and which all of the facts, factors and context all say it cannot possibly work.

It is entirely understandable that everyone wants the HF model to work yet that is extremely improbable as the facts demonstrate and is no reason to move headlong into adopting the HF model which appears to be the case from the Homeless APPG given its call for papers solely on how we scale up and not whether we should or whether HF will work. 

The Political Economy Problem with Housing First

The new Boris Johnson administration declared in December 2019 shortly after winning the last general election that they would ‘eradicate’ rough sleeping by the end of the current parliament that is by 2024.  The previous Theresa May administration had a policy to halve it by 2022 and eradicate by 2027, a policy aim hastily stated in response to the severe winter known as the Best from the East, that the current government with the extremely ambitious Jenrick at MHCLG brought forward and gave £29m in support only costs to three large-scale pilot areas in Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. 

£29m for 1000 rough sleepers over three years and just for support costs with rents being met by housing benefit gave a target figure of £9,666 per rough sleeper for support per year and a figure that equated to the average cost of hostel provision for both accommodation and support of circa £180 per week.

Simple arithmetic tells us that the 100,000 homeless hostel residents England has each year (circa 40k hostels with an average length of stay at 21 weeks)  would need 100,000 lots of £9,666 per year of support only costs or £966 million per year in Housing First supply only cost for the HF model to replace the failing hostel resettlement model – failing as they have been bed-blocked for decades due to the same lack of 1 bed move-on provision to provide the escape from homelessness, the same structural non-availability that Housing First is now seeing and which the HF zealots and propagandists chose to ignore and believe was not at play.

England has some 50,000 rough sleepers per year as a cautiously low estimate and something that apparently shocked the government and its ‘experts’ in Crisis et al when the pandemic brought about the need to get all rough sleepers off the streets as a public health issue. 29,000 in the first 6 months were put up in temporary hotel style accommodations leading the National Audit Office to say rough sleeping numbers were 8 times what the government previously estimated and believed.  The costs of ending rough sleeping spiralled in the minds of the bean counters of Whitehall which led to the right wing CSJ think tank set up by Iain Duncan Smith seconding a Crisis employee to come up with the Close To Home report published in February 2021.

Close to Home asserts that just 16,500 rough sleepers require the Housing First support model and require HF visiting support for a target duration of three years.  However, the English system produces 50,000 rough sleepers per year so 16,500 out of 150,000 or 11% of the rough sleepers over three years is the government seeking to reduce costs by only supporting 11% and not funding the support of 89% of the rough sleepers over the next three years. Note well this is not a case of calling for 16,500 rough sleeper per year being supported but 16,500 being supported for a three year period. 

16,500 per year would be 16,500 in Year 1, then 33,000 in Year 2 and then 49,500 in Year 3 and each subsequent year yet the funding proposal is just for 16,500 every year of this 3 year period – a very different thing altogether as the numbers reveal, and even arguing against myself it would mean Crisis and their CSJ bedfellows believe 2 in every 3 of the 50,000 yearly rough sleepers England has each year can transition from the street to a tenancy of their own without the need for any support!  Those inclined to believe the right wing CSJ think tank’s hyperbolic nonsense over Housing First may wish to read the right wing Manhattan Institute view of Housing First effectiveness in the USA here which is scathing and argues:

 “…that proponents overstate the ability of Housing First to end homelessness, the policy’s cost-effectiveness, and its ability to improve the lives of the homeless.”

I am now being called a noted critic of the Housing First model by right wing commentators and academics – a more diplomatic term than the usual scaremonger-in –chief and other blame the messenger to deflect strategy. In 2002 I was a noted and publicly vociferous critic of the Supporting People programme and the direction it was taking in practical terms.  The theory of SP like the Housing First theory is fine in theory yet a dangerous nightmare in practice as has been proven with SP.  This resulted in central government offering me a wide-ranging position as an advisor to their SP programme with a very lucrative yearly consultancy contract that I flatly refused. It was an attempt to shut me up and instead have to promote the propagandist Labour government line on Supporting People and I continued advising scores of supported housing providers in this very niche area. I had to turn away 9 out of every 10 providers who approached my firm from our marketing budget of zero by challenging LA commissioning and decommissioning decisions. 

This relatively short 4000+ word article on the absurdly theoretical and unworkable Housing First model is not a pitch for business either it just needs to be said in broad overview to counter the hyperbolic propagandist nonsense of the Housing First model which is dangerous twaddle and closely resembles a cult.

The fears I had about SP all came true when the Labour government took away the SP ringfence – the only effective time support was anywhere near non-discretionary – and which led directly to the rough sleeper, homeless, and social care crises we have today.    The Labour governments SP ringfence removal was piloted in Liverpool, the only administering local authority who failed its Audit Commission inspection AND its reinspection to add perverse insult to absurd injury. 

It was also the first real version of doctrinaire Localism and this abjectly failed too and led to a national crisis seen for example in the Dementia Tax issue at the last before one general election.  Short –term cuts to preventative support services led to crises of care as they always will do and large scale cuts to subjectively perceived ‘non-deserving’ support services, such as the closure of 7,000 hostel beds in England since which has led to the crisis in rough sleeping and other homeless numbers we have today.

My fear that WHEN the Housing First model fails governments will say we funded to what the ‘experts’ of industry lobbies and academia said would work thus ending rooflessness / reducing homelessness is a lost cause governments will say and a case of throwing good money after bad will also happen IF the blind zeal for the unworkable Housing First model sees the ‘scale-up’ that its propagandists want.  It is the government ‘out’ for their realisation that the financial cost of eradicating rough sleeping is not the petty cash funding level they want to throw at it.  Ending rough sleeping will need multi-billions per year for the next ten years and government is not prepared to commit such funding levels for a mere pledge.

If something isn’t working expand it and no-one will notice or get blamed is an old saw or adage and the Housing First model today is the epitome of that adage.  Those who are roofless and the only visible manifestation of homelessness deserve far, far better than the unworkable Housing First model.

Get pregnant to get a council house is Tory housing policy – Be careful what you wish for !!

Imagine going into a shop to buy clothes only to be told they only have Medium and Large and don’t do Small or Extra Large.  Now imagine that a 1 bed property is Small, a 2 bed is Medium, a 3 bed Large and a 4bed+ is Extra Large and there you have English social housing in stark reality and factual context.

The government department for housing (MHCLG) this week published the Statistical Data Return (SDR) figures which are the official data up to March 2020.  Two very stark facts stood out for me in this huge official data source of (a) How social housing is broken down by property size that is bedroom number, or in short the social housing SUPPLY; and (b) the local authority waiting lists that were broken down by those waiting for a 1, 2, 3 or 4 bed+ property, or in short DEMAND.  The simple chart below puts these facts side by side: –

What the chart shows is England’s social housing stock has a surfeit of 2 and 3 bed properties (when the red block exceeds the blue) and a shortage of 4 bed+ properties and a massive chronic shortfall of 1 bed properties (when the blue block soars ahead of the red.) 

If you ever thought that social housing had a purpose to meet real housing need or demand these figures reveal they have failed in spectacular fashion.  SRS landlords for decades have kept on stocking their housing shop with Medium and Large sizes when the customer demand was mostly for Small and Extra Large.

46% of all household on council waiting lists want and more importantly are only entitled to a one bed property as the bedroom tax allocates customer demand by virtue of immediate bedroom size only.  For example the newly married young couple get allocated a 1 bed property only because of the bedroom tax policy which means they need to move if they choose to have a family. 

Staying with the one bed property and looking at what this means we find 528,964 are on council waiting lists for a 1 bed general needs property.  The official data reveals councils have 383,586 1 bed general needs properties and housing associations have 473,237 for a combined SRS general needs total of 856,823. 

