The £20 per week and £86 per month which is £1040 per year cut to Universal Credit is bad isn’t it? It creates poverty and so on … Then what about the £182 per month and £2,184 per year cut to housing benefit for social housing tenants by 2024/25? This is more than double the UC cut and yet nobody bats an eyelid.
Chart 1 below gives a starting point of the current financial year of 2021/22 where the council or HA tenant is charged a monthly rent of £500 and all of that £500 is covered by housing benefit or Universal Credit Housing Cost Element (HB/UCHCE) and the Overall Benefit Cap policy does not affect the SRS household in receipt of HB / UCHCE.
Next financial year from April 2022 to March 2023 social housing rents will increase by the rent formula of CPI+1% based on the CPI rate of September 2021. IF this is the same as the August 2021 CPI rate of 3.2% then social rented sector rents will increase by 4.2% from next April.
In April 2022 the current £500 pcm SRS rent level will increase by 4.2% to £521 pcm as shown. IF all other subsistence level benefits increase by CPI of 3.2% AND IF the overall benefit cap level remains a constant and both of these are the norm then the maximum housing benefit (HB/UCHCE) that can be paid to the same household in the same SRS property reduces from £500 pcm today to £463 pcm as shown on the chart. The rent is £521 per month and max housing benefit is £463 so the SRS household will need to find this £58 per calendar month rent shortfall from their other subsistence level benefits.
The chart shows the same process of 3.2% CPI for the next 10 years and by 2031/32 this process which is how the overall benefit cap works will see a monthly SRS rent of £754 per month yet a maximum housing benefit payable of just £68 per month leaving the housing benefit dependent tenant to find £686 each month over and above the maximum housing benefit to keep a roof over their head.
However, lets say that this 3.2% CPI is an aberrant figure and just a one-off 4.2% SRS rent increase in 2022/23. Let’s look at what would happen if CPI inflation returns to its 2% level that government still set as a target and I look at this in Chart 2 below.
As you can see the same principle happens only to a lesser extent and prolonged yet still INEVITABLY SO even if CPI inflation returns to 2% for 2023 and beyond when a rent top-up of £139 per month will be needed from the benefit tenant.
By 2024/25 the SRS household will find the rent of £500 today has increased to £553 per month and the maximum housing benefit of £500 today will have reduced to £414 for a shortfall of £139 per month and £1,568 per year for the housing benefit dependent tenant.
IF the 3.2% CPI inflation rate is aberrant – which it is – and it returns to its usual and targeted 2% for every subsequent year we see that the manifestation of CPI+1% SRS rent rises in ten years time is a rent of £680 per month yet just £228 being the maximum payable in housing benefit for a monthly shortfall of £458 and a yearly housing benefit shortfall of £5,486 when today there is ZERO shortfall!
The CPI+1% rent formula applies from now until 2024 and even if CPI inflation does return to average 2% by September 2022 which determines the 2023/24 SRS rent increase and remains at that 2% inflation level it still means that the social rented sector of council and housing association landlords is a housing benefit tenant NO GO ZONE by the end of this parliament.
Note well it means all existing housing benefit dependent households in social housing will be evicted as they slide rapidly down the arrears to eviction to homeless slope AND it further means that no housing benefit dependent tenant will get any of the 300,000 SRS properties that become available each year (the prospective SRS tenant) is excluded from getting a council or housing association property.
What we today still (absurdly) call social housing will be dead as a Dodo by the end of this parliament and due directly to the idiotic demands of the so-called social rented sector for inflation busting rent increases year on year. Increases that these incompetent innumerates believe are divorced from the social policy reality of the overall benefit cap policy which creates a SRS landlord strategy of pay your ever-increasing rent else bugger off and which no doubt the SRS apologists will try to defend as social purpose!
In the few short years when council and housing association properties become not just No DSS but NO JOB NO SOCIAL HOUSING will these incompetent innumerates wonder why the government and all subsequent governments of any political hue will no longer give the social rented sector a penny in capital subsidy! The ONLY rationale for ANY government to give SRS landlords capital subsidy is to accommodate those hosueholds who cannot afford private renting or buying their own property so when these incompetent innumerate and ultra-commercially focused idiots make any definition of ‘social’ housing and ‘social’ purpose to be wholly unaffordable to the housing benefit dependent household they are shooting themselves in the foot with a cannon aren’t they!?
In short and very pithy language the government WILL adopt the position of if you won’t house the benefit tenant then SRS landlords can go and f**k themselves if they expect government to give them capital subsidy! IF government does this – and why wouldn’t they as they do not benefit from this – then the greedy b*stard social landlords will only have themselves to blame wont they!?
The very simple charts above dictate that the innumerate idiots of the social rented sector have to abandon their demands for inflation-busting rent rises each year for their OWN survival … which they can wrap up and sell as if they actually care about the lot of the social tenant
Yesterday, Sunday 12 September 2021 ITV broadcast the squalor in the SOCIAL rented sector and this in-depth six months in the making documentary could yet won’t be seminal and the beginning of a realistic factual consideration of what we misterm as ‘social’ housing.
