Labour housing policy dismantles the Welfare State and £200 pcm rent rises

A 1 bed social housing flat in London will increase in rent by over £2,400 a year under plans set out by Labour yesterday. This is the genuinely affordable rent (GAR) that John Healey mentions repeatedly in his Green Paper. 

We only have the figures for London and not for the rest of England of this so-called genuinely affordable rent or GAR model as this is the only place it is currently operated in the Mayor of London housing plan I discussed in July 2017 here and which contain the figures.

GAR is a sham today and will always be a sham as Labour housing policy under John Healey favours the landlord not the tenant and Corbyn must do the right thing and replace him as Shadow Housing Minister.

It means 345,150 social housing tenants in England will face rent increases each year as all new tenancies become the GAR which becomes the target rent and this is of huge significance as it means never again will we see the social rent or SR model that has always been the norm in social housing.

A Labour housing policy is doing away with the 1948 Welfare State housing provision and principle!

The Tory AR conversion policy that social landlords have been practising (102,000 in 5 years) sees the tenant leaving a property who was paying the social rent level (SR) leave for whatever reason and the following week the exact same property has a new tenant but is charged 44% more in rent by having the property ‘converted’ to the affordable rent or AR level. A practice that incentivises the so-called social landlord to evict for financial gain.

John Healey was rightly aghast at this practice yet he has replaced it with something that is worse as all new tenancies issued by social landlords are at the genuinely affordable rent as his GAR becomes the target rent.

The average tenure in a social housing property is 11.3 years for a churn of 8.85% (see EHS 1.17) the churn being the percentage of new tenants per year. The 3.9 million social housing properties in England thus see 345,150 new tenants per year and who will all be charged this genuinely affordable rent level. Labour will thus increase rents for 345,150 social tenants each year

Genuinely affordable rent John Healey?

You are either a bigger buffoon or bigger charlatan than any and every Tory housing minister in living memory.

You are a shame to the Labour movement and proved your ultra right-wing leanings go further than Blairism and as far as dismantling the 1948 Welfare State.

Truly, truly offensive!  

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John Healey’s housing policy will guarantee Labour LOSE the next election … In solidarity Mr Corbyn!

With ‘friends’ like John Healey who needs enemies Jeremy Corbyn?

Just one of the questions when looking at the Labour Party housing policy released today by John Healey the housing minister, a noted Blairite who voted for Yvette Cooper in the leadership election and noted friend of the modern-day housing associations who are very much a Blairite product.

Dear social tenant would you rather pay £2 billion per year more in rent over and above inflation per year (the Conservatives policy of CPI inflation+1% rent rises) or pay £2.5 billion per year over and above inflation which is the John Healey / Labour policy detailed today of CPI + 1.8% rent increases?  Yes that is what the policy means and it favours the landlord over the tenant

Oh and the Labour Party will also suspend the right to buy – a great idea – yet of course taking this ‘right’ away along with Labour charging you more in rent is what the media will focus upon to discredit Corbyn! As I said Mr Corbyn who needs enemies when you have friends like John Healey!

Are you happy Mr Corbyn that John Healey says just 11,500 social housing properties have been converted (sic) to the affordable rent level that is 44% higher on average as a result of Tory policy? You shouldn’t be as it is at least 20,000 properties per year that social tenants (aka voters) have been screwed out of with 44% rent increases by this policy.

Now why would John Healey deliberately understate the Tory policy (and social landlord practice) by halving the real figure Mr Corbyn?

Why would John Healey base his new genuinely affordable rent level on 41% of social tenants NOT receiving housing benefit when the true figure is 27%?

Yes the central theme of your 44 page long Housing Green Paper and policy Mr Corbyn released today by John Healey is his view of what is a genuinely affordable rent level … and you will recall he first used this to describe the London rent level of Sadiq Khan which proved to be between 14% and 52% higher than the normal social rent level … and that’s with £60k subsidy per property too! 

Anyone would think, Mr Corbyn, that John Healey is planning a Blairite / Prospect coup against you with his version of Labour housing policy! Perish the thought as that would surely be conspiracy theory now wouldn’t it!? Ahem!!

labour housing green paper

PS Who decided on the Stalinist housing architecture that adorns the cover of the Green Paper?

To adopt a less sarcastic tone and a decidedly serious one, if Jeremy Corbyn does not get rid of John Healey and his very right-wing Blairite housing policy then there is not a hope in hell’s chance of Labour winning the next election given the huge importance of UK housing on the political agenda. That is the rub.

This John Healey housing policy released today actually favours social (sic) landlords over social tenants and of that there is no doubt so  …. Would you rather have 25,000 or so social housing staff voting for you Mr Corbyn or around 6 million social tenants of voting age who live in social housing?

John Healey’s housing policy greatly appeals to those working in housing and greatly angers the 6 million tenants of voting age who live in social housing. He is as toxic as the Tory housing policies we have now and he has to go if you have any ambitions to be Prime Minister. It really is that simple and that binary and that is not sarcasm but cold hard reality.

ALL of Labour’s policies will be scrutinized to death by the unfriendly media in the UK and the slightest ‘flaw’ will become the greatest mountain not a molehill and favouring the council and housing association landlord over the tenant is a shameful policy.

Paragraph 14 of the Green Paper lauds the Capita Economics report of a few months back that called for rent rise in social housing of CPI inflation plus a further 1.8% on average across the UK plus restoring capital grant that the Tories have withdrawn. The Tories sneaked out that their plans for the social rent formula on the day before Good Friday and will see CPI+1% rent rises for 6 million voters who live in 4.4 million UK social housing properties.

para 14 capita economics

It is not surprising that John Healey lies this as he has engaged Steve Hilditch as his primary housing consultant on Labour Housing Policy. The same Steve Hilditch who is a governing body member of the SHOUT campaign who commissioned the Capita Economics report – a governing body that is made of of the great and the good of social landlords …. shock horror!! … and who are lobbying for inflation plus 1.8% rent increases for council and housing association tenants – which is higher than existing Tory policy and plans!!