In addition to the 528,964 wanting a general needs SRS 1 bed property we know England has 150,000 single homeless households each year who also all need a 1 bed property to escape homelessness. This single homeless 150,000 is the yearly total or rough sleepers, those in single homeless hostels and single women in domestic abuse refuges where some one-third of all are single women without children so also need the 1 bed property to finally escape domestic abuse.

Then, another official housing dataset in the English Housing Survey published in July 2020 revealed there are 386,000 homes in England in which a single household sofa surfer lives.

529k in general needs plus 150,000 single homeless plus a further 386,000 sees over a million single households – 1,065,000 – needing a 1 bed SRS property and you begin to see the extent of the 1 bed housing crisis in England.

It means in England we can never solve single homelessness due to the acute shortage of 1 bed properties.  It means however much you roll the absurdly theoretical Housing First model in glitter (as some not so bright Sparkes do!) it cannot work in England due to the acute shortage of 1 bed properties.  You can’t operate Housing FIRST id the properties are not there to be found (and note well the Scottish Housing First service takes 149 days to find a property in either the SRS or PRS!)

It is also the reason why the resettlement model of homelessness has been failing for decades which has prompted the ridiculous Housing First model that can’t possibly work as if you can’t move single homeless persons out of hostels due to there being no 1 bed properties for them to move into, then you cannot take in new single homeless persons into hostels  = an acute increase in those forced to sleep rough.  The same process happens in domestic abuse refuges and leads to more prolonged domestic abuse as refuges cannot take new clients in if they can’t move the existing survivors out.

In short, the chronic mismatch of social housing supply and demand is much more important than an imbalance in a chart. It has devastating adverse impacts. 

In fact the age-old errant adage that girls deliberately get pregnant to get a council house now has some extremely offensive logic to it as SRS housing is awash with 2 bed and 3 bed housing and you have no chance of getting a 1 bed so get pregnant to get a 2 bed! This gives an obscene level of irony to the uber right –wing ideologues who repeated this get prenant to get council housing myth ad infinitum and then introduced the bedroom tax to ensure it happens given SRS housing supply!

The bedroom tax incentivises the get pregnant to get a council house myth and which reveals the acute lack of pre-thought in the policy which devastates communities by forced moves if you start a family due to its allocation on immediate bedroom need only.

I could write so much more yet to sumamrise any business who only stocks Medium and Large goods when the acute demand is for Small products is an idiot and unfit for purpose.  This, reader, describes social landlords aptly and accurately and for many decades as these facts reveal and also accurately describes housing policy of the Conservatives regarding social housing which they despise.

NO DSS is rampant in social housing! Yes that does say ‘social’ housing!

On the day the Church of England says affordable rent is not affordable I revisit my claim that NO DSS is rampant in what we misterm as social housing.

This is an argument I first posited back in 2012 and regularly restated since. Given the argument involves figures (aka basic numerical facts) and repeatedly denied and ignored due to this I thought I would patronise you reader by making it as simple as possible to understand how NO DSS is rampant in social housing.

Below is the simplest of charts which details England’s social (sic) housing by the number of bedrooms in a property.

Source: Social landlord’s own official returns to housing regulator – Statistical Data Return

In 2013 two austerity policies called bedroom tax and overall benefit cap were imposed. The bedroom tax means that every council and housing association property has to be fully populated else the housing benefit is cut which means the prospective tenant households (some 360k per year) are refused a social housing property if they under occupy.

The overall benefit cap policy puts a finite limit on how much in total ‘welfare’ a benefit household can receive which was £26,000 per year in 2013 and is now £23,000 per year in London (a 24% real term cut) and £20,000 per year outside of London for a 42% cut in real terms.

What the overall benefit cap means is that a benefit household will not be allocated a 3 bed or larger property at the lowest social rent level as they will not get enough in housing benefit to pay the rent. Thus NO DSS operates and while social landlords and their lobbies call this LETWA – Limited Entitlement To Welfare Assistance – this is a thinly disguised euphemism for the de facto NO DSS it is.

In some parts of England the 2 bed property at the social rent level or at the London Living Rent level is also NO DSS as the prospective benefit household does not get enough in housing benefit to cover the rent.

In almost all of England a fully populated 2 bed property which is set at the affordable rent level (sic) which on average is 47% more than the 2 bed social rent level also see the benefit household refused the allocation of a property for further NO DSS practice.

In some areas the 1 bed social housing property let at the affordable (sic) rent level means the prospective tenant does not get enough in housing benefit or UC housing cost element to cover the rent – again NO DSS applies and is routinely practised by social landlords to prospective tenants.

These policies began in 2013 but were put in place in readiness in 2012 by social (sic) landlords and so the 360,000 per year newly available properties and some 3.24 million of today’s 4.3 million social housing properties have been subject to NO DSS upon allocation – 9 years at 360,000 – which is three quarters of all current social tenants in England.

What this means is not just NO DSS is rife in social housing. It also begs the simple question of where the hell do benefit households live when they are rejected by social landlords? It begs another question of how the hell can landlords call themselves ;social’ when they habitually practise NO DSS? It begs a further question of why the likes of Shelter and other sycophantic organisations still believe that NO DSS is only practised by proverbially nasty private landlords but not by (beneficent) social landlords?

One possible answer to where do benefit households now live is they become sofa surfers. In July 2020 the authoritative English Housing Survey stated 541,000 households in England contain a sofa surfing household. 386,000 of these is the single homeless household (individual or childless couple) and 155,000 are family homeless sofa surfers with children. This also reveals the absurdity of the name sofa-surfer as I have yet to see a sofa that a family with children can all sleep on!

A sofa-surfer (sic) is legally a lodger household who can be evicted without court action with a 7-day handwritten letter and thus are permanently and perpetually in a legal state of being homeless. Collectively, some 820,000 men. Women and children are perpetually homeless in these 541,000 households which have sofa-surfers within them. Note too the eviction ban introduced during the pandemic only applies to tenants and not to licence holders such as lodgers / sofa surfers too.

EHS 2018/19, released July 2020

In summary, social (sic) landlords either deny they operate NO DSS with the absurd LETWA label or claim their NO DSS practises which are everyday routine practises were thrust upon the by austerity policies of bedroom tax and overall benefit cap (and a few others) yet they cannot deny that their NO DSS practises are rife and apply to an ever increasing majority of all social housing properties that come up to be allocated.

Huge increase in NO DSS in social housing and acute homeless risk of the £20pw UC uplift

UC off you can’t afford affordable rent … Or the actual impacts of the £20pw uplift.

The £20 per week uplift places 50% MORE into poverty than removing it and that is just in its first year. Continuing with it will see far more men, women and children put into poverty still and a pernicious form of actual poverty we can call rent poverty as it directly targets rent and thus increases the arrears to eviction to homeless pathway.

The £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit sees every 2 bedroom or larger social housing property let at the misnamed “affordable rent” level become a NO DSS property. It will also see over 1 million men, women and children directly placed into real and rent poverty by 11 April 2021 – 1.15 million at a conservative estimate compared to 700,000 if it is stopped – when it is scheduled to end as one direct impact with obvious homelessness impacts.

The UC household does not receive enough in housing benefit to cover rent due to the overall benefit cap policy that cuts housing benefit levels as its first point of call hence (a) existing tenants will become homeless; and (b) prospective new tenants on UC will not be allocated an AR property in social housing as social (sic) landlords practice NO DSS and refuse to accommodate

The affordable (sic) rent model in the social rented sector sees all fully occupied 2 bed properties have its UC benefit households breaching the overall benefit cap with the £20pw / £1040 pa uplift.