I say ‘could be’ with good reason and with strong evidence as ITV News has broadcast a series of videos over recent months on the squalor within the social rented sector (SRS) which has seen SRS leaders remaining firmly in denial mode and the official Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) conclude that the abuse imposed on social tenants is nothing to be concerned about.
A slumlord is a slumlord whether they are a private or a ‘social’ landlord.
The not fit for human habitation conditions that SLUMLORD Clarion Housing Association forced upon tenants has not even seen the regulator give Clarion, the UK’s largest housing association, a slap on the wrist and exposes that there is no effective regulation of SRS squalor and SRS slumlord operations
The chief executive of the National Housing Federation, Kate Henderson has, with outrageous shame, tenant disregard and contempt, in response said that only 5% of SRS properties have black mould and which is less than in the private rented sector seeking to downplay and excuse these unfit for human habitation SRS properties of its SLUMLORD members.
5% of the SRS properties in England is 220,000 properties typically accommodating 2.3 persons so some half a million men, women and children are subjected to abuse by social landlords and Kate Henderson of the NHF is arguing that this is acceptable on the basis this is less than the abuse perpetrated by private rented sector landlords!
I set out not to swear in this post but HALF A FUCKING MILLION men, women and children in social (sic) housing in England are being abused by their purportedly social landlord!
Note well the 5% figure is just for those and those recorded as having black mould and just one of many abuse and health and safety issues. The ITV News broadcasts have revealed ceilings collapsing, rat and mice infestations, chronic water leaks next to electrical appliances and also water leaks revealing the water and mould is contaminated with faecal matter – and these are just some of the squalor issues before we even get to the cladding scandal that sees tenants and leaseholders living in properties wrapped in combustible material.
I have no doubt that the extremely criticism averse SRS landlords will adopt a narrative of these shit hole properties being the exception and a tiny percentage of all social housing following the shameful ‘only 5%’ lead of Kate Henderson of the National Housing Federation yet each 1% of SRS property squalor is 100,000 men, women and children forced to endure such squalor.
The same SRS is busying itself with net zero carbon endeavours and not net zero squalor and while we have SRS squalor we cannot have net zero carbon
This squalor has not happened overnight but as has been ongoing fro many years as one of the ITV News broadcasts highlighted Clarion Housing Group the UK’s largest housing association landlord operating SLUMLORD properties in LB Bromley which they have known about since 2015 and will not address until 2028 – a 13-year duration of abuse and for which one tenant revealed they rent at £1300 per month for a 3 bed flat.
As a relevant aside can you imagine a private landlord getting away with a SLUMLORD property for 13 years? The PRS landlord would been hauled into court fined and even banned from being a landlord yet that never happens with the so-called ‘social’ landlord. So, in addition to a lack of regulation we also see a lack of legal redress as social landlords asses are not hauled into court and fined or even banned which is the case with private slumlord squalor. This duration of abuse further highlights the huge inequitable state of rented housing in England and an issue that has not to date been picked up by ITV News broadcasts or commentary upon them.
A slumlord is a slumlord whether they are a private or a ‘social’ landlord.
Another nuance also not picked up by ITV News is the aforementioned £1300 pcm and £300 per week rent of the Clarion ‘shit hole’ properties. It means Clarion are charging the property at the perversely misnamed ‘affordable rent’ level (AR) which is also the deliberate choice of Clarion as these properties are not new-build properties since 2011 when AR began and thus Clarion has converted them from the traditional social rent (SR) level of rent which in London averages just £133 per week in official figures (2019/20) which is just £577 per calendar month … YET Clarion Housing Group has chosen to increase by 230% to the absurdly stated affordable rent of £1300 each month.
This says so much doesn’t it about Clarion Housing Group and their acutely commercial bent and focus and just as much about Kate Henderson the chief executive of the National Housing Federation defending such overtly commercial practises and especially when the 230% rent increase was by choice of a ‘social’ (sic) landlord and for a known shit hole property.
What the above facts show is the SLUMLORD practises of SRS landlords and precisely what they do not want you to know and which they seek to defend by outrageous arguments of just 5% being severe black mould and starting a very eclectic narrative that deflects away from increasing the rent on a shit hole property by 230%.
Last week saw the yearly CIH conference – a social landlord get together for a three day junket of ritual backslapping – at which the shadow housing secretary Lucy Powell, herself a private landlord gave a keynote speech which is directly relevant to the issue of SRS squalor.
Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Housing 2021 conference in Manchester today, Lucy Powell, who took over as shadow housing secretary from Thangam Debbonaire in May this year, said that landlords that house housing benefit claimants should not simply be given rental income “with no strings attached” in the future, noting that the Labour Party is considering action to address this.“On housing benefits we spend a huge amount every year, most of which goes to the private rented sector, and we ask nothing in return from that money,” she said. “We are going to be looking at tenants in the private rental sector. There is a lot more we can do about landlord licensing and landlord registration schemes.”