I am very sure that Jeremy Corbyn realises he is being set up to fail by his housing minister and being set-up because he and John McDonnell rightly know that the only way to solve the TWO leading issue of the UK housing crisis, of under supply and truly genuinely affordable housing, is to embark on a mass council housebuilding programme … which of course exposes that housing associations are mere bit part players in this area and as the Green Paper says don’t build more than 30,000 houses or 10% of the 300,000 needed per year.

Yet we also see the LGA wanting councils and council landlords (two very separate actors here) to have the extra revenue that the housing associations have enjoyed with the affordable rent programme of the Tories and why the LGA and their ALMO variants co-commissioned the same Capita Economics report. Council landlords want the extra rent income that the Tories have bought off the housing associations with, and councils without any housing stock are scurrying apace to set up local Housing Companies – private landlords wholly owned by councils – to get this added rent from the social tenants.

ALL landlords who comprise the misnomer called social housing, all council and housing associations variants, want to shaft the 6 million strong voters known as the social tenants with ever higher rent levels … and John Healey is only too happy to oblige them all with this Green Paper as it will expose Corbyn to huge vitriol over Labour’s housing policy that shafts the 6 million voters in social housing more than the Tories have since 2010.

Will the last person out switch off the street lights they sleep under due to Corbyn’s housing policy is a variant of the headline that a so-called newspaper I wouldn’t wipe my backside on once issued and will use again. That is the clear intention of this truly offensive Labour Party housing policy Mr Corbyn and from John Healey and his friends in the social housing sector.

Corbyn and McDonnell share the same housing goal as the Tories in one glaring way. They want increased home ownership as it is the same Keynesian multiplier theory that home owners buy more goods and services and spend more as the Keynesian multiplier theory behind a mass council housebuilding programme.

More tax collected and less welfare spend because people are working not idle and a greater percentage of UK housing stock is really really really affordable so they can spend more of their income on many other expenditure items in real confidence and not in fear of them and their children being evicted and homeless.

Yet that means mass council housebuilding and if every local council built 365 properties per year or 1 per day on average it is the 151,000 or 50% of the 300,000 new houses each year the country needs. Every £1 less spent on rent is £1 more to be saved for a mortgage deposit and thus greater council housing at a social rent level creates MORE UK home owners not less as it maximises the opportunity for every citizen.

Yet that would see housing associations sidelined to the irrelevance they truly are and would deny council landlords the greater rents they crave and deny councils who are setting up LHCs apace to take tenants for granted by shafting them for more in rent. ALL ‘social’ (sic) landlords want to shaft the 6 million social tenants who are voters for ever more in rent and regardless of how much that buggers up the national economy. They all love the John Healey housing policy Mr Corbyn because they make more money out of it by screwing the life out of 6 million people you want to vote for you!

Mr Corbyn & Mr McDonnell have been promising action against the excesses of the private landlord for many years and especially since 2015 when the generation rent type lobbies have been pushing for something to be done to stop these excesses. Where are the plans for this in this Green Paper? They are nowhere to be seen!

Is that because Corbyn and McDonnell have abandoned any such regulation and restraint of the private landlord or simply forgotten about these promises … or is it because John Healey wants social housing rents to increase so much more that there is no financial headroom left to regulate private rent levels? That is what the John Healey policy does in leaving no headroom to regulate and restrain the excesses of the private landlord rent because social rent levels are increasing too much … and increasing much more than under the current Tory plans!!!

Corbynistas have just used his hammer to hit the nail on the head of the John Healey coup and I have already said what they should do with his sickle to the head of John the Blairite if they ever want Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister.

However, much of the above is back story and the real public-facing issue will be Corbyn denies hardworking families the right to buy (blah, blah, blah) that will be emblazoned across the largely Tory friendly media. Corbyn is no friend of the hardworking tenant blah, blah, blah by taking away their right blah, blah, blah… Corbyn denies those seeking to become part of the great property-owning democracy that Glorious Leader Thatcher began … blah, blah, f*cking blah!

Anyone with the slightest modicum of housing knowledge can picture those headlines now and picture the vitriol that will come Corbyn’s way over this Healey housing policy. The Tories will repeat this ad infinitum so that the 6 million social housing tenants of voting age vote Tory in fear of losing this right. And while I agree that it is in the best interests of everyone to scrap the RTB I also believe Corbyn should (and needs to) box clever … by EXTENDING the very electorally popular RTB to all social tenants and on the same terms as those enjoyed by council tenants!

The RTB for housing association tenants was (allegedly) extended by the Tories but on a pilot basis and ONLY covers those with ten years of more of living in social housing while the original right to buy for council tenants requires just two years. Why not give every tenant the same right to buy by equalising the criteria to 5 years for council and HA tenants … and extend this RTB to private renting tenants too on the same 5 year criterion?

That may read like some deluded naïve wishful thinking but it’s not and such a policy could work and is a policy that is truly radical and one which is truly needed. It would regulate the private rented sector and restrain it and it would do the same to ALL landlords types in the misnamed social rented sector.

As would tying rent increases for ALL landlords to wage inflation and not to the landlord-friendly and tenant-shafting inflation plus x % rent increases. Under the Tories from 2010 to 2017 (the last full year figures) wage inflation was 10.8% yet private rents increased 19.8%, housing association rents increased 26.2% and council rents increased 31.6% in that time.

Just as there can never be any justification for private rents increasing at double the rate of wage inflation then there can definitely be no justification for council rents increasing by three times the rate of wage inflation which they have done! Curbing rent increases saves billions to the taxpayer in housing benefit each year and that saving could be put back into building more really, really, really affordable housing each and every year for the good of all and the good of the economy and not just for the greedy landlord in the feudal system we have had for too long.

It would also mean LESS homelessness, LESS poverty, LESS insecurity in the UK rented housing market and do so on a structural basis for our children and their children too. They would not be priced out of the home ownership route as they are now, but priced-in to it through lower rent levels meaning more can be saved.

That all sounds so radical but it isn’t at all. It is radical only in its departure from the perverse norm we have had in the UK rented housing market since Thatcher’s RTB in 1980 and it would solve not just today’s housing crises but prevent them returning again.

