Yes Minister does Housing First

How can the much touted Housing First model only be suitable for a maximum of 16,500 single homeless households with complex support needs? 

The current sham CSJ ‘research’ seeking to cover up its huge previous mistakes

16,500 is the apparent maximum number that Iain Duncan Smiths CSJ think tank along with Crisis, Homeless Link and the Chartered Institute of Housing (hereafter the great and good) say is the total need for Housing First in England in a current research project to inform Government policy on ending rough sleeping.

The target client group for Housing First is apparently roofless rough sleepers plus other single homeless households with complex support needs whom are deemed worthy of the 3 hours per week visiting support of the Housing First model.  The aforementioned great and good assert a mere 16,500 need visiting support to maintain a tenancy. 

The same ‘great and good’ acknowledged in the CJS report of 2017 (authored by Hannah Gousy of Crisis) that England has 34,500 rough sleepers alone so 16,500 as the total Housing First cohort means the great and good believe the majority of rough sleepers do NOT need support to be able to sustain a tenancy!

On no planet known to mankind even in the dystopian mind of Kafka could anyone believe the notion that the majority of rough sleepers can go seamlessly from the street or hedgerow to maintaining a tenancy of their own without support.  Yet the aforementioned great and good assert this to be the case!

And it is the case for the panacea that is Housing First model we have rammed down our throats as cure for rough sleeping and other single homeless households.  The exact same Housing First model we are told is far more cost effective than the predominant hostel resettlement model its advocates want to replace. 

Why is the glorious Housing First model panacea and cure NOT being rolled out to all of the 140,000+ single homeless households that England creates each year (a figure which excludes the additional 386,000 homeless sofa-surfing households England has according to the English Housing Survey?) 

If it works better which we have been told it does, and if it is more cost effective as we have been told it is, by the great and the good and thousands more devotees then why is Housing First being limited to a miserly 16,500 per year and which represents just 3% of the 526,000+ single homeless households we have in England? 

How come the same great and good in the CSJ2017 Housing First report can say that 46,000 per year is the Housing First yearly need and then reduce this by 64% to the 16,500 maximum figure the current CSJ / great and good report states?

Imagine for a second you are a private landlord whom the aforementioned great and good believe will rehouse the rough sleeper direct from the street or hedgerow for no extra money in rent and the prospective rough sleeper tenant will get no support to maintain the tenancy of one of your properties?  Would you as a private landlord accommodate the direct from the street rough sleeper?  No of course you wouldn’t … and neither will the social landlord do so.  Then add in the proposed banning of no fault evictions which will make it much more difficult to evict any tenant in private renting or housing association properties (HAs use the same AST tenure for starter tenancies as PRS) and ask again would you expect anyone to rehouse the rough sleeper direct from the streets, or for that matter any of the other 526,000 single homeless persons in this set of circumstances.

The maximum 16,500 per year Housing First number is very revealing. 

Firstly, it reveals the so-called better and cheaper and much more empowering HF model will only ever be a tiny percentage of any solution to end or reduce single homelessness in England.  Secondly, it starkly reveals that the Housing First devotees, proponents and even the aforementioned great and good have finally had the dose of reality over their many and repeated hyperbolic and zealous claims over Housing First (which the crude rehousing questions of all landlords above illustrate) that were sorely needed and I have been discussing since day one.

What I strongly suspect has happened is the CSJ and its great and good bedfellows have had what is professionally known as the “Oh Shit” moment when they have looked at their original 2017 report and realised that the costs it stated are actually FIVE TIMES HIGHER than they stated and then decided to massively reduce the numbers of those they said needed Housing First’s all bells and whistles service!

The Centre for Social Justice 2017 report authored by Crisis and signed off by a great and good panel as well as IDS and his fellow directors made two humungous schoolboy errors in their arithmetic. 

The first was assuming the 40,000 homeless hostel rooms in England accommodated 40,000 single homeless persons per year when they accommodate circa 112,000 per year as the average resident is there for 130 days.  When CSJ2017 then did a crude 20% of hostel residents per year need Housing First that figure should have been 20% of 112,000 yearly occupants (22,400) yet they did 20% of the at any one night 40,000 and came up with just 8,000.  Hence the 8,000 figure they used was 14,400 less than the 22,400 figure and so the 46,000 number they projected as needing Housing First should have been 60,000 per year.

The second glaring arithmetic error was in terms of cost and chronic ignorance.  The CSL2017 report stated the cost was a constant one each year of £244 million for Housing First visiting support based on 46,000 clients receiving £5304 in support value per year (based on 3 hours per week @ £40 per hour.)  The cost is NOT a constant one at all as the CSJ2017 also recommended that the duration of Housing First visiting support was for 5 years.

Year 1 = 46,000 @ £5304 per client = £244 million cost.  YET Year 2 sees a further 46,000 receiving Housing First making 92,000 lots of £5304 and a £488 million yearly cost.  Year 3 sees a further 46,000 support making 134,000 lots of £5304 cost making £732 million.  Year 4 sees a further 46,000 come online for 192,000 lots of £5304 cost for £976 million.  Year 5 sees a further 46,000 making 230,000 supported each at £5304 funding which is £1.22 billion per year!