This hugely errant basis of MOST housing benefit goes to the PRS which is a myth I first exposed back in 2011 and goes back even further to 2008 when the official housing benefit by landlord data was first published. In short, SRS landlords have received billions more in housing benefit every year since 2008 than PRS landlords receive in housing benefit. In fact English housing associations alone have received more in housing benefit than PRS landlords every year since 2008 before we look at housing benefit received by council landlords! The housing benefit bill is circa £25 billion per year of which £10.5 billion goes to HAs, £9.2 billion goes to private landlords and £5.3 billion goes to council landlords.
As well as this Lucy Powell / Labour Party basis and premise being hopelessly false and a LIE does this “no strings attached” receipt of housing benefit proposal also apply to social housing SLUMLORDS? Will Labour seek to much more strongly license or even ban so-called ‘social’ landlords for operating shit hole properties or limit this just to PRS landlords!?
A slumlord is a slumlord whether they are a private or a ‘social’ landlord Lucy Powell
The 5% of SRS properties with severe damp and black mould figure has been known long before Daniel Hewitt’s series of broadcasts yet nobody in the SRS or government has done anything about the minimum half a million men, women and children being allowed to live in squalor in social housing properties.
It is abusive that this de facto abuse of social housing tenants has been allowed to fester, has been swept under the carpet and go unaddressed yet it also characterises the long-standing false assumption that private landlords are the only perpetrators of squalor and that social housing has no squalor because it is owned and managed by social landlords who are beneficent and imbued with social purpose … blah, blah, blah!
A slumlord is a slumlord whether they are a private or a ‘social’ landlord.
The current Tory government have done nothing about this squalor and the Labour Party are creating policy based on the myth that squalor is only a private landlord issue and the myth that social landlords do not operate as slumlords with their ‘no strings attached’ housing benefit plan, that will be quickly aborted because it means that social landlords will have to be more closely regulated and potentially banned from receipt of housing benefit.
In summary, the social tenant is being shafted yet again as if banning a slumlord from being a landlord is policy intent, which it undoubtedly should be, then good luck in banning Clarion Housing Group the UK’s largest landlord of any type from operating as a landlord as it will never happen!
What the Daniel Hewitt broadcasts has done is expose that the social rented sector has slumlords who can carry on being slumlords with immunity and impunity as there are no systems in place to sanction the SRS slumlord and never have been. The official Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) says it has no authority to even speak with social tenants affected and abused by squalor and other SRS slumlord practises!
The propaganda of private landlord bad / social landlord good has held sway for decades and is promoted daily by the SRS landlords and lobbies and the national media which has given the social tenant no legal or other effective redress against squalor and slumlord practises of purportedly social landlords.
This is what the ITV News and Daniel Hewitt’s team broadcasts SHOULD change yet I doubt they will.
It should be the case legally that a tenant can withhold rent for abusive and dangerous housing conditions and that such tenants should get compensation payments for the abuse they suffer from slumlords. It should be the case that housing benefit and other taxpayer monies is not paid to ALL slumlords and that ALL slumlords should be banned from operating as landlords and that regulatory and legal systems are put in place to prevent landlords from inflicting abuse.
Nothing will change and we will carry on with a system that sees the tenant of a private landlord be able to get redress (after a tortuous process) yet the tenant of a social landlord cannot get any redress from squalor and abuse the landlord imposes.
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 …
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:
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)
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?
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 …
The social rented sector has its annual “Starts at Home” day today when it celebrates what supported housing achieves which on the surface nothing wrong with that except the usual no more than a few dozen human interest stories alluding to represent the reality for some 700,000 who live in supported housing.
A cherry-picking of stories to allude to the overall picture is par for the course and is always an illusion and frankly a PR con trick. Yet the real bugbear is the chronic innumeracy of the demand for support funding….
The £1.6 billion per year is the central government funding for support called “Supporting People” at the point when the ring fence was removed in 2008/09 which if index-linked to CPI inflation would then have been £2.1 billion per year on its original 2003 figure of £1.8 billion per year.
In short the innumerate SRS is calling for support funding that is over £200 million per year LESS than it was in 2003. Further if we index link the original £1.8 billion pa it comes to £2.62 billion per year today. Moreover, the UK has almost 15% more population in 2021 than in 2003 [68.3m : 59.5m and 14.79%] which strongly suggests the same 14.79% more persons would require support that in turn means the support funding level would need to be £3.01 billion per year and almost double the innumerate demand of £1.6bn.
In essence the ‘great and the good’ of supported housing are saying the vulnerable who require support are worth £1.5 billion per year LESS than they were worth in 2003 some 18 years ago!!
The same ‘great and good’ are saying vulnerable persons who require housing-related support are worth some £30 million per week less than they were 18 years ago in 2003 … and the original £1.8 billion per year was fundamentally inadequate in the first place and could and should have been much higher if it reflected the housing support need back then.