It would also see Mr Corbyn attract the vast majority of those 6 million voters who live now in social housing wouldn’t it Mr Healey? And with more and more of the voting population living in social housing each year who would ALL remember that the much greater opportunity they have to be a home owner was given to them by a Labour Government …. but oh dear Mr Healey your erstwhile ‘friends’ called the social (sic) landlords would not be very happy would they?

Your choice Mr Corbyn to get rid of the Blairite Brutus called Healey and develop a principled and fair housing policy based on tenant need not landlord greed to put you in Downing Street or keep him and lose spectacularly which I assure you it will if you keep this shameful housing policy released today!

For the many (6 million social tenant voters) not the few (housing landlords) Jeremy please!

Labour policy favours landlords over tenants – Mietenwahnsinn Herr Healey!!

The Labour Party has released its plans for UK housing and what they propose to do about it. Time to have a critical look at what this 44 page Green Paper says and what it doesn’t say.  It needs to rip it up and start again as a matter or urgency as it is replete with critical errors of fact and it prioritises landlords over social tenants. 

For the many not the few Mr Corbyn?  Its more Housing for the money and for the Feudal!

labour housing green paper

There is much to be welcomed in this set of proposals such as getting rid of the ‘affordable (sic) rent’ level, the freeing up of councils to borrow to build, suspending the right to buy, the recognition that housing associations are a small player and the UK housing sector can only solve the housing crisis through council housing building, and the general recognition that affordability has at least the same priority as supply in the UK housing crisis – all issues I have called for.

Yet there are a number of critical problems with this set of proposals that make up Labour housing policy and they need to go back to the drawing board as those problems are of such significance. I have been a consistent critic of Tory housing policy and Tory housing benefit policy and I always use facts and numbers to criticise both and objectively so and now it is the turn of the Labour Party – and they do need to rip up this document and start all over again because they have got so many critical facts wrong in this Green Paper.

The link between housing benefit and (genuine) affordability

The GIGO principle – garbage in garbage out – applies and I begin where every analysis of social rented housing (the key issue) must begin that of cost and affordability and very specifically on the absolutely critical link between housing costs and housing benefit and paragraph 74 begins:

Given that almost six in ten social housing tenants receive housing benefit, certainty about social security payments is crucial”

It is indeed crucial and yet the figures used in this paper are a chronic distortion and chronic understatement of the factual position that will lead to chronic consequences if Labour believes these figures and does not go back to the drawing board with the correct figures and which are easily proven to be significantly higher. 

Why the need to go back to the drawing board?

Labour intends to use this errant 59% figure as a base for what it calls ‘genuinely affordable’ rent levels and so the percentage of social tenants who rely on housing benefit to pay the rent is THE most critical piece of data for the entire Labour Party housing policy. The Green Paper is ALL about what Labour considers to be a genuinely affordable rent and how it can be designed and achieved. The Labour Party rightly admits this is THE critical issue yet they have the 59% figure so wrong that whatever the ‘genuinely affordable’ output it produces from this errant figure can only be a critically wrong rent level and thus become part of the housing problem and not a solution to it.

The critical actual figure.

IF 59% rely on housing benefit to pay their social rent then it means 41% do not rely on housing benefit. Yet as the actual figure is 73% of social tenants rely on housing benefit to pay the rent it means only 27% do not rely on it.

So when the proposed “genuinely affordable” rent is set based on the errant premise that 41% find the current rent affordable when it is 50% less than this at just 27% the genuinely affordable rent level produced is a chronic distortion – and only exacerbates the current UK housing crisis of affordability rather than addressing it. The 59% figure is an estimate only that comes from the English Housing Survey – and which is significantly wrong as the EHS figures say that 59% of social tenants receive housing benefit. That figure is drastically wrong and can easily be proven to be wrong with a cursory glance at the actual SHBE figures which state the figure is 73% and almost a quarter higher than the 59% estimate (14% higher than 59% is a 23.7% higher figure.)

The EHS figures – and why they are wrong

hb proportion EHS

The SHBE figures – the single housing benefit extract – reveal the EHS figure of 2.3 million social households claiming HB (above) to be way off as they record that there are 3,030,646 or 3.03 million social housing tenants who receive housing benefit. Then we have another 185,380 who receive its Universal Credit replacement to give not 2.3 million but 3.216 million social tenant households who receive housing benefit.

There are 4.4 million GB social tenants (2.8m HA and 1.6m council) – a figure that nobody disputes and proven to be correct by all other official housing figures – and so this 3.216 million of 4.4 million social tenants who receive housing benefit is 73% not 59% and that is THE crucial issue for social housing.

Not just pedantry –The Labour Party Green Paper relies on the social rented sector to develop at least 50% of all new housing in its plans and for them to deliver what it calls “genuinely” affordable housing and genuinely affordable to those who use and live in social housing. Yet believing that only 59% of social tenants rely on housing benefit when the true figure is a quarter more than that at 73% gives a hugely distorted view of who lives in social housing and a similarly distorted view of what is “genuinely affordable” and the Labour Party needs to go back to the drawing board and start again such is the seriousness of this wrong percentage figure.

I cannot overstate the importance of the percentage of social tenants who receive housing benefit is to ANY plans or proposals for ANY social housing policy so when any proposal is based on a hugely errant percentage figure it can only produce a chronically errant rent figure to be deemed ‘genuinely affordable’ as is the central issue of this entire housing policy. 

If you wanted to set the new price of a Mars Bar or the proverbial widget in business speak based on the premise that currently 41% could afford it when the actual figure is just 27% then you will see the number of Mars Bars bought drop hugely.  The same applies to attempting to set the Labour Party’s genuinely affordable rent level which is what this policy is all about and why the Labour Party HAS to go back to the drawing board

2.  Current affordable rent conversions?

In paragraph 64 of this Green Paper we see some truly perverse figures that again are nowhere near the actual facts of the matter and concerning affordable rent ‘conversions’ – the Tory policy that housing associations so love of the existing tenant leaving of a Friday to be replaced on the Monday with a new tenant paying 44% for the exact same property.  The Labour Party believes that just 11,500 of these occur each year when the figure is double that.  Let’s look at what the Labour Party says which is in paragraph 64:

affordable rent conversion loss

As you can see in my emphasis the Labour Party believes just 11,500 of these AR conversions happen each year and cite the usual expert suspects of CIH, Shelter and others when if they looked at the official figures from the housing regulator this is what they would see: –

conversions

A total of 102,004 AR conversions in essentially 5 years making around 20,000 AR conversions each year – and that figure is just from housing associations to which (a) we need to add council landlord AR conversions, and (b) housing and council and housing association AR conversions from Scotland and Wales.  Yet again the Labour Party figure is way off from the actual figure and this is yet again easily provable. 

