Welcome to ‘social’ housing Lucy Powell. Have a drink from your poisoned chalice

This morning was the first CIH national conference appearance of Lucy Powell the shadow housing minister and, oh dear, what a shambles it was with the same old LIES trotted out along with wiff-waff that would make Boris Johnson envious by Lucy Powell as she sought to preach to the converted.

The above is a definitive LIE that is easily proven to be a LIE as housing associations alone receive a greater total amount in housing benefit and its UC equivalent than private landlords receive and this has been the case since official HB data first reported the housing benefit by landlord type in 2008.

In 2011 I reported on this at the time when the Conservative-led coalition was seeking to reduce the overall housing benefit spend by almost £2 billion per year with its ‘welfare reform’ policies such as bedroom tax, overall benefit cap and others and in 2008. I wrote then:

The overall HB cost in November 2008 was £16.7bn and the PRS received in total £5.523bn per year consisting of 1,054,810 claimants each on average receiving £100.53. The remaining £11.2bn consisting of 1,493,080 council tenants claiming HB at an average of £65.23, 54% less than PRS, and 1.616,290 HA tenants receiving £71.73 on average, or 40% less cost to public purse than a private tenant.

In 2008 PRS landlords received £5.523 billion in housing benefit when housing association landlords received £6.05 billion per year and council landlords £5.13 billion per year. This myth that Lucy Powell asserted today that private landlords receive most of the billions that is spend out on housing benefit is a myth that has been easily disproved for 13 years.

Lucy Powell went much further than this lie and implied that private landlords get housing benefit for renting out shit holes and this would somehow change under a Labour government with the inference was this would change just for private landlords and not for what we misterm as social landlords. It is clear Lucy Powell wants to sweep under the carpet the shit hole social properties revealed in the ITV News broadcasts just as her social landlord audience wants us all to unsee what we have seen in those ITV News broadcasts!

ALL governments should seek to rid rented housing of ALL landlords who operate abusive shit hole properties!!

Here we have yet another Labour shadow housing minister automatically accepting the tired old private landlord bad and public landlord good proposition and without even bothering to check that the irrefutable facts since 2008 of housing benefit receipt by landlord type make her assertions a lie and oft-stated myth and mean she can have no credibility at all with anyone of the 6 million voters in the social rented sector or anyone with any interest in the social housing key concept of it being about housing need.

In England the SRS rehouses a tiny single figure percentage of single homeless households and offers up just 2% of its housing to women who have fled domestic violence and abuse.

Will Lucy Powell seek to do anything about this appalling neglect of real housing need by purportedly social landlords or will she just accept the hollow platitudes of SRS landlords who regularly develop fur coat and no knickers / all talk and no action campaigns on homeless, domestic abuse and all other housing need issues?

Will Lucy Powell even question why English housing associations do not use their £6 billion+ per annum profits to develop 75,000 new homes each year at the only genuinely affordable social rent level with £80,000 per property in what HAs like to call surplus which can ONLY be called surplus if it is reinvested in property? Or will Lucy Powell allow England’s housing associations to carry on believing in this housing version of trickle-down economics that creates these markedly increased profits from while never developing more than 5,000 new social rent houses per year in the last four years when they have been making these profits? English housing associations have made enough in profit in the last four years (£6bn+ pa) to develop 300,000 new SRS properties at the social rent level yet they have not managed 20,000 in that time.

When Lucy Powell says the following you have your answer …

Will ABBA do a new version of “Money, Money, Money?”

The National Housing Federation, the umbrella lobby for England’s housing associations asserts £78k subsidy per property at the social rent level is needed for each new property and I round this up to £80k per property to get the 75,000 yearly new social rent properties that £6 billion profits or surplus generates.

Lucy Powell also mentioned the Everyone In scheme which again evidences her chronic ignorance of basic facts when she says:

“remarkable” indeed! – in its SRS failure!

It was only remarkable as it gave vast revenue and profit to private hotels and B&Bs used that would otherwise be closed due to the pandemic and even more remarkable that England’s purportedly social rented sector could NOT provide. It is clearly too much for Lucy Powell to state 37,000 rough sleepers were taken in during the first eight months and correlate this with the fact that England’s SRS landlords provide just 11,106 rehousing properties per year to ALL single homeless groups.

To then add the circa 100,000 in England’s 40,000 or so homeless hostel rooms each year who also need a 1 bed permanent property to escape homelessness as well as one-third or more of women who have fled to refuges and are childless and thus another single homeless household group requiring a 1 bed property or to throw in the 529,000 on council waiting lists for a 1 bed property even before mentioning the 386,000 single homeless households who ‘sofa surf’ in someone else’s home each year for Lucy Powell to give any sort of consideration needed to what she just as flippantly as the SRS refer to as “the Housing Crisis.”

Lucy Powell will be well received by England’s social rented sector as she is just as negligent and averse to factual data as they choose to be while they are warmly patting themselves on their backs and professing to care about homelessness and domestic abuse and any other facet of real (re)housing need.

Like all shadow housing ministers and all housing ministers since 2010 Lucy Powell has in one speech revealed she and the Labour Party and not just the government are chronically ignorant of rented housing facts and what factual data means and manifests. I will give her a while to look at the overall most critical data of housing tenure across England which has always meant that ANY policy on housing, homelessness or other related issue plays out differently interregionally and intraregionally noting her region the North West of England has just 3.6% and 81,000 of all its 3.2 million properties being council housing when London’s 3.5 million properties have 5 times as much council housing at 411,000.

England Housing Tenure 2019/20 (EHS)

EHS data 2020 on England’s housign tenure by region

Welcome to England’s truly perverse housing market Lucy Powell and perhaps your Labour Party that is seeking to shed huge amounts of its workers should engage at least 1 person who can look at the facts of the housing issue that is your brief? I know, what an outrageous suggestion that is eh!

Have you asked your shadow cabinet colleague Ed Miliband if he is still in favour of right to buy as he stated in his 2011 Labour conference speech as leader when he also praised this Thatcher policy as being right? You say you as yet have no policy or view on RTB …. hmm! You can also ask him why as part of the independent Shelter report he said England needs 90,000 new SRS housing units per year when those darn pesky facts reveal it needs well over 100,000 new 1 bedded properties at social rent alone just to rehouse the single homeless households that the Tory-created systems generate each year in ever growing numbers in those pesky welfare reform policies you never voted against and your party has never publicly condemned. Could you ask another of your cabinet colleagues in Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor no less and the one you will have to persuade for the money for new housing if she still holds the following views?

The glorious former Shadow DWP Minister
Miliband & Starmer Labour

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Perhaps you could also ask Rachel Reeves shadow treasury team how many more new social housing units you will need for the additional homeless numbers created by the £86 pcm UC cut that will see existing SRS tenants on that very slippery arrears to eviction to homeless slope they are on? Did nobody in the audience ask your view on the 30 year demand of the G15 housing associations for inflation-busting rents that will see all of the social rented sector become a housing benefit claimant no go zone within 5 years and SRS homeless numbers increase stratospherically and need another even bigger ‘remarkable’ need for Everyone In and ever greater private sector profits being generated as you refuse to see what is in front of your face with the current social rented sector whom you pandered to today …

Welcome to ‘social’ housing Lucy Powell!!