In Year 6 another 46,000 are supported yet 46,000 who started in Year 1 have had 5 years of support and no longer need it.  In each subsequent year we have a 230,000 Housing First cohort costing £1.22 billion per year in perpetuity which is FIVE TIMES the constant £244 million pa cost the CSJ told Government.

So now the CSJ and the rest of the right-wing great and good decide 16,500 is the maximum yearly cohort which gives a revised cost after the 5-year scale-up period of £438 million in each normal year [(16,500 x 5 years) x £5304)] and £194 million more than the CSJ 2017 / great and good cost of £244 million.

A vision has appeared before my very eyes reader …

Apologies for the following hastily written sketch which reveals the Housing First “Oh Shit” moment

MinisterHow is our wonderful plan to end rough sleeping coming along?

Sir Humphrey: Well Minister, you know the original cost of £244 million per year, it is now £1.22 billion per year and we need just shy of a billion more per year

Minister: But you said it was a constant cost … and all of those cost efficiency savings you claimed from using £244 million as the cost of Housing First are now all wrong too?

Sir Humphrey:  Yes, Minister …

Minister: But…

Sir HumphreyNo need to panic minister.  Our esteemed colleagues have however researched the numbers again and reduced them by 64% giving a requirement of only £194 million per year more

Minister: But that’s still £194 million more …

Sir Humphrey: Yes Minister your caring conservatism has decided to put a further £194 million into ending rough sleeping …

Minister: Hmm. But we are still supporting 64% fewer rough sleepers…

Sir Humphrey: Yes and at a 64% lower cost than the previous administration of Mrs May …

Minister: But still …

Sir Humphrey: No worries Minister we have Crisis, Homeless Link, the Chartered Institute of Housing all lauding the wonderful new plan that gives £194 million per year more

Minister: Is that all it costs to hide the mistakes of IDS, his CSJ and these ‘great and good’ of the housing and homeless lobbies?

Sir Humphrey: Yes Minister!

All of the readers familiar with Yes Minister will recognise the above and most of you will recall this is the same CSJ who devised Universal Credit which totally overlooked that Housing Benefit was paid to supported housing providers such as hostels that ensued 7 years of shush don’t tell anyone behind closed doors discussions that led to over 6000 homeless hostel rooms being closed in England and every proposed supported housing new development put off because the revenue funding (Housing Benefit) could not be assured to make such new schemes stack-up financially. 

Yes the CSJ has direct form when it comes to incompetent innumeracy and cock-ups of the highest magnitude and impact in this precise area! However, Crisis who authored both reports and Homeless Link who also were on the great and good panel of CSJ2017 and now the Chartered Institute of Housing are all collectively becoming bedfellows of IDS and his right-wing CSJ think tank. In doing so and just using the woefully understated 60,000 per year single homeless need for support each year down to 16,500 we see these ‘great and good wholly shaft those single homeless with support needs.

The 300,000 who would have received visiting Housing First support after it is scaled up now sees just 82,500 receiving such visiting support. 217,500 vulnerable rough sleepers and other single homeless persons will now NOT be receiving the support they need and Government will thus save 217,500 lots of £5304 each per year. It means £1.15 billion per year LESS is going into the support funding pot for single homeless persons and Crisis, Homeless Link and the Chartered Institute of Housing are fully complicit in this charade!

Rough sleepers and single homeless persons with support needs have enough enemies without needing ‘friends’ like Crisis, Homeless Link and CIH!

2 Replies to “Yes Minister does Housing First”

  1. You are so right Joe, the only problem is that its … ‘ An Inconvenient truth ‘
    The government ( fuelled by Tenant support groups ) have had the biggest Negative impact on Tenants ! in the last decade.
    And your absolutely right about abolition of Section 21.
    I was only discussing this ‘ yesterday ‘ – that the majority of Societies ‘complex needs tenants are being housing in the private rented sector which is simply not intended or equipped to deal with such people.

    When private landlords don’t want to rent to these tenants ( for good reason that has didley-squat to do with discrimination or prejudice ) they are condemned [ No DSS ] When the tenancy inevitably goes ‘wrong’ as we know there isn’t anything like the support services ( or any public services ) sufficient to cope, everyone’s fingers pointing at the ‘bad uncaring private landlord’ for evicting a tenant that wasn’t suitable to be accommodated there in the first place, … there ‘ just wasn’t anywhere else.’ ( and that ends up the Private sectors fault ! – how screwed-up is that ? )

    The ‘message’ – signal to private landlords is ‘don’t rent to these tenants’
    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, the Private landlord can’t win. many are realising this and withdrawing, causing even further shortages and choosing to invest elsewhere, sometimes not just in different markets, but different countries.

    This country will so reap what its sewn from the incessant attack on the private rented sector.


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