In London and many other areas of England (see below) this also applies to a single person in a 1 bed affordable rent property of a social landlord. One in six (16.8%) caught by the overall benefit cap policy are single people with no children at the latest published data to the end of August 2020

ASHFORD – AYLESBURY – BASINGSTOKE – BATH – BEDFORD – BLACKWATER VALLEY – BOURNEMOUTH – BRIGHTON – BRISTOL – CAMBRIDGE – CANTERBURY – CENTRAL MANCHESTER – CHELMSFORD – CHERWELL VALLEY – CHICHESTER – CHILTERNS – CRAWLEY – EAST THAMES VALLEY – EASTBOURNE – EXETER – LUTON – MAIDSTONE – MEDWAY – MILTON KEYNES – NEWBURY – NW KENT – OXFORD – PORTSMOUTH – READING – SALISBURY – SOLIHULL – SE HERTS – SW ESSEX – SW HERTS – SOUTHAMPTON – SOUTHEND – STEVENAGE – WALTON – WARWICKSHIRE SOUTH – WINCHESTER – WORTHING

The list is not exhaustive as there are also many areas where the affordable rent level exceeds the maximum that the private landlord can receive in LHA housing benefit and the OBC cap will also be breached sporadically in other areas such as Salford and other lower rent areas as I detailed here a few years ago.

It is also the case that every fully occupied 3 bed SRS property at the social rent level is now off limits and a NO DSS property so this is not just about affordable rent, as many 2 bed social rent level properties that are fully occupied also exceed the OBC limit. This is a seismic structural issue of how we accommodate the benefit household generally given the vicissitudes of the venal overall benefit cap (OBC) policy.

The private landlord says we will not house you as your housing benefit will not meet the rent. We know this as NO DSS. The exact same scenario in the social rented sector is now happening and while No UC would be more correct it doesn’t have the cachet of NO DSS and everyone knows what NO DSS means.

How can ‘social’ landlords be ‘social’ if they practice NO DSS? How can the model called “affordable rent” be ‘affordable’ as it denies the UC benefit households from being allocated a social (ahem) housing property – or UC off you cant afford the affordable rent!

That is the reality and due to the zero sum nature of the Overall Benefit Cap every £20 more the UC household receives is met with a corresponding £20 per week deduction to the maximum UC housing benefit that is payable – which has been the case since the £20 per week UC uplift began in April 2020 and I detailed here.

Social (sic) landlords have been going hell for leather for the ‘affordable (sic) model’ for a decade and they have (a) developed six new new AR properties for every one property they develop at the social rent level; and (b) they have converted a quarter of a million former social rent rent properties to become affordable rent properties and which means a 47% increase in rent as an average across England.

ALL of these misnamed “affordable (sic) rent” properties become NO UC and thus NO DSS properties due to the £20 per week UC uplift. The affordable rent model means landlords who operate it cannot by any definition be termed social landlords; rather they must be asocial landlords as these AR properties are denied to those who receive Universal Credit.

Up until March 2020 and directly before the £20 per week UC all fully occupied 3-bed AR properties across England were NO DSS due to the OBC yet now all 2-bed AR properties across England have become NO DSS due directly to the UC uplift and in many areas the 1 bed AR property has become NO DSS.

None of the above direct impacts of the UC uplift was considered by the Work and Pensions Select Committee in their recommendation published earlier this week to continue with the £20 per week UC uplift! This means none of the myriad of expert organisations and think tanks who presented evidence to this scrutiny committee mentioned this direct impact of the £20 per week UC uplift and which simply reveals just how ‘expert’ these organisations are not.

The scope of the Work and Pensions enquiry that failed to look at the impact OF the £20pw uplift

The Work and Pensions Committee looked at the impact of removing the temporary £20 per week increase but did not look at the adverse impact the £20 pw uplift has had and will continue to have!! I have no reason to doubt the 700,000 additional men, women and children that the removal will place in poverty as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation submitted to the committee YET as I outline here the increase itself will lead to a cautiously estimated 1.15 million men, women and children and some 50% more and that is just in its original one year temporary format from April 2020. There was a hugely errant and superficial predetermined assumption by the Work and Pensions Committee that the £20 UC uplift must be a good thing when the figures reveal that 50% more will be placed into poverty by the policy!!

That is not some counter-intuitive mumbo jumbo or argument outlined to be contrarian, it is what the numbers those pesky and irrefutable numerical facts say and what the Work and Pensions Committee did not even bother to look at!! Instead they assumed that any increase in social security benefit must help alleviate poverty and in doing so they failed to consider how the Overall Benefit Cap policy interacted with this increase. This is extremely negligent and no benefit increase or reduction operates in the theoretic vacuum that was assumed here. To make matters worse the Work and Pensions Committee failed to look at the OBC data that was published in November that revealed 15,000 new OBC households per month as a result of the £20 pw UC increase.

What is more surprising is the Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee is Stephen Timms MP whom I regard as THE most knowledgeable MP in the House of Commons (by far) and hitherto a stickler for detail who invariably sees the complex links and interactions and applied practicalities of each social security benefit change. Here we see the exact opposite at play.

It is the usual tale of ‘experts’ ignoring fact and proposing superficial policy in a vacuum because they sound good so they must be good, the same superficiality that sees zealous advocacy of banning no fault eviction that will see a massive systemic and structural spike in homelessness as landlords become even more risk averse.

It is the same incompetent and superficial idiots (aka the ‘experts’) proposing the banning of no fault eviction who are avidly promoting the continuation of the £20 per week UC uplift even though it will directly place well over 1 million more men, women and children into poverty. Given the operation of the Overall Benefit Cap policy which cuts housing benefit first and by priority, this is rent poverty that also hastens on the arrears to eviction to homeless pathway.

Caring Conservatism is exposed for what it is. In this case a miserly £20 per week increase in social security benefit has exposed that what the Tories call affordable rent is not affordable to the UC benefit tenant. A measly £20 per week has highlighted just how venal the overall benefit cap policy is and also how social (sic) landlords are just as extreme right wing innumerates as the current Tories by being in cahoots with them over affordable (sic) rent that prioritises SRS landlord profit at the expense of the UC benefit households who now face NO DSS from these so-called social landlords!

Caring Conservatism and Social Ethos are the same side of the same coin and are chimeras and propagandist tools whether used by the Tory politician or the council or housing association PR spin departments. There is no such thing any more called social housing with its claimed social ethos or social purpose and similar charitable benevolence labels upon which they rely for reputational marketing purposes as the NO DSS practices reveal and obviate. It is a charade, a chimera, a farrago and a myth that sees innumerable numbers of ignorant sycophantic expert organisation willing and financially dependent upon continuing that myth which includes the 50 think tanks and other organisations who asserted that the UC uplift must continue without thought to the consequences I outline here.

As I write, in February 2021, the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift will have directly resulted in over one million men, women and children put in abject rent poverty due to the uplift. It takes 276,243 households at the 3.62 persons (adults and children) per OBC-capped household average to place one million into such abject Rent poverty and we are at that point now as 15,000 households per month were newly capped from April to August 2020 and a figure that will likely triple to 45,000 newly capped OBC households per month as the 9 month grace period which exempts the millions of renters who have lost their jobs at the start of the pandemic kicks in.

It will be the end of May 2021 when those figures will be published for the end of February 2021 and we cannot wait until the political flak they will create hits to do something. We have to now, today, either abandon the overall benefit cap policy or increase its cap limit to £30,000 pa to represent the £28,600 it should and would be if it was index-linked in real CPI terms from its 2013 starting point. [Note too it needs to be inflated by CPIH not just CPI to reflect inflation-busting rent rises in social housing already agreed by government which exacerbates rent and actual poverty!]

We also have to abandon the Affordable Homes Programme and outlaw the affordable (sic) rent regime it spawned and convert all affordable rent properties back to social rent levels immediately and if that sees those SRS landlords who operate AR bleating over how much this will cost then they only have themselves to blame for being innumerate, asocial and greedy in the first place.