The figure the Labour party is using is less than half of the actual figure and the importance here is political and politically perverse as it not only halves the Tory policy problem and says the Tory policy is half as bad as it actually is (!!!!!) but it tells me the real reason is that John Healey as Labour’s Housing Minister is avoiding blaming housing associations (and councils including Labour-run ones) for choosing to operate the AR model and it is a choice to operate AR or not, there is no compulsion to use it at all.  

That leads to the correct way to view the above paragraph 74 in a new and different light when it says “…almost six in ten social housing tenants receive housing benefit, certainty about social security payments is crucial.”  The question becomes crucial to whom – and John Healey clearly means housing benefit payments are crucial to the landlords not the tenants.  The priority for Labour is ‘social’ landlords being paid not that tenants have somewhere they can afford to live and is extremely disturbing in that priority.

I will leave further comment on this to a later date and this is more than nuance to a housing geek audience.  It is the very much Blairite John Healey imposing his version of what social housing and it rents levels should be over the wishes of both Corbyn and McDonnell and that for all Corbyn supporters seeking equity and fairness is extremely disturbing – the question of why Corbyn still has a housing minister who is as far to the right of the Labour Party as you can get and when housing is such a key policy area for Corbyn Labour is very significant indeed in political terms, and it does mean that Labour is prioritising social landlords over social tenants!

In summary anyone hoping for a radical solution to the UK housing crisis from the Labour Party will be disappointed.  Further, unless the Labour Party rips up this misguided and errant attempt to create a ‘genuinely affordable’ rent level and starts again it will be no solution to the UK housing crisis at all. Moreover, John Healey lauds a recent report by Capita Economics calling for more ‘affordable’ housing and which also said social housing rents should rise by an average of CPI inflation PLUS 1.8% per year!  My comments on that are here and show the abject greed of social (sic) landlords seeking to take a further £2.5 billion per year from social tenants. Make no mistake John Healey is only concerned with so-called social landlords and not social tenants!

Finally, this policy suggests that genuinely affordable rent level should be set at 35% of net income and compare that to the mass demonstration held last week in Berlin when thousands to the street in protest at rents being 21% of income and you realise just how much in the pocket of social landlords that the Labour Party is with John Healey as its housing minister! 

meiten

Mietenwahnsinn translates as and means rent insanity and many similar protests over rent levels have been held all over Europe and Barcelona is a good example too – the basis is we cannot afford to rent in the local area – and high rent prices caused by the combination of gentrification and state or public sector inactivity is not just a London or Edinburgh or UK problem, it is endemic to much of mainland Europe and played a huge part in the Catalan Independence movement and referendum last year. 

We have rent insanity in the UK and the so-called social landlords with 31.6% LA rent increases and HAs with 26.2% rent increases is the only country I can see with higher rents increases than the private landlord (19.8%) in England between 2010 and 2017. 

The UK rent insanity and money-grabbing is by the private landlord AND the social landlord in the UK and the Labour Party instead of tugging their forelocks and taking the side of these allegedly social landlords need to take the side of the social tenant and for economic reasons not just social or moral ones. 

Dear Jeremy Corbyn you need to go back and start all over again with Labour’s housing policies and before you do please make sure you appoint a new housing minister who is not in the pocket of the social (sic) landlords and who is not from the far right of your broad church of a Party and one who does not prioritise landlords over the people YOU need to vote for you, the social tenants.  

______________________

Actual figures on housing benefit receipt – the 3.03 million social tenants getting it

hb claimants gb nov 2017 figures

Actual figures on social tenants receiving the UC replacement for housing benefit – the additional 185,380 social tenants making the 73% total figure

uc housing costs social tenants

Affordable Rent “…a few quid more?” No it’s Bolton’s second Bedroom Tax!

In Bolton 1,941 social tenants get a £750 per year cut in the bedroom tax per year.

In Bolton, the former council landlord now called Bolton at Home charges 2449 of it tenants £750 per year more in rent through the affordable (sic) rent policy. 

Bolton at Home has therefore charged 26% more of its tenants the equivalent of the bedroom tax because … well because they can do and out of choice!

jl response large

l have been writing a lot about the affordable rent policy, a policy which allows, indeed incentivises social (sic) landlords to evict the current tenant so it can charge the new tenant so much more in rent.  The tweet above is how the chief executive of Bolton at Home seeks to justify this with oh its only a few pounds more line of argument. 

Jon, the actually amount the housing association you run charged in added AR rent in 2016/17 was £1.84 million per year.  That’s a £1.84 million increase in poverty to Bolton at Home tenants and an added £1.84 million per year risk to homelessness for Bolton at Home tenants. 

You charged:

  • £6.48 per week more for 54 one bed properties;
  • £12.58 per week more for 1,083 two bed properties;
  • £16.07 per week more for 1,267 three bed properties;
  • £18.97 per week more for 42 four bed properties; and
  • £24.03 per week more for 3 five bed properties. 

Add that up and in a year Bolton at Home charged 2449 affordable (sic) rent tenants a total of £1,836,872.51 and an average of £750.05 each more in rent.  Here is the full context of the tweeted reply by Bolton at Home:

jl bolton at home ar only coopers

A few quid difference?  – but from 2449 tenants sure adds up to a pretty penny each year doesn’t it.  £1.84 million more per year in 2016/17 and more in 2017/18 and more again in 2018/19 and each succeeding year Jon.  As you can see if you read my post here I wasn’t having a go at Bolton at Home for having the most affordable rent tenancies of all English housing associations and by some distance.  I was having a go at the claimed social purpose of claimed social landlords in operating the AR model that average 44% more in rent from the same properties and the fact it incentivises council and HA landlords to evict the existing tenant and replace with the much higher paying one the very next week. 