In 2005/06 the Audit Commission asserted that other budgets notably social services and health saved £1.68 for every £1 paid out in support funding which would save £5.06 billion on adult social and health care is the £3.01 billion was paid by government. On the day the media is rife with what taxes are going to be raised to pay for adult social care this more than £2 billion saving realised by paying out £3.01 billion in housing-related support which has and always had a huge preventative agenda in delaying or preventing more costly and more disempowering residential care, the ‘great and good’ of “Starts at Home” have missed a significant trick in NOT selling the benefits of supported housing.
This is all too typical of the social rented sector. We see the same SRS demand capital subsidy funding for 90 – 130,000 new homes per year yet they never say for whom or any other benefit to government. The fact England alone needs at least 100,000 more 1 bedded properties each year to allow the supported housing hostel and refuge system alone to function efficiently is a case in point.
Demands of the “just give us more bloody money” type without stating why or whom this will help and without any benefits of these monetary demands being explained or rationalised to any government only reveals how much the ‘great and the good’ of the social rented sector actually do care for the lot of the housing (bricks and mortar) vulnerable and the housing (support) vulnerable!
In conclusion, the “Starts at Home” incompetent innumerates need to get their own house in order before their demands to put the housing and support vulnerable persons houses and lives in order!
IF anyone or any organisation says or claims that we can end homelessness in England they are lying to you and lying to themselves …
If England had 100 single homeless persons each year it would need 100 1-bedded properties each year to allow single homeless persons to escape homelessness. This is so simple an equation that even all political, housing and homeless ‘experts’ can understand its simplicity and fact.
England however has not less than 150,000 single homeless households each and every year so England needs to provide 150,000 one-bedded properties each year and just to single homeless households.
Official housing data (CORE) reveals England’s council and housing associations between them provided just 11,106 one-bedded properties to single homeless households in 2019/20 and meeting just 7% of the yearly need, you begin to realise the structural problem which means England will never end, never solve and highly probable not even reduce homeless numbers any time soon.
Yet day after day we see social housing professionals claim Everyone In was success and/or it showed rooflessness can be solved with political will and funding … and that all rough sleepers temporarily housed in temporary housing should be given permanent rehousing.
That latter demand – permanent rehousing – shows chronic ignorance of the facts and context of social housing provision which is the only permanent housing available yet it cannot meet well over 90% of the single homeless demand and because the SRS has never built for the housing need of single persons which is further exemplified in the fact 46% of those on waiting lists and 529,000 are there for the one-bedded property.
Housing and homeless ‘experts’ don THE most rose-tinted glasses when they look in the mirror and they refuse to accept the irrefutable facts such as CORE data which they themselves supply!
The 11k one-bedded SRS supply in 2019/20 compares to 13k in 2015/16 and 19k in 2007/08 (*1 below) so this is a worrying trend and a further hardening of the structural problem of a chronic one-bedded social housing shortage in England.
IF anyone or any organisation says or claims that we can end homelessness in England they are lying to you and lying to themselves … QED
Correction *1 – original wrongly stated 2008/09
Here is the Key Findings section of the Moving On report from Crisis in 2017 stating 200,000 single homeless in England per annum and SRS landlords providing just 13,000 properties pa to all single homeless groups …
Moving On: Improving Access to Housing for Single Homeless People in England (2017)
Moving On is a report produced by Crisis studying the scale of single homelessness in England and the barriers single homeless people face accessing social housing. This study has been produced to inform a wider programme of work being carried out by Crisis to improve the availability of homes that single homeless people can afford in both the social and private rented sectors.
Strange how Crisis as purported homeless ‘experts’ now deny their own figures and claim just 16,450 rough sleepers over three years or circa 5,500 per year ONLY need support to transition from street to be able to sustain a tenancy in their collusion (same Crisis author who was seconded) with Centre for Social Justice think tank set up by Iain Duncan Smith report “Close to Home” in 20211
The “Everyone (sic) In” scheme typifies so many initiatives regarding any form of homelessness.
Firstly, the name as far from ‘everyone’ was brought inside and the London CHAIN data suggests that only 30% were brought inside and 70% were still left on the streets. The name was applied to the initiative well after it began as the 37,000 brought in across England and temporarily, was almost NINE TIMES MORE than Government were confident was the true rough sleeper figure of 4,266 in February 2020 and a month before the initiative began.
The naming of this roofless rough sleeper policy was pure political propaganda and nothing more and similar to No Second Night Out and Coming In from the Cold before it which didn’t and never could work as the properties were, are not, and never have been available to permanently rehouse rough sleepers.
That same reason is also why the absurdly propagandist name and theory of Housing First will never ever work as last year official data reveals that social landlords in England ‘gave up’ just 11,106 of the one-bedded properties needed and that figure was to all ‘single homeless’ persons to include hostel dwellers, single women from refuge etc, as well as the roofless rough sleeper.
Today’s BBC website post sees the usual nonsense reply from government and as usual is never challenged or followed up. It says: –
“…the scheme had been “widely recognised as a considerable success”, and that 26,000 people had already moved into longer-term accommodation. The government has also launched a Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme, which it said would fund 6,000 long-term move-on homes for rough sleepers by the end of the parliamentary term.”