For those of who that simply believe the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift must be a good thing you need to think again as no policy, least of all social security benefit policy, acts in a theoretical superficial vacuum and this policy will directly place well over a million men, women and children in abject poverty. My best guess is by the end of March 2021 the uplift will see 320,000 more households hit by the overall benefit cap which is 1.16 million men, women and children compared to April 2020 when this uplift began. To continue with the uplift is dangerous madness if the OBC and AR policies are not abandoned and the consequences are an outrage that all of the usual suspect ‘experts’ very negligently fail to see

Scrap the £20pw Universal Credit ‘uplift.” (Short Version) Yes I am being serious!!

The £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit from April 2020 directly places one million more men, women and children in poverty and at acute risk of homelessness! That can’t be right can it? Yes it is and here I say why.

I am not being sensationalist or contrarian I am detailing why the £20 per week uplift does more harm than good to those it aims to help and its continuation should not take place UNLESS the overall benefit cap policy is scrapped.

By August 2020, the latest Overall Benefit Cap (OBC) figures released, a further new 90,000 households had their welfare income deducted by the overall benefit cap policy with the average OBC-capped household size is 3.62 persons per household so once 276,243 households are capped and 200,000 more than before the £1,040 per year UC uplift began it means one million more men, women and children are directly placed in real poverty by the pernicious overall benefit cap policy.

It is 7 February 2021 and more than 5 months after the latest official data of end of August 2020 and I maintain that a further 150,000 households will be capped making 318,000 households in total caped and they are cautious figures unfortunately, and for reasons I now explain.

The way the OBC operates is £20 more per week in other benefits means the maximum amount of housing benefit receivable reduces by £20 per week. The policy is zero-sum and deliberately reduces housing benefits as its first point of call and is thus designed to create eviction and homelessness in the offensive way it operates.

The 90,000+ new households capped and having their monthly benefit income reduced by £274 and £3,288 per year is in one way very surprising.

  1. IF the household previously worked for 12 months before losing their job which is common in this pandemic then they are OBC exempt for a 9-month grace period.
  2. IF the household contains an adult or child in receipt of ESA / UCLCW (incapacity) or DLA / PIP (disability) benefits they are also OBC exempt.
  3. IF the household has an adult working 16 hours per week at national minimum wage they are also OBC exempt

The 90,000+ increase in households capped means that none of the above three points was present is the surprising issue.

An unknown number as yet will have had this 9-month grace period and so will not have been OBC capped. It means those households who lost their jobs before end of April 2020 are now outside this 9-month grace period and will be capped. I suspect at least 2 households will have ‘enjoyed’ this grace period to every household that didn’t and probably more yet this means a further 45,000 per month will have been capped in September, October, November, December and January adding a cautiously estimated 225,000 new households added to those OBC-capped since the end of the latest data – a figure that would be a total of 393,394 renting households capped by end of January 2021 seeing the OBC policy directly place 1.42 million men, women and children in poverty and at acute risk of eviction and homelessness due to the OBC directly and firstly targeting housing benefits.

The OBC policy is the problem due to its zero sum nature and the fact it’s cap or limit is 42% lower in real terms (24% in London) than when it began its national rollout in October 2013. Then it was £26,000 per year and now it is £23,000 in London and £20,000 er year in the rest of the UK.

IF the OBC cap had been index-linked (CPI) the cap limit would be £28,423 per year today and would increase to £28,566 in April 2021 – UNLESS the OBC cap is increased to £28,566 per year from April there is no point in continuing with the £20 per week UC uplift in simple yet offensive terms. The other option is to scrap the OBC policy altogether yet both these only options are highly unlikely.

For now and in conclusion I am just putting the figures out there as we have the usual hyperbole from the usual sources saying the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift must continue and must and can only be a good thing. The figures above reveal this not to be the case at all and only reveal the superficiality and abject moralism that so many give to the reality of benefit issues and how they affect low income households and how such advocates either conveniently or ignorantly miss out the facts. Nothing new there then!

When new OBC data emerges I will detail how the policy means that in 2021 it is a case of no job no home and how every social not just private landlord will be operating No DSS practices as standard as this is what the policy has always meant and the pandemic and recession has hastened this on.

Let’s end the 1.2 million homeless in England each year. Minimum 791,000 properties needed pa (pre-pandemic)

The only way to end homelessness is to know what you are trying to end…

Until we recognise and accept that England has a minimum 1.2 million homeless men, women and children each year in 790,000+households then there is no point endeavouring to end homelessness. Those numbers are pre-pandemic by the way.

Homelessness is the absence of a permanent home that is home-less and so includes not just the 50,000 rough sleepers per year who are roofless but also 230,000 in families who are in temporary homeless accommodation in hotels and B&Bs, the 100,000 per year who reside in England’s 40,000 homeless hostel rooms, all those who reside at domestic abuse refuges each year, and the 820,000 men, women and children who ‘sofa surf’ in 541,000 houses belonging to other people – and many other homeless cohorts.

In July 2020 the authoritative English Housing Survey for 2018/19 released this:

IF, as the orthodox prevailing narrative says the provision of housing is the key to ending homelessness, THEN detailing the numbers of homeless households is imperative to formulating any solution. For example all of the single homeless households require and are entitled to a 1-bedded property so scoping how many single homeless households England has each year directly translates to a need for the same number of one-bedded property supply in order to end single homelessness.

Single Homeless Households

  1. The English Housing Survey for 2018/19 published in July 2020 revealed that England has 386,000 single homeless households referred to as sofa surfers who live as lodgers and thus in a perpetual state of homelessness as they can be evicted in seven days. The rehousing and escape from homeless need is therefore 386,000 1-bedded properties per year for sofa surfing single homeless households (who contain 464,000 persons as single household means individuals and childless couples)
  2. England has 40,000 or so single homeless hostel rooms and each sees a new resident every 146 days at a best estimate. This means there are 2.5 homeless residents per room per year thus 100,000 per year all requiring a one-bedded property. (Scotland is the only place where average length of stay is recorded and at 97 days or 3.76 residents per hostel room per year which if applied to England’s 40,000 hostel rooms would equate to 151,000 each year so my 100,000 best estimate figure is very cautiously low.)

Just the two above examples of single homeless households gives a yearly need in England for 486,000 x 1 bed properties to rehouse single homeless persons and allow them to escape the pernicious state of homelessness.

Before I detail the single homeless need in greater detail the official data (EHS2020) reveals that England’s social landlords supply just 13,000 properties per year to the category of “single homeless” and which equates to 2.7% of the demand and does not meet the demand of 97.3% of the single homeless households England creates each year.

Crisis, Moving On report 2017 citing official 2015/16 data from SDR returns from SRS landlords

England has some 50,000 rough sleepers per year. Some 35% of all women who enter refuges are childless and thus single homeless and also entitled to a one-bedded property as are many other single homeless cohorts such as care leavers, those in night shelters and so on.

A very cautiously low estimate is England’s system creates at least 150,000 single homeless households each year additional to the 386,000 homeless sofa surfing households meaning England each year has a need for way in excess of half a million 1 bedded properties just for single homeless households.

I restate England’s SRS landlords deliver up just 13,000 properties for single homeless per year and barely meet 2% of the demand.

The structural context of ending homelessness is starkly revealed – as even if you wholly ignore the sofa surfing households we find England’s SRS landlords meet at most 9% of the yearly demand (13k of 150k) and this further exposes the social rented sector as an insignificant bit-part player in terms of ending homelessness and the private rented sector as the overwhelming provider of the escape from homelessness.

Homeless Families

These come with differing sized households yet all of them translate to a rehousing / escape from homeless housing need of at least a 2 bed property and in many cases larger sized rehousing properties. The same English Housing Survey published July 2020 reveal England has 155,000 sofa surfing family households which at the average 2.3 persons per household is 357,000 men, women and children residing as precarious lodgers that can be evicted and homeless in a weeks time.