I labelled Yorkshire Housing – the landlords in the Channel 5 series Somewhere to Call Home – as the biggest money-grabbing b*stard HA landlord as they have 1 in 3 of their properties at this much higher AR level when Bolton at Home has 16.1% and half the percentage of Yorkshire Housing. 

yorkshire housing ar percentages

The 16.1% of general needs housing that Bolton at Home operate and charge at the higher AR level is much less than the 36.5% operated by Yorkshire Housing though it is still almost double the 8.6% English average for housing associations according to official figures (from which all the figures in this post come) and as the housing regulator figures reveal.

8point6 per cent

What Jon Lord of Bolton at Home is saying in his “only a few quid a week” comment typifies the arrogance of those who claim to be social landlords and the duplicity they have when screaming that they have social purpose

It also inherently see Jon Lord bemoan the fact that Bolton is a low private rent area and that these so-called social landlords would be able to charge their AR tenants so much more if private rent levels were higher!!  There is absolutely bugger all that is social about that and bugger all social about choosing to charge your tenants £1.84 million per year more as the affordable rent model is 100% a choice and discretionary.

Bolton at Home, like many housing associations has formed its own private landlord / lettings company too (R-Haus) as they are not content with just this ‘few quid more’ and want to charge a further 25% more by letting out their properties (yes former council housing too) at the full market rent just as many councils are also doing.  Does forming its own private landlord company reveal that Bolton at Home are not content with just this ‘few quid more’ position they are risibly claiming?  Ahem!! 

The ‘customer’ – the social tenant to me and you – is seen as fair game to shaft for as much in rent as possible by the so-called social landlords who constantly scream they have social purpose and, as I have said before and say again here, Bolton at Home is not the worst offender by far of this commercially driven screw the tenant operations and policies. 

Yet to claim that affordable rent is just a few quid more?  £1.84 million per year more just shows how little consideration housing association and other claimed social landlords give to the individual tenant, to local communities and how much they increase poverty and homelessness by their actions – noting here that these AR rent grabs come on top of way above inflation increases to all their properties as they believe they have a divine right to receive! 

F*cking over the social tenant has become so endemic to social (sic) landlords they are more correctly labelled feudal landlords. 

___________________________________ 

All of the above is NONSENSE says Jon Lord …. (spitting out his dummy) in response 

nonsense JL ar

Oh dear I appear to have upset Jon Lord as I asked him on Twitter what is this NONSENSE he claims when the figures I use above are figures supplied by Bolton at Home themselves to the housing regulator as part of the Statistical Data Return but Twitter wouldn’t let me reply …

blocked jlord

Blocked !

So a factual reporting of facts sees Bolton at Home seek to stop any form of criticism of them and criticism based on official facts provided by … Bolton at Home!!!  I wonder what customer service they give to 18,000+ households in Bolton?  and those facts supplied by Bolton at Home are ‘half baked ideology’ reader …

“Affordable?” The repugnant asocial housing association MGBs

Some housing associations are MGBs.  The MG stands for Money Grabbing and the B you can easily work out yourself.  There is a factual and objective way (rather than just a rant) to ascertain which housing associations are the biggest MGBs, or in tactful housing jargon which housing associations are the most asocial. 

They all claim to be social landlords and have social purpose coursing through their veins which they all ram down our throats at every turn in their PR spin and sophistry, yet below I cut through the vague ethereal language of social purpose and in a factual and objective way.  The results will surprise as well as name and shame. 

Affordable?

In 2011/12 the Conservative led coalition introduced the Affordable Homes Programme a policy that allowed social landlords to charge a much higher rent level than their social rent level and called ‘affordable rent.’  The average yearly rent increase from the housing association social rent level of £5502 to the newly-created affordable rent level of £7,944 was (In England) £2,442 per year and a 44.4% increase. 

I seek to avoid emotional invective as much as possible in this post but imagine if your rent or mortgage went up 44% overnight and note a ballpark figure of the higher rent charged to HA tenants in 2016/17 was over £471 million and that is just for housing association and just in England.  Around £350 million of that £471 million increase would have been paid through Housing Benefit too and makes this Conservative policy perverse in it knowingly and deliberately increases the welfare benefit budget.

The policy rationale was the £2,442 extra rent per property per year would be put in a housing association jam-jar and then used to build new housing. The policy was and still is voluntary. Some housing associations have taken this up and some have not and belatedly so have some councils. Some HA’s have dipped their toe in the water while other HA’s have gone for it hammer and tong. 

Affordable Rent – ‘Conversions’

A major problem is that the policy allows the landlord to ‘convert’ properties from the social rent level to the 44% higher affordable rent level. In short one tenant paying £100 per week in rent leaves on a Friday and the housing association puts in a new tenant on the Monday paying £144 pw in rent. That is a conversion as it is euphemistically called and 102,000 of the total 193,000 AR properties of English housing associations are these conversions. 

Thus we have a government housing policy, a voluntary policy that HAs can choose to operate or not, that is a policy that gives the social landlord a financial imperative to evict existing tenants! A morally and economically repugnant policy.

Social Purpose?

Across English housing associations the five years of the policy has seen 8.6% of all HA general needs properties (i.e. not sheltered or supported housing) now have the affordable (sic) rent level charged, a huge number and some housing associations have been taking advantage of tenants.  IF the morally reprehensible conversions were not allowed and only new build or newly acquired properties could be charged out at this misnamed affordable rent level then the average percentage would be around 4% of housing association properties.  I therefore use 4% as what I loosely term the HA average (without the morally reprehensible conversions.) 

Or put another way any housing association that does have more than 4% of its general needs (GN) stock at the affordable rent (AR) level – or GN-AR is not a social landlord but a MGB who is taking advantage of tenants. 

I make no apologies for stating some HAs are MGBs as that is precisely what they are and especially so as all housing associations trade on the basis and repeat ad nauseam that they have social purpose coursing through their veins and are full of social ethos and social responsibility and other vague terminology. Looking at who has the most of these morally reprehensible AR properties cuts through the vague and ethereal concept of social purpose and provides a factual objective basis on how to judge if your housing association does have social purpose or they are a complete and utter MGB.  