Longer-term accommodation does not mean permanent accommodation and in this case it can mean a longer stay night shelter or a homeless hostel room both of which are temporary homeless accommodations and not permanent ones.
“6,000 long-term move-on homes …” – Firstly means government accept that the ‘longer-term accommodations’ are temporary and permanent homes are needed for rough sleepers to move-on to and 6000 in number and by the end of 2024 to address the 37,000 of today and on a wing and a prayer that no new rough sleepers emerge in the next three years is politely a JOFKE – There is no F in joke but this ‘solution’ and claim of government clearly is … and as per usual goes unchallenged.
In all my numerous posts about this, Everyone In was always going to be Everyone Out as the properties used for this temporary initiative, mostly hotels and B&Bs, were ONLY available to rehouse roofless rough sleepers because they were NOT allowed to accommodate their normal customer due to Covid-19 restrictions. This bloody obvious fact was not even discussed when every local authority took to social media proclaiming what a ‘success’ this scheme was claimed to be!
The government response also saw them place inverted commas around the claim of the Everyone (sic) In (sic) scheme being “widely recognised as a considerable success” and it was widely CLAIMED to be a success which is again pure political propaganda and frankly errant nonsense.
This is the tell a lie that people want to believe often enough and then people believe it strategy of which homelessness is riddled with like a plague. A few weeks ago saw a claimed 2nd evaluation report of the three large scale Housing First pilots that did not even bother to evaluate in any shape or form and didn’t even say that these HF schemes are (a) not Housing First models at all and (b) failed to evaluate the cost of them which extrapolates to some £184 per hour of support delivered!!; and (c) failed to include how long each of these HF properties took to even find and was content with a throwaway phrase that said some take a week to find while others take over 12 months just to find a bloody property.
I detailed most of this sham report here for further reading but note since this report social media articles abound as to how much of a “success” these HF pilots are as all of the homeless ‘expert’ organisations, lobbies and consultancy firms seek to make even greater coin at the expense of the poor bastards who are still roofless and homeless with these absurd and baseless claims of “success!”
The apparent “success” and blown out of all hyperbolic proportion is alleged choice and the bullshit level of hyperbolic propaganda seen in an article by the Centre for Homelessness Impact (CHI) published here this week which claimed the Housing First model of these three pilots (even though they are not the HF model or theory which has immediate, permanent and unconditional rehousing and none of these are found in the pilots) is successful because it contains choice! Nobody is doubting that choice is needed or beneficial or right yet to claim these model are ‘success’ because they offer choice is superficial crap yet all too typical of the nonsense that surrounds roofless and homeless policies in England.
There are far too many sycophants in the homeless sector ready to claim ‘success’ for anything yet in doing so all they achieve is make the lot of the roofless rough sleeper and any other homeless cohort worse by lauding policies which are all about being seen to do something yet actually achieving nothing except to make it worse!
I have frequently criticised Shelter and with good cause though I welcome this report as at least it shows they are willing to challenge government policy even if it is way too late as in the this case as far too many have already said that Everyone In was ‘success’ and far too many want to believe this propagandist nonsense
“Remember this also: it’s always easy to look back and see what we were, yesterday, ten years ago. It is hard to see what we are. If you can master that trick, you’ll get along.”
Go Set A Watchman
I finally got around to reading Go Set A Watchman the follow up to To Kill a Mockingbird from which the above advice is given to Scout by her Uncle Jack in its denouement.
The quote resonates much more with the ‘social housing’ concept of today with far too many believing that council and housing association landlords are ‘social’ and imbued with an ethereal social purpose… and who will always house those most in housing need, blah, blah, blah.
The trick is believing that the adjective ‘social’ applies in any form when put before landlord, housing, rented sector, purpose or ethos which it doesn’t as this nostalgia ‘trick’ more closely resembles the money trick in the Ragged Trousered Philanthropist especially as so many in or formerly in housing still assert and so desperately want to believe the trick that the adjective ‘social’ is in any way appropriate or extant to the reality.
It is NOT what housing associations ever were it is a case of what these correctly labelled Private Registered Providers are and have become today and what they want to be when they rid themselves of the housing benefit dependent tenant seeing the turnover from rent of these G15 Group 600,000 PRP / HA properties increase from £3.5 billion to £10.5 billion per year.
This happens with the affordable (sic) rent conversion which triples the social rent level rent in London and is only achievable when the existing social rent level paying tenants leave for any reason such as they cannot afford to rent them which is precisely what the CPI+1% rent increase demand from the G15 Group means. Pricing out the housing benefit dependent tenant households achieves this and allows for massive social to affordable rent conversion that TRIPLES the G15 Group rent roll.
The fact this can happen is THE point and it is meaningless to argue and debate whether this is the aim of PRP landlords or not and they comprise 60% of what we incredulous still call social housing in England. It is perfectly lawful to operate this No DSS by the backdoor allocation as ALL landlords can say we treat each case on its own affordability merit and do not operate a blanket NO DSS policy (which is unlawful.) PRP landlords can and do refuse nominations from the local authority on affordability and a 2017 study by Sheffield University and commissioned by CIH found that 58% of all such nominations were refused on the LETWA basis – Limited Entitlement To Welfare Assistance – by housing associations with this euphemism for NO DSS.