It also means the notion that a sofa surfer is just a single person actually kipping on someone else’s sofa is an absurd misnomer of a label as I have yet to see a sofa that can accommodate a sleeping family! (A new line given the demand from SRS or DFS anyone?)

I make no apologies for my apparent flippancy here as the term sofa surfer denotes a single person and a younger person too and chronically misrepresents the reality and precarity of those who lodge in someone else’s home.

England also has 100,000 homeless households languishing in temporary homeless accommodation (each containing 2.3 persons so 230,000) provided by local authorities. At this point we find England’s homeless population as:

  • 150,000 single homeless persons in hostels, refuge and rough sleepers
  • 464,000 single homeless persons as ‘sofa surfers’
  • 357,000 family homeless persons who sofa surf
  • 230,000 family homeless persons in TA arranged by local councils

This totals 1.2 million homeless persons and in 791,000 households and are cautiously low projections of the English homeless total per year. In order to end homelessness in England we therefore need 791,000 newly available properties each and every year (pre-pandemic.)

Note too that the figures are all pre-pandemic projections and the number of homeless households is bound to increase significantly and ADD to these numbers of England’s homeless count.

  • In May 2020 the District Council Network projected 174,000 existing HA tenant households to be made homeless and 98,000 existing council tenant households – 272,000 existing SRS households containing 626,000 men, women and children.
  • In July 2020 Shelter projected 228,000 existing PRS tenant households would be made homeless and a further 525,000 men, women and children.

These projections add a further 1.15 million homeless persons and were estimated on very early pandemic issues which have gone on far longer than expected so these projections of a further 1.15 million homeless persons in England are very probably underestimates too!

Returning to my opening sentence – The only way to end homelessness is to know what you are trying to end …. and we pay shocking lip service to the actual numbers of homeless in England. Until we face the reality of the scale of English homelessness, and even when we finally do, there is not a hope in hell’s chance that we can end homelessness given the structural and systemic crises in undersupply of suitable housing.

This is not even THE most important aspect in reducing homelessness which is support not bricks and mortar but that’s for another post another day …

‘Social’ as in housing is a failure and merely a marketing gimmick and myth

As England’s social landlords do NOT rehouse 91% of England’s single homeless households and do NOT rehouse 98% who have fled domestic violence and abuse then why the hell do we call them SOCIAL?

The misnamed social rented sector (council and housing association landlords) or SRS provide 13,000 properties per year to single homeless households when England has a cautious estimate of 150,000 each year – 8.7% are rehoused by SRS and over 91% are not. An unchallenged report in early 2020 stated just 2% of domestic abuse survivors, those who had fled domestic abuse to refuges, were offered a social housing property.

So why do we call and label them as social when these landlord DO NOT provide housing to those who are arguably most in social housing need? Why do we blithely accept and never challenge the beneficent adjective of social when placed before housing, landlord, ethos or purpose? The facts reveal they are not social at all under any definition of that word AND those facts are clear and unambiguous evidence of failure not just failings.

SRS blurb, spiel and propaganda emphasises they are ‘social’ and they will always rehouse those most in housing need and they trade on this premise which facts reveal to be deceitful. SRS landlords have proven over decades not just years that they are happy to let the private rented sector (PRS) landlord rehouse those who are perceived as high in terms of tenancy risk, such as single homeless and domestic abuse survivors.

The Victorian social reformer Octavia Hill is cited as the Mother of Housing Associations and the Chartered Institute Of Housing names its offices Octavia House and Women who had trained under Hill formed the Association of Women Housing Workers in 1916. This later changed its name to the Society of Housing Managers in 1948. After merging with the Institute of Housing Managers in 1965, the society became the present day Chartered Institute of Housing in 1994. The CIH is a professional body for those working in the housing profession in the UK and overseas

Octavia Hill is cited ad nauseam as what social housing is all about … blah, blah, blah … and constantly referred to by ‘leaders’ in social housing and apologists for it who want to continue the myth and deceit that they are social which the facts wholly disprove.

I direct you to how much social purpose Octavia Housing now have and a news release from them in the past week that is sickening as they sought kudos and acclaim for announcing that they will (a) set aside two properties in total for those who sleep rough, and (b) set aside two properties per year for those fleeing domestic abuse. The news release states:

Octavia will give at least two people with multiple and complex needs and a history of homelessness or rough sleeping, a stable home from which to get their lives back on track. The initiative is Octavia’s second Housing First project … (and) will re-house and support two women a year

The average churn in SRS properties in England is 9.2% as social tenants stay on average just under 11 years in their homes and this means Octavia Housing will have 460 new properties available each year of the 5000 properties they manage.

  • It means Octavia Housing is seeking kudos for setting aside 0.43% of their properties per year for those fleeing domestic violence and abuse or 1 property in every 230 that become available if that is easier to comprehend.
  • In terms of rough sleepers and setting aside properties for the Housing First model which has an expectancy of a 3 year tenancy period we find 2 properties over 3 years is just 0.14% of the available properties being set aside for rough sleepers by Octavia Housing or 1 in every 700 properties that become available

Those who run Octavia Housing should not be in the sector called social housing as they have no comprehension of what ‘social’ means. The fact that they are seeking kudos and acclaim for such an offensive decision begs the question What planet are they on?

The general English picture of less than 9% of single homeless households and just 2% of domestic abuse households being rehoused by the social (sic) rented sector reveals that the word ‘social’ means nothing except marketing hype and deceit. 13,000 properties per year means SRS landlords allocate less than 4% of properties to all single homeless households, which includes around a third of women who have fled domestic abuse to refuges, single as they have no children and entitled to a one bedded property. In short 24 of every 25 SRS properties do NOT go to single homeless coshorts.

The Octavia Housing example here is not the exception but the norm and the rule and the everyday and has become a cultural norm of acceptance by those who shout and shout again that they are social at every turn. The sector is selling snake oil and allowed to seek kudos and acclaim for its pitiful performance that goes unchallanged by anyone in or out of housing, homelessness or domestic abuse. It is far easier to believe in the myth that social (sic) landlords actually give a damn

___________________________________

Housing First and rehousing rough sleepers is abject failure. Do the facts not the PR bullsh*t – IT TAKES FIVE MONTHS TO EVEN FIND A PROPERTY!

If you believe what you read …

This week Housing First Scotland are hugely patting themselves on the back for reaching 404 rough sleepers rehoused since 2019 and no evictions.  Jon Sparkes the chief executive of the homeless organisation Crisis is effusive over this yet look with objective scrutiny and we can only conclude this is chronic failure and not success at all.

Tweeted circa 6m Friday 22nd January 2021

404 roofless rough sleepers rehoused – since 2019 – so somewhere between 1 year and a day and 2 years. This begs the question of how many rough sleepers are there each year in Scotland and a few years ago Shelter (Scotland) estimated this at 5,000 per year and this figure was accepted by the Scottish Government.

The Shelter (Scotland) estimate in 2017

The best view is that the Housing First model has rehoused 404 out of 5,000 rough sleepers since 2019 though it could be 404 out of 10,000 Scottish rough sleepers in a two year period of 2019 and 2020. Let’s assume it is 5,000 which also assumes that rough sleeper numbers have not increased since the Shelter Scotland estimate and which all data reveals they have.

404 rough sleepers out of 5,000 absolute minimum rough sleepers means the Housing First model has rehoused just 8% of Scottish rough sleepers; or the same as saying the Housing First model has FAILED to rehouse 92% of rough sleepers in Scotland since 2019. That is the factual context and is failure not success.

Returns for December show that Glasgow, the city with the highest number of homelessness applications in Scotland, hit the significant 150 tenancies milestone.”