Now that we have 5 years of the official data on AR I have compiled a number of tables to see who are the most MGB housing association landlords in England and the results are surprising as well as being reprehensible and offensive. 

The most MGB / most asocial housing association? 

So let’s begin with the table of which housing association has the most affordable rent properties in a given local authority area which is Bolton at Home the former council housing department in Bolton that has 2488 of its general needs properties at the affordable (sic) rent level – the only HA with more than 2000 and only 3 other HAs have more than 1500 AR properties.   

Table 1 – Housing Associations by most AR units

ha ar shame table by number of ar

Yet Bolton at Home does not even make the top twenty of the most asocial / MGB housing associations as these 2,488 AR properties are out a total 15,196 general needs properties representing 16.1% of its general needs housing stock in Bolton or a 16.1% MGB rate.  That 16.1% rate is 4 times more than my HA average of 4% and is reprehensible yet some housing associations have more than 1 in 3 (33%!) of their general needs stock at the offensive affordable (sic) rent level and they are the real MGBs!! 

The same table above also includes the likes of Gentoo in Sunderland with 932 AR properties yet this is only 3.2% of its entire general needs stock and below the my HA average benchmark figure of 4% explained earlier.  As such (and while I believe all AR properties are wrong) Gentoo  at 3.2% and Wakefield and District Housing at 4.2% do not deserve the naming and shaming of the likes those with higher than 10% of their general needs housing stock and by any objective reckoning any housing association with more than 20% of its general needs stock being AR needs to be deeply and repeatedly shamed for the monstrous MGBs that they clearly are.

Sitting shamefully at the head of most asocial and most money grabbing b*stard table is Yorkshire Housing who are currently on Channel 5 in a 3-part series called “Somewhere to Call Home” – my emphasis – and its a bloody and deliberately expensive home from the number one MGB of the English housing association sector!

somewhere to call home

In my first table above that merely lists the amount of AR properties by number you will see Yorkshire Housing in Ryedale at number 23 in that list yet go along to the last column and you see this is a staggering 33.6% of all its general needs properties in Ryedale and more than EIGHT TIMES the HA average and a figure which bears out in Ryedale where Yorkshire Housing took over the former council housing properties.  When we sort the AR table I used above which records the list of HAs with more than 500 AR properties by the percentage of AR stock we see a very different table 

Table 2 – The REAL MGBs / Most asocial English Housing Associations

ar by % ha mgb

As you can clearly see sorting the English housing associations by percentage of AR stock of their general needs stock reveals that Yorkshire Housing come in at first and second place for their % of general needs housing stock that is let at the higher affordable (sic) rent basis and the only two cases of those Ha’s with more than 500 AR units to have more than one-third of all their general needs stock at this ‘let’s shaft the tenant’ rent level. (And no I am not letting Great Places off the hook either – see later.)

This table sorted on percentage of AR units then lead me to have a look at other areas where Yorkshire Housing have properties and a wider investigation that my first point of call which was those with more than 500 AR units in a given council area.

Table 3 – Yorkshire Housing AR stock

yorkshire housing ar percentages

Yorkshire Housing would fill 6 of the top 10 places with these truly offensive and repugnant affordable rent rates and very much the REAL MGB rates and very much the REAL most asocial housing association in England and very much the most ‘shaft the tenant fro as much as you can housing association in England.  And look at Yorkshire Housing’s highest rate of 36.5% in Wakefield and compare that to my earlier comments about Wakefield and District Housing Trust’s inclusion in Table 1 with just 4.2% of their general needs stock being AR – a tale of two very different housing associations in Wakefield.

Not just asocial but MGB?

The Wakefield comparison reveals the schism in the English housing association sector which sees some HAs dipping their toes in the murky AR pool or not getting their feet wet at all with the overtly commercial MGB policy of other housing associations of which Yorkshire Housing typifies with its frankly we haven’t got a social purpose bone in our corporate body policy that Yorkshire Housing practice.

[Note: Yorkshire Housing is not to be confused with South Yorkshire Housing Association or any other with Yorkshire in their name]

Yorkshire Housing practices the AR model of ripping tenants off as a matter or corporate policy and while I have seen little of the 3-part Channel 5 series that features Yorkshire Housing I doubt very much that the TV production company has mentioned that Yorkshire Housing is THE most money grabbing b*stard of a housing association which the facts prove and prove objectively.  Rather I suspect particularly after some Twitter noise this week over how the programme portrayed some tenants as the stereotypical scrounger that many TV poverty porn programmes always do, that they sought to portray Yorkshire Housing as angels by comparison … and a quick google search revealed what the TV production company sought to present. 

Social landlords are angels TV bullsh*t

housing yorkshire channel 5

I regularly get TV production companies contact me about a number of housing and housing-related welfare benefit policies such as the bedroom tax, overall benefit cap and so on.  I’ve appeared on a few as as my friends and indeed family have said ‘it only proves I have a great face for radio!’  This means I have a good knowledge of what the TV production companies want and the above spiel concerns the current Yorkshire Housing 3-part series (and goes on to say Michael Portillo is doing a series about council estates!!! 

The spiel above says that Yorkshire Housing are saints or more correctly their staff members are and they are counsellors and constables and there to support tenants blah blah, blah!  To be absolutely clear I have no issue with the staff at Yorkshire Housing who deal with tenants and no gripe at them.  I do however take huge issue with the corporate Yorkshire Housing. 

I also expect ALL TV production companies to play up the scrounging bastard tenant narrative as they all do because their programmes then go on to be sold to other TV and media outlets and TV production companies are there to make money.  YET as official government figures always reveal a ‘fraud and error’ rate of around 1.3% for welfare benefits and the actual fraud rate is always around 0.7% which means that 99.3% of welfare benefit recipients are not the benefit scrounging bastards that TV poverty porn programmes portray. 