The question of WHY housing association landlords would want to operate this LETWA / NO DSS policy is found in the £7 billion per year increase in rent it could see just in the G15 Group of landlords in London. Would any private company which HAs are and in any sector turn down the option of tripling their income? The only realistic answer has to be no they would not and such an answer is not cynical it is cold blooded pragmatism. The G15 Group would get far more in revenue subsidy from this £7 billion more per year in rent than they could ever get in capital subsidy from government and it frees them from any government constraints and removes their reliance on government subsidy, they can become the unencumbered full private landlords they want to be – and all of this is permissible by government policy and indeed incentivised by it!
If it’s a sin to kill a Mockingbird its a far greater moral sin to abandon those most in housing need including 1.5 million existing HA households who receive housing benefit or its UC equivalent yet government policy allows this. The G15 Group proposal places them at the far-right, swivel-eyed-loon faction of the Conservative Party who believe that the ‘poor’ have no right to live in prime real estate London and should be transported to Hull or Middlesbrough or any other ‘opp North’ location.
The only watchmen the SRS has is waking watchmen in security guards looking out for cladding fires for which they charge their ‘customers’ huge service charges for allowing their ‘customers’ to live in fire death traps and for which this same government permits them to do and as the ITV News abuse scandal has revealed the official Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) is in the pocket of the G15 Group landlords such as Clarion and has no remit it claims to even speak with those tenant ‘customers’ and declares there is nothing to see here!
The same G15 Group who can read the same ‘what if’ figures it took me 5 minutes to produce of the SRS housing benefit household paying £201 each month just to make the rent in 2026 when today they have to pay zero in housing benefit top-up … and same G15 Group whose websites proclaim they are social landlord with social purpose coursing through their veins blah, blah, blah!
Look at that ‘what if’ table of figures again (below) and indeed don’t take my word for it but do your own bog-standard excel spreadsheet and see for yourselves what the figures inevitably reveal … that the watchman has been tricked into wearing the blindfold of nostalgia and cannot see the housing benefit NO GO ZONE that the G15 Group seek to engineer so they can triple their rent income!
Yesterday I set the cat amongst the pigeons by detailing what the inflation-busting CPI+1% rent increase demand for 30 years of social (sic) landlords means.
Below I have modified this table of figures to a CPI inflation rate of 2% which means council and housing associations rents will increase by 3% per year and some other numerical points. So, let’s cut to the chase.
Table 1 – 2% CPI inflation thus 3% social rent increases in the OBC context
How to read this table of numbers
In the row which begins “2021” I use as benchmark the SRS household whose maximum overall benefit covers their subsistence level other benefits and all of their rent being paid in housing benefit (or UC housing cost element.)
Now move to the row beginning “2026” and is the first row highlighted with a red block and you find the original ‘other benefit income’ of the SRS household has been increased by 2% CPI inflation a year which becomes £1288 pcm in 5 years.
The next cell in that row sees the Overall Benefit Cap (OBC) limit remain the same as today as the limit has never been increased with inflation and indded has been cut in actual and real terms and would be £2,387 pcm and £720 more per month is it had been index linked to its 2013 starting point.
By subtracting the £1,288 from the £1,667 overall benefit cap limit leaves a maximum of £379 per month in housing benefit to pay the social housing rent of £580 per month. Note the original 2021 figure of £500 monthly rent has increased by the demand CPI+1% amount or 3% for each of the intervening years to become this £580 pcm figure by 2026.
The next three cells in that row are the important ones. Firstly they reveal that the same SRS household who paid zero towards their rent today (2021) now need to find £201 each and every month out of their subsistence level social security benefit just to meet the rent. This is also £201 more than the £0 paid each money today in 2021.
The next cell reveals this £201 pcm more in percentage of their benefit income which is 15.61% of subsistence level benefit intended for all other expenditure than housing costs, such as food, utlities, council tax, clothing etc having to be spent on rent to the ‘social’ landlord instead of food etc.
The final cell, the rightmost column, shows this £201 pcm rent top up amounts to an effective cut in housing benefit of 35% of the housing benefit received in 2021! NB: The maximum bedroom tax cut to housing benefit is 25% and where the household has 2 more bedrooms than their need and make what you will of that comparison!
Now go down to the row beginning 2031 (the second red boxed figures) which shows the numbers for ten years time of a decade of 2% CPI inflation and of 3% social housing rent inflation.
The household benefit income has increased by this 2% CPI inflation to become £1423 which leaves by the way the zero-sum OBC policy works a maximum monthly amount of housing benefit payable of £244 against the monthly social housing rent that has by 2031 increased to £672 due to yearly 3% inflation demand by social landlords leaving the benefit household to find £428 each and every month out of their subsistence level benefit income intended for food and fuel etc just to pay the rent.