Says the official press release (here) and this deserves wider scrutiny as in 2019 Glasgow City Council decommissioned 89 homeless hostel beds so they could fund the Housing First model. That may at first appear that HF rehoused more and in their own property but it doesn’t as the 89 hostel rooms saw each occuant be rehoused or ‘moved on’ every 97 days which means the hostel system woud have rehoused 335 homeless person per year in Glasgow or 123% more than was achieved by the HF model. [(365 days per year / 97 day occupancy) x 89 hostel rooms] is the 335 per year figure.

The Housing First model needs the exact same 1-bedded property to rehouse the Housing First client as the hostel model needs to rehouse the hostel resident. Thus the Housing First model reduces the capacity of housing units needed to rehouse homeless persons to just 45% of the figure that the existing hostel resettlement model achieved … and which is repeatedly stated by the Housing First model zealots to be a failing system.

The same failing homeless hostel resettlement model provides immediate housing for 123% more than the Housing First model and it finds 123% more stable housing than the Housing First model in Glasgow.

Look a bit deeper at the official data and we find it is taking an average of 149 days to find a Housing First property for each rough sleeper!! The Housing FIRST model simly cannot find the properties and is a chronic failure even in theory let alone practice and below is the official data table

https://homelessnetwork.scot/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/HF-Scotland-Monthly-Tracker-DECEMBER-2020.pdf

We are told by the zealot devotees of the cultish Housing First model that the model is all about putting the roofless (rough sleeper / other single homeless client) into a property FIRST and without any pre-conditions to the support needs they may have. YET the properties are NOT available even for a pathfinder project across the country and the funding levels and political support every such pathfinder always brings.

The bullshit PR merchants of the Housing First model are silent on where the rough sleeper resides for the 149 days or FIVE MONTHS it takes to find a property for them!!

I fully agree that the homeless hostel resettlement model is failing and has been failing for many decades and that is primarily due not to the model but due to the unavailability of the move-on property which is (a) the final stage of the hostel resettlement model and mostly unfunded for support; yet also (b) the starting point for the Housing First model and which is attarcting suport funding.

It is a matter of huge concern that the Glasgow example reveals the extra support funding which means visiting support workers view the properties and reassures landlords is only finding 45% of that number of properties of the 3 hostel services it replaced and which did not have visiting support funding to reassure the landlords!

Glasgow and the entire Scottish Housing First model is failing despite its funding and goodwill advantages and is failing far more than the hostel resettlement model it seeks to replace , and instead we see leading figures attempting to laud performance that frankly doesn’t deserve to even be rolled in glitter given the maximum 8% figure such as Jon Sparkes of Crisis (and Crisis advise the Scottish Government on the incredibly superficial theory that is Housing First.)

On Twitter a worker within the Housing First Scotland issued the usual blame the messenger / how dare you response below. It was retweeted by only one person which was Jon Sparkes of Crisis.

I have chosen not to include the individual’s name

Reaching 404 and just 8% of just Scottish rough sleepers noting the HF model can apply to other single homeless persons is NOT a milestone, it is NOT an important milestone and it is NOT a landmark; it is just a pitiful number. It is the same hyperbolic propaganda that sets out to deliberately deceive and deflect away from the performance reality by quoting a supposed ‘big number’ and hope nobody realises what a sham that same ‘big number’ means in context.

The same sham ‘ big number’ startegy is not limited to Housing First in Scotland as just last week saw Andy Burnham adopt the same deceit when raving about the rehousing of rough sleepers using the HF model across the ten local authority area of Greater Manchester and the construct this time was GMHP – Greater Manchester Homes Partnership.

GMHP comprises the 24 largest social landlords across Greater Manchester who sought acclaim for rehousing 357 rough sleepers over the past three years. How wonderful this is blah, blah, blah. Yet crunch the numbers and this means 119 rough sleepers rehoused each year and between 24 large social landlords .

The average is each large and purportedly social landlord rehoused just five (Yes 5) rough sleepers each each year. The acclaim and success was in fact abject failure and extremely pitiful. That is not subjective opinion but objective fact borne out by using the most basic arithmetic you can use.

This Guardian piece is a shameful polemic and that is being tactful. It is the most biased panglossian and deceitful article I have read in many a year and that is saying something!

Despite the early scepticism, the GM Homes Partnership has gone on to be one of the UK’s most successful homelessness projects, with 356 long-term rough sleepers given a roof over their head. Three years on, 281 (79%) of those are still accommodated, 45 have started employment or training, 133 have received help for their mental health and 97 have accessed drug or alcohol services.

The article itself gives the figures of 356 over three years and between the 24 largest and purportedly social landlords in Greater Manchester and eulogises how wonderfully successful this scheme has been! It is a sickening piece and not just because it reveals the returns that investors are making on the rehousing or rough sleepers …

Aside from this Social Impact Bond revealing that investors are making money out of rehousing rough sleepers of £5,000 after 18 months (£500 initial then 3 bonuses of £1,500 each) it also means that this financial imperative is for the so-called social landlords to cherry pick rough sleepers who will present the least problems to tenancy failure so that ‘investors’ maximise their return!!

The 24 largest and purportedly social landlords who form the GMHP all claim to have social purpose coursing through their veins and they will always rehouse those most in housing need, blah, blah, blah, is exposed for the lie it has been for many years. Further exposed are the investors “who come from the local voluntary, community and social enterprise sector” as only being imbued with public and community spirit IF it makes them a few bob! The 50 SIB contracts thus far around the country have made a pretty penny for the privateers who dreamed up this extremely offensive money making scheme too!

The Greater Manchester Homes Partnership comprises; Arawak Walton, Arcon, Bolton at Home, Equity Housing Group, First Choice, ForViva, Great Places, Guinness Partnership, Irwell Valley, Jigsaw Homes, Johnnie Johnson, Mosscare St Vincents. Northwards, One Manchester. Onward, Regenda, Rochdale Boroughwide, Salix, Six Towns, Southway Housing, Stockport Homes, Trafford Housing Trust, Wigan & Leigh Homes and Wythenshawe Community Housing Group. They are the 24 large and purportedly social landlords who, on average, managed to find 5 properties each per year for rough sleepers.

It’s a roll-call of shame and they deserve to be named and shamed as between them they own and manage hundreds of thousands of houses across Greater Manchester yet on average they found not even 10 properties per month between them.

The facts are stark and shameful both in GMHP, in Scotland and in many other cases such as the Sheffield Housing First service that could not find 10 properties in an 18 month period I reported on a few years back despite oodles of funding.

ALL the facts point to one simple truth in that the so-called social landlords do not want to rehouse rough sleepers or many other single homeless cohorts in their properties. In England as I have said many times before and over many years the facts show English SRS landlords rehouse just 13,000 single homeless persons each year when England creates north of 150,000 single homeless each year. The one thing these landlords are not is social and they care not a jot about rehousing ALL single homeless cohorts which includes the one third of women who have fled domestic abuse who are single and for all domestic abuse survivors just 2% are rehoused by the fundamentally misnamed social landlords.

Yet, day-in, day-out, we are bombarded by these deceitful rabbles screaming how social they are and how much they do for ‘vulnerable’ persons and how they are imbued with social purpose and so many other vague and deceitful nonsenses. The fact they are joined in this deliberately deceitful endeavour by Johnny-come-lately politicians such as Burnham and homeless lobbies such as Crisis just serves to show these ‘leaders’ who claim to be fighting to end rough sleeping and end homelessness are no more than snake oil salesmen and saleswomen – the facts can give no other conclusion.

“Any more doubts about Housing First Jon Sparkes? I have barely touched on the facts and details above which reveal this model to be a sham that is being sold by you and others with cult like zeal and which the facts prove can never possibly work in England or in Scotland as the needed properties simply do not exist.

Dear Jon Sparkes given the facts reveal it takes 149 days on average for Housing First in Scotland to find a property for a rough sleeper then please advise when you are going to rename it as Housing 5 months after you first contact?