Yet here we see with Yorkshire Housing a 100% corporate money grabbing bastard operation of shaft the tenant for as much as you can without a jot of care if this means they cannot heat or eat or puts them in poverty by this callous rip off the tenants policy.  But this is rent Joe which is different to welfare benefits …  oh dear! 

Rent and welfare benefits (Housing Benefit)

74% of social housing tenants across England, Scotland & Wales receive Housing Benefit to pay the rent and it is therefore a reasonable assumption that 74% of Yorkshire Housing tenants receive it too.  The issue with the AR policy is that all of the net AR rent gets paid in Housing Benefit and even when it is above the maximum housing benefit (the LHA rate) that private landlords receive.  An example of this (one of many but just to illustrate the fact) concerns Liverpool Mutual Housing and looking at a 1 bed property we find that:

  • The 1 bed social rent property with LMH has an average net rent of £70.30 per week and thus housing benefit of £70.30 is paid. 
  • The 1 bed affordable rent property with LMH has an average net rent of £102.25 per week and so housing benefit of £102.25 per week is paid. 
  • The 1 bed privately rented property in Liverpool sees the private landlord limited to £90.90 per week in housing benefit (the 1 bed LHA rate.) 

This element of the affordable (sic) rent programme reveals that the social landlord operating the affordable (sic) rent programme can receive more in housing benefit that the (‘nasty!’) private landlord and thus operating the AR policy – which I again remind is wholly voluntary – means that those housing associations (and councils) are in effect ripping off the welfare benefit bill by doing so. 

A policy for English housing associations of convert the existing social rent tenancy to an affordable rent tenancy and we get 44.4% more and the taxpayer picks up the tab in 74% of cases!!  That is why the affordable rent policy is hugely perverse and why housing associations who operate it are the real benefit scroungers not the tenants … and as I have stated and now restate to hammer it home the affordable rent ripping off of the tenant and the taxpayer is 100% VOLUNTARY thus any landlord who operates it is a MGB.   

No I haven’t forgotten about Great Places or a whole host of MGB housing associations who appear in the tables above and I will cover them all in many similar future posts about the repugnant affordable rent policy. There are so many issues to make such as how this has become structural and cultural among the purportedly social landlords who are nothing of the sort but distinctly asocial and distinctly let’s not give a stuff about tenants and keep on practising our lets suck tenants dry for as much as we can agenda. 

I also haven’t forgotten about the many surprises I said these facts reveal (e.g. why are there so FEW London housing associations in these tables???!!!) and there are many very geeky housing nuances such as why have some LSVT housing associations (those who took over council stock) gone for AR with relish yet others have not?  Or why do the MGB tables include a huge percentage of LSVT housing associations compared to other types of HA?  I could draft 20,000 words or more on the issue of affordable (sic) rent in relation to housing associations in England alone yet it wouldn’t be read and would exclude council landlords in England and some of them are AR MGBs too, this is not just a housing association issue or of HAs being private sector concerns as public sector council landlords are at it too … as are the majority of English councils who have set up devices called Local Housing Companies that are private landlords wholly owned by councils and who charge a minimum of AR levels on their properties and in many cases full market rents are charged  …

… what ALL of these have in common is that they shaft the tenant and often the tenant is THE most financially marginalised tenant on the lowest household incomes and that borders on actual financial abuse and not just abusive and repugnant and reprehensible practice of social (my arse) landlords.

_________________________

to be continued ….

Social purpose and Bridget McCann (who?) and Rigsby

Housing, strong women and In my Liverpool home …

I was born in Liverpool, down by the docks, My religion was Catholic; occupation – hard knocks.

At stealing from lorries, I was adept, and underneath overcoats each night I slept

……And its in my Liverpool home ….

When I grew up, I met Bridget McCann; she said, “You’re not much, but I’m needing a man;

I want sixteen kids, and a house out in Speke; well, the flesh it was willing, but the spirit was weak.

……And its in my Liverpool home ….

As the well-known song says we have what we tactfully call ‘strong’ women in my home city of Liverpool – plenty of Bridget McCann’s in fact – and of the seven largest housing associations in Liverpool we have 4 female chief executives and 3 male ones at the helm.

Sue Westwater at LHT keeps a low social media profile yet Julie Fadden at SLH (and who has the houses Bridget McCann wanted out in Speke), Barbara Spicer from Plus Dane and Carol Matthews at Riverside are the opposite with very high social media profiles … and who would have thought that Bridget McCann was so clever and perspicacious wanting a house out in Speke?!

What am I gibbering on about? Okay here it is and as usual I use those damn pesky things called facts to compare and contrast that much-stated and never defined concept called social purpose that every social landlord chief executives rams down out throats at every possible turn and says it courses through their veins (although reading Twitter recently you’d be forgiven that it’s not today’s latest version of 492 gins that have come onto the market that course through …

Liverpool that has no council housing (divided up between Cobalt, LMH and SLH) and so only has housing association landlords in the purportedly social rented sector.  It has 7 housing associations with over 1000 general needs (GN) properties and a breakdown is below:

  1. Arena 2514 GN properties of which 208 at AR level = 8.27%

  2. Cobalt 5996 GN properties of which 300 at AR level = 5.0%

  3. LHT 5279 GN properties of which 435 at AR level = 8.24%

  4. LMH 14,474 GN properties of which 1,300 at AR level = 8.98%

  5. Plus Dane 4,503 GN properties of which 721 at AR level = 16.01%

  6. SLH has 3,604 GN properties of which 132 at AR level = 3.67%

  7. Riverside has 9,685 GN properties of which 1,725 at AR level = 17.81%

Between them they manage 46,055 general needs properties of which 4.821 (10.47%) are at the much higher misnamed affordable (sic) rent level meaning Liverpool has 22% more of its housing association tenants paying higher AR rents than the English average of 8.6%

Yet it also sees a huge variance between these 7 largest housing associations from a 3.67% or 1 in every 28 properties is AR with South Liverpool Homes to the 17.81% figure for Riverside who have 1 in every 5.6 homes being at the inflated AR level and more than double the English average.

Julie Fadden at SLH has social purpose by presiding over less than half of her total general needs housing stock (out in Speke) being at the misnamed and distinctly asocial AR rent level. I’m sure Bridget McCann would approve of 27 out of 28 SLH properties are rented at the truly affordable rent known as social rent.