A whopping 30% of their benefit income over and above what is paid in housing benefit needs to be paid as rent and this means an effective housing benefit cut of 64% compared to 2021 by 2031.
The figures are not a contrived statistical con trick but are perfectly valid and with the Bank of England this week forecasting 4% CPI inflation by the end of 2021 assuming it will be just 2% in September 2021 the month which determines next years benefit and rent increases is likely to be an understatement of inflation.
The figures, which I restate are valid and a basic arithemtic projection, reveal the ‘systemic flaw’ in the Overall Benefit Cap policy of rising inflation increasing all other benefits and rising rents all meaning en ever reducing maximum housing benefit payable due to the zero-sum nature of the policy. I first detailed and labelled this as “systemic flaw” in 2011 and two years before the policy was introduced in 2013.
Social and all other landlords are well aware of the OBC and its systemic flaw and to be brief when it began in 2013 it largely affected just those SRS tenant households with 4,5 or more children when today in 2021 it hits and cuts the housing benefit of SRS households with just 2 children.
The OBC impact of ever reducing housing benefit which sees more and more benefit tenants on the arrears to eviction to homeless pathway that more closely resembles an elephant going down a slalom ski slope and attempting to stop.
Can the housing benefit dependent household afford to pay £201 each month to top up their social housing rent from their subsistence level benefit income? (Note: this means all households dependent on housign benefit in whole or part so includes those on low pay and disabled and incapacitated households)
What are the consequences for homelessness and for those nostalgic concepts of housing need and a social housing safety net? Or indeed the many who peddle the legal myth that housing is a human right?
I can think of dozens more and especially when I have taken 30 seconds to vary the table above with the social security benefit income a lone parent with one child in a 1 bed affordable rent property in my low rent home city of Liverpool.
Leave aside the ‘trifling’ matter of her being overcrowded and today, she will just about get all her rent met in housing benefit; yet in 2026 and in 5 years time she will need to find £145 each and every month to pay her social (sic) housing rent – money out of the mouth of babes because a ‘social’ landlord demands an inflation-busting rent increase year on year.
Instead of my giving more illustrations I ask the reader to develop their own bog-standard spreadsheet like my table above. In short, don’t take my word for it and see for yourself what the numbers say, the numbers that unlike politicians or landlords never lie.
Social housing rent increases will soon be the greatest cause of homelessness in England. In 10 years time, at the latest, no household in ‘social’ housing will get housing benefit and there will be no ‘social’ housing at all!
Bold claims yet regrettably true as the numbers do not lie. Read on…
The influential G15 Group, a lobby for the largest housing associations in London, this week demanded that Government sanction rents increasing by CPI plus 1%, the current rent formula, continues until 2054 and for the 30 years after the current CPI+1% rent formula ends in 2024. So if CPI inflation is 3% in September 2021 then rents increase by 4% from April 2022. This rent formula will apply across England and to council and HA rents.
The homelessness issue is the interaction of rising rents with the overall benefit cap (OBC) policy which the G15 Group has wholly ignored in its 30 year demand for inflation-busting rent increases and this interaction will see ALL social landlords:
Evict their existing benefit / low paid / disabled households, and
Never again rent to benefit / low paid / disabled households.
Over 60% of all social tenant households are dependent in whole or part on the payment of housing benefit to meet their rent and form these benefit / low paid / disabled households and the Overall Benefit Cap policy is at play vicariously.
How the OBC policy works is crucial as it is designed to cut housing benefit. All other benefit and welfare income is subtracted from the OBC limit which leaves a residual maximum housing benefit payable. It deliberately creates the arrears to eviction to homeless pathway and is designed that way and as the OBC limit or cap is a constant limit it means when all other benefits increase by CPI inflation it leaves an ever reducing maximum housing benefit payable that sees reducing housing benefit payable towards ever increasing rent therefore more at risk benefit / low paid / disabled households with far greater housing benefit shortfalls.
On currently known factors this CPI+1% rent increase demand will see council and housing associations have ZERO tenant households claiming housing benefit in ten years!
Lets look at the detail which is basic arithmetic projection which explains all of the above.
Scenario: The OBC monthly limit of £1667 sees the SRS tenant household receive £1167 in other benefit and tax credits and a monthly rent of £500 and the household is in 2021 at the cap limit. In April 2022 these other subsistence benefits increase by CPI of 3% and the rent increases by 4%.
Table 1 – 3% CPI inflation and 4% SRS rent increases meet the OBC
The table shows the systemic impact of the overall benefit cap policy which has a constant limit interacting with ‘other benefit’ increasing yearly by inflation, and SRS rent levels increasing by CPI inflation plus 1% which is the social landlord demand.
In just 5 years time (2026) we see the SRS household who had no housing benefit shortfall (2021) have to find £294 each month from other subsistence level benefits to meet the social housing rent. Outcome is these existing tenants will have been evicted and made homeless by this time and no new housing benefit dependent tenants will have been granted a social housing tenancy.
