Social rents increase 70% more than private ones … but Who Cares?

Between 2010 to 2018 median rent increases in England were social landlords 50% more than inflation and private landlords 12% less than inflation – facts that are undeniable yet run contrary to typical housing commentary which ignores these facts.

The official data from the English Housing Survey (EHS) is tabled below and I have added the CPI inflation figure and the percentage increases from 2010 to 2018:

ehs ha rents to 2018

These figures reveal many things:

  • that the so-called social landlords have been immune from the austerity that tenants have suffered since the Tories came to power in May 2010
  • that any claim council and housing association landlords make to have social purpose need to be taken with a very large pinch of salt as their net rents have increased by 50% more than inflation during the Tory austerity period
  • that the vast majority of the housing commentary that blames housing inaffordability on just the private landlord is both lazy and wrong
  • that private landlords have shown restraint in rent increases over the period yet social (sic) landlords have not – largely due to housing benefit (LHA) increases of less than 1% in the PRS while SRS HB increases have been 22% over the same period
  • that social (sic) landlords still believe they have an automatic entitlement to inflation busting rent rises, at view shared by the Conservatives in permitting them
  • SRS average (median) rents were 59% of PRS rents in 2018 up from 54% in 2010
  • SRS rent rises have been 70% more than PRS rent rises (28.6% to 16.8%)

The tenant has been getting shafted by these staggering rent increases from council and housing association landlords whether they are claiming housing benefit or not.

  • Wage increases have averaged just under 13% yet rents have increased across the social rented sector by 28.6% and rent has taken a far higher percentage of income for those not claiming housing benefit.
  • Low paid and out-of-work tenants have had the same 28.6% increase yet housing benefit has increased by 22% and working-age benefit increases have been just 8.8% meaning a far greater proportion on non-housing welfare income is used just to meet social (sic) housing rent increases
  • NB that housing benefit has NOT kept pace with SRS rent rises and that more than a quarter of all housing benefit recipients at 1.1 million are in work

English housing associations made a 35.1% surplus last year (see official Global Accounts figures here) or £26 of profit per tenancy per week on their median £99 per week that now sees them collectively have £48 billion of surplus. There are no comparable figures for council landlords in terms of rent profit per tenant per week or surpluses.

The social tenant has been and continues to be shafted by asocial landlords with their execessive rent increases but … Who cares?

You would think that the purported social tenant lobbies such as TPAS and others would be bombarding the media with outrage at rent increases of 50% more than inflation yet they have not done so at all. When utility bills increase by more than inflation or costs of travel do there is front page news and media attention yet that never happens with council and HA rent rises.  We see masses of articles about the ‘nasty’ private landlord rents but none about the offensive social (sic) landlord rent rises that have far outweighed private rent rises.

We see the housing media bombarded with HA landlords and their apologists bemoaning the imposed 1% (net) rent cut from 2016 yet HA landlords rents, turnover and surpluses have all increased since 2016 as matters of fact and which goes unreported once again with the national media and social tenant lobbies being silent.

That silence and complicity goes further with the likes of Shelter teaming up with the National Housing Federation in campaigns to end what they term as the discrimination of No DSS in the private sector and ignoring that No DSS increasingly occurs in social housing, to which they give a softer term of ‘lack of welfare assistance’ yet is precisely the same thing as the emotive No DSS.

In summary it is far too simplistic to see rent affordability as only a matter in the private rented sector and far too negligent, wrong and lazy to believe it does not exist in the social rented sector.

In fact the social rented sector does not exist and it a charade that asocial landlords promote to differentiate themselves from the ‘nasty’ private landlord arguments they persist in promoting while they impose far nastier rent increases on their customers the social tenant.

A tenant is not a customer who can switch suppliers of housing like they can switch utility providers and they are not yours as council and HA landlords deliberately refer to in the possessive and paternalistic way they do and which is just another deliberate charade as part of the bigger charade they call social purpose

The social tenant has been getting shafted for too long as the facts show and their lot has been neglected by all and sundry and I the question of Who cares needs to stop being a rhetorical one.


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