Yet, (a) Carol Matthews at Riverside has 5 in every 28 properties being let out at the affordable rent level. The vast majority of which will have been previously rented at the social rent level as there is no way Riverside has built 1,725 new social housing properties in Liverpool since 2012. This is the same Carol Matthews who said in December 2017 that – I kid you not – said we need a more thoughtful look at rents!!!

carol matthews asocial

What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive – says Sir Walter Scott to the exiled Scot in Liverpool who heads up Riverside who if still confused what a Bridget McCann is think of the wee lassie called Mhairi Black as a current version who like Bridget wouldn’t be afraid to use even the ‘C’ word.

And then we have (b) Barbara Spicer of Plus Dane who also has double the national average percentage of the offensive and distinctly asocial AR rent properties with 16.01% and the national (English average) is 8.6% according to the regulator. Yes that’s the same Barbara Spicer who intones that her organisation has social purpose coursing through their veins in the same way Carol Matthews at Riverside always SAYS the same yet those damn pesky facts tell a very much different tale!

In an article in March 2018 about Plus Dane I quote its board chair saying this:

The Board has been very clear in setting the strategic direction for the organisation, and wholly supportive of the chief executive and her team in making some tough decisions to ensure we retain our strong social purpose and focus on the needs of our tenants and future customers.

Yes that is the same Barbara Spicer as chief executive that is being referred to and strong social purpose means doubling the amount of tenants in Liverpool than the average housing association who pay much more for the same property than the previous tenant who left it the week before.

Of course if Plus Dane want to contact me to tell me how many of their 721 AR tenancies in Liverpool are new build and not conversions (which the official figures do not publish – shame on you HCA) or if Riverside want to inform me how many of their 1,725 AR properties in Liverpool are new build and not conversions then I am all ears! 

Or for that matter if LMH want to tell me how many of their 1,300 AR properties are conversions and which netted them an extra £2.1 million in rent in 2015/16 alone.  Liverpool AR tenants forked out £2.1 million more in rent for these LMH properties so that gives you an idea just how asocial these housing associations are and note its more when you include their increased rents on sheltered housing AR properties – Poor old Mrs Jones has died, quick let’s charge Dear old Mrs Smith 44% more when she moves in is what this truly offensive and asocial practice means.

I could have used dozens (literally) of quotes about these three female housing association chief executives in which they say that social purpose courses through their veins yet – as those damn pesky facts prove once again – only 1 of them can put their money where their mouth is; only one of them is not the female version of a Tom Pepper and only one of them has facts to prove they have social purpose.

I was born in Liverpool and not far from the docks either and like all Liverpool men who have at least half a brain you don’t pick an argument with a woman in Liverpool if you have any sense … yet Bridget McCann would and would pick a huge argument with and call out the bull that Carol Matthews and Barbara Spicer repeat ad nauseam that they have social purpose.

I can imagine that conversation now … well not a conversation exactly more a statement from Bridget McCann that would give no opportunity of a response other than grab your coat and go home in a huff and shame faced …

Hang on a minute Girl, if she only rips off 4 tenants why are youse two ripping 16 or 17 tenants then … is what Bridget would say to Caz and Barb … and don’t give me that shite that the government made you do it either!  If Caz and Barb were stupid enough not to down their gins and grab their coats then Bridget would continue … You evict someone of a Friday and then charge some poor bastard 44% more in the same effing house on the Monday and youse call yerself a charity … and you do this to pensioners too!!!!

We so need every social tenant to be Bridget McCann and who cut through the nonsense we are being fed by the sophistry we hear day in day out from reportedly social landlords and in Bridget’s language the bullshit merchants who head them up.

______________________________

The figures used above all come from the Statistical Data Return published by the housing regulator and that data is given to the regulator from the housing associations.

The official figures in the SDR are in a huge array of spreadsheets and Tables and effectively buried there despite being publicly available here and a screenshot of the overall English position is below.

conversions

8point6 per cent

Perhaps the also misnamed social rented sector which is so fond of tables of added value and social value and similar meaningless PR spin could compile a social purpose table with the highest % of AR properties being the most asocial and the landlords with the lowest % of AR being the most social … oh but that would be based on facts wouldn’t it, you know those damn pesky things that those with the biggest mouths tend to avoid at all costs …

PS – My dad built many of the post-war homes in Speke and it has a fascinating and unusual history that you can read about here (a really good read) and the birthplace of Rigsby …er …

speke

 

Work 50 days for nothing just to pay ‘social’ housing rents

The council tenant on minimum wage has to work 50 days extra each year just to pay the council affordable rent level. The housing association tenant on minimum wage has to work an additional 43 days per year based on the latest full year official figures we have of April 2016 to March 2017.  These reveal the average rents in England were:

  • Council landlord social rent level £5,070 per year

  • Housing association social rent level £5,502 per year

  • Affordable rent level for both £7,944 per year

Source: English Housing Survey Annex Tables

The council tenant on an affordable rent tenancy pays £2,874 more each year in rent than the council tenant on a social rent tenancy. The national minimum wage in 2016/17 was £7.20 per hour and £57.60 per day (gross) based on an 8-hour day and 40 hour week. Divide £2,874 per year by this £57.60 per day and it gives 49.9 extra days worked at the national minimum wage just to pay the rent. The same basis for the housing association additional rent of £2,442 per year means an additional 42.4 days was worked at minimum wage just to meet the so-called ‘affordable rent.’

For the 102,004 housing association AR properties that have been converted from a social rent of £5,502 of a Sunday to £7,944 the next day this means an additional 4,324,545 days were worked by housing association tenants at national minimum wage just to pay the so-called affordable rent level.

How about the housing association tenant on minimum wage in 2016/17 had to work from Monday 4 April 2016 to Monday 6 June 2016 – 43 working days for nothing other than paying the rent increase and the council tenant on minimum wage had to work for nothing until Wednesday 15 June 2016 just to pay the extra rent!

Council and housing association landlords call themselves social landlords … the cheeky money-grabbing tenant-shafting b*stards!!

rent