The structural and systemic homeless crises in England and why banning no fault eviction will make them worse

England has 50,000 rough sleepers each year and another 100,000 single homeless reside in homeless hostels and domestic abuse refuges. A further 386,000 single homeless households sofa surf each year according to the English Housing Survey published in July 2020. 

ALL of these 500,000+ single homeless households need a one-bedded property to begin the ESCAPE from the precarious state of homelessness. I say ‘begin’ as a property can only ever solve rooflessness but not homelessness and a majority of homeless cohorts will need support to be able to make the journey out of homelessness- and there is no right whatsoever to support funding in England, but let’s leave that for another day and concentrate on rehousing supply.

The need for England to find over half a million one-bedded properties each year just for single homeless households is borne out by the facts of the various single homeless cohorts yet the real scale of the problem is starkly revealed when official data says England’s social landlords allocate just 13,000 properties per year to single homeless cohorts.

When demand for over 500,000 per year is met by supply of just 13,000 per year the proverbial hits the fan.  It means England is reliant upon the private rented sector to rehouse those who are by definition most in housing need. It means the social rented sector is a tiny bit-part player in addressing single homeless housing demand and will remain so for decades.  It means, most notably of all, that England will never end homelessness. 

The numerical facts also demolish the many myths and shibboleths such as social landlords will always rehouse those most in housing need. It further means social (sic) landlords have never rehoused those most in housing need for decades and largely as councils never built one-bedded properties for anyone other than the over 55s and sheltered housing. So many more longstanding myths about the efficacy and performance of the social rented sector are demolished with the numerical facts, far too many to mention, and it is suffice to say England is in the shit with a massive systemic problem of how single households can possibly ESCAPE the state of homelessness.

What’s more the numerical facts stated above are all pre-pandemic numbers and they will all increase in 2021 as a result of the pandemic through greater evictions, much greater job losses and greater relationship breakdowns among other reasons.  The rehousing and thus escape from single household homelessness in England is not a crisis it is a systemic catastrophe many years in the making and the pandemic has merely brought about its awareness and hastened the clusterf*ck that was always going to happen.

The leading actors in homelessness do not want to recognise these numerical facts in case they are blamed for pitiful past performance and they are all in acute defensive mode conjoined with absurd levels of hope over theoretical models such as Housing First that it entirely dependent on the availability of the one-bedded property; and with absurd assertions that Everyone In ‘almost’ solved rough sleeping when it increased by 127% from the end of March to end of November 2020 as even government figures show.

Until all homeless actors wake up and smell the coffee as to the scale and numbers of single homelessness and abandon the perverse levels of hyperbolic hope and lie they habitually state and promote, the systemic and structural homeless catastrophe that England has today will get measurably worse.

When we deduce from facts we have a chance of formulating policies as solutions.  When we ignore the facts we fail to see the problem so any solution formulated simply does not and cannot work.  Who provides the ESCAPE from single homelessness is a classic example. 

For the sake of argument leave aside the homeless sofa surfing households and England has 150,000 single homeless rehoused each year of which the social rented sector rehouses just 13,000 and 8.7% – which means the private rented sector rehouses and provides the escape from homelessness for 137,000 per year and 91.3% of single homeless households. 

The PRS doesn’t just rehouse over 90% of all single homeless it rehouses 98%  from domestic abuse refuges as the SRS, the so-called social sector, rehouse just 2% – yes that does say TWO PER CENT! 

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/feb/05/vast-majority-women-domestic-violence-nowhere-to-go

The context of this is best seen with the clamour to ban no fault evictions expected to be law later this year.  No fault evictions are abhorrent yet in practice this change in law will see PRS landlords take flight from rehousing those with high and higher perceived risks and which means single homeless persons and those from refuges.  The banning of NFE once enacted creates a much higher cost of getting rid of tenants and a lengthier time period so all landlords – including housing associations that also operate NFE with the use of AST and starter tenancies – will be far more circumspect on whom they accommodate in the first place.

The numbers reveal if the PRS takes just 10% flight they will rehouse 13,700 fewer each year and those 13,700 will then need to be rehoused by the only other alternative the SRS landlords who will then need to rehouse more than double the numbers they do now from 13,000 to 26,700 which they do not have the capacity to do.  Homelessness will increase massively when the banning of NFE becomes law yet this obvious and inevitable impact Shelter, Crisis, opposition and government MPs simply fail to see. As hostels and refuges can’t move existing residents out they can’t take new residents in leading to much higher rough sleeping and domestic abuse numbers is just one hugely adverse but inevitable impact of banning no fault evictions.

My earlier comments on England’s need to create policy from facts and which correctly scope the problem, in this case that England is heavily reliant on the PRS to provide the escape from homelessness and that the SRS do not do this is prescient with the proposal to ban no fault evictions which is policy made in a vacuum that will only increase homeless, rough sleeper and domestic abuse numbers. It is superficial and dangerous madness to ignore the facts and the context yet that is precisely what those clamouring to ban no fault evictions need to recognise.

What is so right in moral terms – the banning of the abhorrent no fault evictions – is revealed to be as superficial a clamour as it gets.  The much more risk averse this will make PRS and HA landlords will affect all prospective tenants not just those who are homeless or have fled domestic abuse.  Landlords will impose far more stringent affordability and background checks on all prospective tenants and which is another cost to be borne by tenants.  Many more prospective tenants will be refused allocation of properties that pre banning NFE they would have been allocated.

Banning NFE and gneral needs / mainstream tenants?

Many other knock-on effects flow from this.  When PRS landlords refuse more tenants it means that increases the demand on social landlords to rehouse and the waiting lists / registers for social housing will increase significantly.  It means every social housing property that becomes available to rent will have many more applicants.  Add this to the increased demand for rented housing that is due to the millions of job losses that the pandemic creates and the length of time waiting for any rented housing increases which means more will need temporary homeless accommodation too.

In short, the banning of no fault evictions while entirely moral will create huge adverse changes for all renters in the PRS and SRS as a direct and very foreseeable consequence. It will make renting far more difficult as a systemic change and there will be no going back on ever more stringent affordability and background checks for all prospective tenants.

Let’s have a look at the pesky numbers, those damn inconvenient facts that are irrefutable and you see just how much of a dangerous madness the banning no fault evictions is for the general needs renter. 

In England the PRS has over 5 million rented properties with an average duration of 4 years which means circa 1.3 million private rented tenancies are created each year and every one of those tenancies will see prospective tenants have far more in-depth affordability tests and background checks by landlords.  A further quarter of a million housing association properties become available each year as well and in 2018/19 over 70% of new HA tenancies in official figures were the ‘starter tenancy’ – an assured shorthold tenancy and the same tenure that can be ended by a no fault eviction.

One and a half million renters in mainstream general needs housing are going to face much more investigation into their backgrounds and much more stringent affordability testing as landlords become acutely more risk averse due directly to the banning of no fault eviction – the policy that in moral vacuum terms is indefensible.  The amorality of NFE however is matched by a realism that it is guaranteed to create increased rough sleeping, more homelessness, more domestic abuse and a substantial increase in the demand for social rented housing by general needs tenants many of whom will not be accommodated. 

Where will this latter cohort live if they are judged to be too risky for a social housing tenancy?

That question is known as the stating of the bloody obvious yet today it is a question that has not been asked by those who fervently advocate the banning of no fault eviction which include the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, Shelter, Crisis, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Generation Rent, innumerable think tanks and housing activists of every description and so many purportedly left-wing campaign groups.

All of these additional background and affordability tests on prospective tenants will cost more for landlords and will without doubt filter through into increased rent levels just as the local housing allowance (LHA) payments are about to be frozen once again which means a greater gap between the amount of housing benefit that is payable in LHA or UC and the gross market rent level leading to even more arrears evictions in the PRS as another systemic consequence of the madness of banning no fault eviction.  Yes I will repeat and repeat just how indefensible in moral terms evictions are without reason or tenant fault but that changes nothing in real terms.

