Never underestimate the stupidity of UK housing

If there is such as a thing as a basic NVQ Level 1 textbook in business studies it would tell you that companies lose 20% of their customers each year.  The social rented housing is thus in a privileged position of only losing 10% of its customers each at around 440,000 of its current 4.4 million households

Yet the social rented housing is stupid in ignoring this as it means every 5 years that 50% of its customers – the tenants – are different to what they were 5 year before.  Another way to say this is that from the start of one parliament to its end half of your customers have moved on and half need to be replaced.

Some 2.2 million new tenants have to be found over the course of a 5-year parliament.

Today I received an email invitation to a Chartered Institute of Housing conference costing £279 for CIH members or £299 for non-members to come listen to the wider great and good of social housing called “Rethinking social housing – shaping the future”

Without the need to be a grammar Nazi all of this is future tense and what social housing will be in the future – a point hammered home in the blurb by Terrie Alafat the CIH chief executive which you can read in the full blurb at the end.

You will also see that many eminent professors are part of this as are so many housing ‘leaders’ and the erstwhile great and good are speaking and so far so good.  Then we find the details of the 3 core strands each of which asks two questions and here is where we find the rub of the crass stupidity of the UK housing sector.

cih nonsense 2

Now look at these six questions reader and tell me which of these deals with the 2.2 million new social tenants we will have in social housing by 2022?  If you think the answer is NONE of them then you are entirely correct.

This is a rhetorical question but what is the point of finding out who CURRENTLY lives in social housing if half of them will not be there in 5 years time in this self-proclaimed FUTURE exercise called “Rethinking social housing – shaping the future?”

Today we know that in 5 years time many changes to who can AFFORD to live in social housing will arise.  Absolutely fundamental changes will occur when we know today that from April 2020 social housing rents will increase by 4% each year (CPI+1%) and that will mean that UK social landlords will year on year refuse to accommodate ever smaller working age families due to how these rent rises interact with the overall benefit cap policy.

Now only in September some 6 weeks ago did the same CIH who is behind this “Rethinking social housing – shaping the future” initiative issue a report in conjunction with the University of Sheffield to say that an increasing number of (benefit) families are being refused social housing due to affordability.  These tenants can’t afford the rent now due to the OBC and social landlords can’t afford to accommodate them due to the financial risk of arrears now.

That affordability risk and financial toxicity of the working age benefit household now will get so much more acute every year from April 2020 with the CPI+1% inflation busting rent increases.  Every £1 the rent increases is £1 less that the benefit household will get in housing benefit and its universal credit equivalent.

A day or so after the CPI+1% inflation busting social rent formula was announced I correctly said this means that by 2022/23 and just five years away that social landlords will have to refuse to accommodate the working age benefit household with just 2 children across the UK and in some areas the working age benefit household with just one child on the same affordability grounds.

What is the point of finding out who currently lives in social housing? AND the real question that this 3 strand 6 question initiative omits to ask is Who can afford to live in social housing in the future?

  • Do social landlords target an ever increasing number of non benefit self rent-paying households in order to fill its 2.2 million vacancies every 5 years?
  • Do social landlords target an ever increasing percentage of non working-age new tenants each year i.e pensioners who are not a financial risk?

Forgive me for stating the bloody obvious reader but it has to be one or both of those two options or a combination of both.  So the futility of seeking to find out who the CURRENT tenants in social housing are is there for all to see – well apart from the 28% of socially rented households who are headed up by a pensioner in England (and I have no equivalent figures to hand for Northern Ireland, Scotland & Wales.0

Now lets take the truly alarming omission of who will comprise 50% of all social tenants in five years a step further.  Social landlords are fixated on build build build.  We have to build more and more new houses they say and they do.

Yet who are they building for if they do not even contemplate who is going to live in them in 5 years or 30 years or even 60 years time?  Or more in depth of who can afford to live in them in 5 years time which must be a major factor in what type and size of housing that is built surely?

I could say so much more but I will finish with a question that you would also find in a NVQ Level 1 business studies textbook – Why would anyone pay £299 for a seminar that is meaningless and misguided and provides no real benefit? If those six questions are the best the CIH and the great and the good of the housing sector and the great and the good of academia can come up then they and all potential attendees would be better served by buying a Business Studies for Dummies book (Level 1).


cih future nonsense


PS You noticed the typo in CIH blurb which meant to say “the project will have three streams of work” yet actually says three STEAMS!

The steams off the proverbial you can’t polish or roll in glitter anyone?

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