In England we never use numeric fact to scope the status quo in housing or homelessness and its leaders who claim to be expert rely on myth, assumption and what they can sell in the simplest superficial terms rather than look at what the numbers say. Some, but far from all, I have detailed above. 

It is about time they did.

_____________________________

NOTES

  1. The 50,000 low estimate of rough sleepers in England each year see here my September 2020 article updated with NAO confirmation January 2021
  2. The 100,000 is also a low estimate of other single homeless is primarily residents in the 40,000 homeless hostel rooms each spending 21 weeks (151 days ) on average residency. So each of the 40,000 hostel rooms have 2.41 occupants per year or 96 – 97,000single homeless hostels residents per year. Very cautious estimate as Scotland is the only country to record hostel length of stay and which is 97 days per resident. One third of women who enter refuges are another single homeless cohort as they are childless and the 100,000 figure per year is easily reached.
  3. The 386,000 single homeless sofa surfing households (individuals and couples and both qualify for the one bedded property) is from official figures in the English Housing Survey released July 2020.
  4. General needs new renters per annum at 1.5 million is again a cautious estimate. PRS in England has 5.2m properties each with average residency of 4 years (EHS) ths circa 1.3 million new PRS tenancies per year. Housing associations have a low figure of 250,000 new tenancies per year – and all 1.5m+ will be subjected to more stringent affordability and back ground and credit checks post banning of NFE. The added landlord cost at start and end of tenancies will have to be passed on to renters in higher rents and with LHA being frozen that will also lead to increased homeless levels too.
  5. The 13,000 SRS yearly allocations to ‘single homeless’ is found in SDR (Statistical Data Return) and thus an official figure generated by SRS landlords
A chart from EHS report released July 2020

December 2019 Crisis estimate of ust 71,400 sofa surfers for all UK (!!)
Crisis “Moving On” report 2017 citing official housing data for 2016/17 – https://www.crisis.org.uk/ending-homelessness/homelessness-knowledge-hub/housing-models-and-access/moving-on-improving-access-to-housing-for-single-homeless-people-in-england/

Is shared housing the solution to the SRS homeless ‘rehousing crisis?’

England’s social landlords provide 13,000 properties per year to single homeless households.  England has 150,000 single homeless households excluding the 386,000 single homeless sofa surfers England has each year but including 50,000 rough sleepers.

Those two facts of 13k social landlord supply and 150k single homeless demand reveal that social landlords are tiny bit-part players in any solution to homelessness in England.  Social (sic) landlords have been bit-part players for decades when it comes to providing the bricks and mortar which begins the escape from homelessness.

They provide less than 10% of all properties to the 150,000 single homeless households (excluding sofa surfers) and they provide just 2% of properties to those who have fled to a domestic abuse refuge then how do they get away with branding themselves as social landlords?

Social as in social purpose or social ethos means that trope these landlords often state such as we will always house those most in housing need as we have social purpose or a social ethos.  The facts reveal landlord claims to be ‘social’ is a known lie from these landlords and known because these figures and meagre percentages have been consistent for years if not decades. 

Why do SRS landlords deliver so few single homeless properties?

In practical terms three-quarters of all SRS properties are 2 bed or larger and thus not available to single homeless households who qualify for a 1 bed property.  Of the 25% that are 1 bed SRS properties the majority are reserves for sheltered housing that is those over the age of 55.  The best estimate is that England’s SRS landlords have 22 – 24,000 1 bed properties that become available each year for those aged up to 54. 

Why this is the case is that the vast majority of England’s SRS properties today, managed by councils, ALMOs or housing associations, were built between 1950 and 2010 and built at the whim of local councils very subjective version of ‘housing need’ that broadly meant family sized housing and not the 1 bed property for those of (broadly) working-age.  Today’s SRS landlords have inherited this situation by inheriting council built properties mostly built in this post-war period.

This problem has been known for decades in the field of homelessness and called the ‘move-on’ problem.  In short if there is nowhere for hostel residents and the one third or more of refuge residents who are single to move TO then they cannot be moved OUT.  The other obvious consequence is if you can’t move OUT existing residents from hostels and refuges then you cannot move IN any new homeless residents. This means more rough sleepers who cannot access homeless hostels and more domestic abuse victims cannot become survivors as they cannot move into refuges.

Today, due to the eviction ban being in place for many months, the situation is even more acute.  This ban does not just halt evictions it halts almost ALL housing moves involving rented housing and works just like house buying when you are in a chain situation. Even worse is the proposal to ban no fault evictions that is likely to become statute later this year.

The Private Rented Sector (PRS) provide over 90% of the bedsit / studio / 1 bedded property’s to single homeless groups.  If the single homeless number in England is 150,000 then the split is 13,000 SRS to 137,000 PRS supply.  Banning NFE makes every one of these 137,000 more risky and more likely to cost PRS landlord more to evict and to manage.  As such, the PRS landlords will take significant flight from rehousing the far more risky / far more costly single homeless cohorts.  Crunch the numbers and a meagre 10% PRS flight means the PRS rehouses 13,700 fewer single homeless persons each year which means the SRS landlords have to increase their 13,000 current total to 26,700 or more than double the number of properties they now release to single homeless households.

Above I estimated that the SRS landlords in England only have 22 – 24,000 1 bed suitable properties that become available each year so they cannot deal with a tiny 10% PRS flight from rehousing single homeless persons.  My best estimate is PRS flight could easily reach 30% once the NFE proposal becomes law and thus rehouse some 40,000 fewer single homeless persons each year.  That is based on 28 years working in the field and from much anecdotal evidence from homeless providers across the country that I advise or speak with since this NFE policy proposal was first raised by the May government in April 2019.

Why part of absurd nonsense is the belief that PRS landlords will take on far greater tenancy risk and far greater tenancy cost in continuing to rehouse single homeless persons for not a penny more in rental income?  ALL industries and ALL sectors ALL work on the basis of higher risk equals higher reward yet the policy proposal to ban no fault evictions assumes PRS landlords will take on higher risk for no higher reward!  I am personally and professionally aware of PRS landlords changing target client groups and moving away from all higher risk tenants due to the NFE proposed legislation. 

I predict before the end of 2021 that SRS landlords will come under extreme pressure from central government to reprovision their larger SRS properties into single person use properties.  Councils and housing associations will be told to sub-divide properties and to operate shared housing provision as standard.  I know from experience in the field that SRS landlords are loathe to sub-divide and to operate shared housing provision.  I see this as inevitable and also know that shared provision can work well with far lower risk than perceived and it stacks up very well financially.  Shared provision has worked very well in supported housing for decades and it can work equally well in mainstream general needs housing and in reprovisioning existing SRS properties.

As a crude example many of the ubiquitous 3 bed / 5 person SRS properties (2 double bedrooms and box-room in lay parlance) can readily and successfully be shared by two nurses or two factory workers at little cost and little risk and provide 2 x 1 bed rents which is far more than 1 x 3 bed rent across most of England.  It really can be that simple and a much better and more viable option than one HA who infamously converted many of their (73% of all properties) from 3 bed / 5 person properties to 2 bed properties by knocking down walls as a bedroom tax / overall benefit cap response.

Over the last 20 years I have developed and advised upon shared provision for supported housing purposes so I know they can work for single homeless groups and work in what is now general needs properties.  They can work for those in low paid work and for those not in employment and combinations of the two yet there is a prejudicial culture among mainstream SRS landlords that this is too risky when it is not at all. 

The progressive SRS landlords will be looking at this before they come under extreme pressure from central government to adopt shared provision.  Such reprovisioning and letting go of endemic cultural prejudices can also significantly reduce single homelessness and the criticisms of SRS landlords that their offhand and bit-part offers they now operate.