In 10 year times (2031) we find the SRS household who had no housing benefit shortfall (2021) have to find £641 each month from other subsistence level benefits to meet the social housing rent!
Finally, by 2034 the same SRS household will get nothing in housing benefit towards their rent and get £34 less in other subsistence benefits to pay their monthly rent of £879!
Now lets look at another SRS household, a much smaller one who currently have £200 per month ‘headroom’ with the Overall Benefit Cap interaction with SRS rents – a starting other benefit income of £967 per calendar month – and look at the same CPI+1% rent increase impact.
Table 2 – 3% CPI and 4% rent rises meeting the OBC (smaller household)
In just 5 years time (2026) we see the SRS household who had £200 per month ‘headroom’ (2021) will have to pay £62 each month from their subsistence level benefit to meet the rent … which in 10 years time (2031) sees the same household have to find £373 each month from subsistence level benefits to meet the social housing rent!
Numbers do not LIE and only politicians and social landlords do in the above tables that a 7 year-old with a rudimentary grasp of arithmetic or an Excel spreadsheet could demonstrate in 5 minutes. The systemic flaw in the OBC policy of a constant cap figure set against inflationary welfare benefits and rising rents I first outlined in 2011 and ahead of the OBC policy beginning in 2013. Politicians and landlords have had 8 years to witness the systemic flaw and for example ALL council and HA landlords will know that in 2013 the OBC only affected the SRS household with 5 children while today it catches the household with 2 children.
SRS landlords know full well how inflation-busting rent increases interact with the overall benefit cap policy and so SRS landlords demanding CPI+1% for the next 30 years also means that the same SRS landlords know it means they cannot accommodate ANY household dependent on housing benefit / UC housing cost element by 2026 at the latest.
Social housing WILL become a benefit / low paid / disabled household no-go area within 5 years as all existing housing benefit dependent households are evicted and no new housing benefit dependent households are accommodated.
Currently if 60% of SRS households are reliant on housing benefit this means ….
2.6 MILLION EXISTING SOCIAL HOUSING HOUSEHOLDS WILL BE EVICTED BY SRS LANDLORDS BY 2026. – Yes, reader, that really does deserve big shouty capital letters!!
The asocial innumeracy of the purportedly ‘social’ landlords
The numbers do not lie and the demonstrable facts and outcomes that flow from the CPI+1% rent increase demand reveal that the ‘social’ landlord imbued with ‘social’ ethos is the biggest possible myth. It also reveals that the same ‘social’ (sic) landlords who are demanding CPI+1% rent rises are so stupid they do not see this rent formula demand will put them out of business within a decade at most and the ‘social housing concept’ will forever be resigned to nostalgia and history.
Where the hell will the housing benefit dependent household live?
This, of course, is THE greatest problem with the systemic flaw in the ideological OBC policy as the same OBC policy interacting with the norm of inflation-busting SRS rent formulae guarantees NO DSS and No JOB NO HOME and ANY DISABILITY NO HOME.
The numbers DO NOT FUCKING LIE you collective bunch of innumerate incompetents though doubtless we will see the same innumerate incompetents who make up the ‘great and good’ of social (sic) housing adopt attack the messenger strategies to defend their innumerate incompetent greed in demanding what they see as an inflation-busting SRS rent increase birthright as they are so wedded to the notion that there is nothing untoward in inflation-busting rent increases for council and housing association landlords.
I have no need to ‘speculate’ on the average size of the disabled rough sleeper families littering our streets or to say the streets of leafy Guildford in ten years time will be far worse than the streets of Kandahar today which they will. The homeless apocalypse is unimaginable if the CPI+1% inflation-busting rent demand of the G15 comes to pass which the NUMBERS IRREFUTABLY PROVE BEYOND ANY DOUBT.
Of course the Overall Benefit Cap policy has to go and is the primary problem that the inflation-busting SRS rent demand exacerbates, but that likelihood is regrettably remote and borne of 10 years of innumerate incompetence and craven shithousery by all political opposition parties who have never publicly challenged this policy and merely tutted at the dozens of poverty porn TV programmes which ensure its myths and lies become what the electorate believes in the ‘benefit scrounger’ narratives.
The current outrage over an £86 per month cut to Universal Credit sees absolute silence over the near £720 per month real term cut there has been to the overall benefit cap limit since its introduction in 2013. If the 2013 limit of £26,000 pa had been index-linked with CPI inflation it would today be £28,642 per year yet it is £20,000 pa and £8,642 pa and £720 pcm cut in real terms – which is why the OBC policy hits those with 2 children today and makes them homeless when on implementation it only hit families with 5 children.
How often do I need to say NUMBERS DON’T LIE?
This week the Bank of England projected CPI inflation may hit 4% by the end of this calendar year so while the 3% CPI and thus 4% rent increases are higher then the average increases for the last few years the illustrated 3% CPI is not at all improbable. However, what is illustrated even if CPI inflation is lower this year or in subsequent years the exact same systemic effect happens and it is only a question of WHEN and not IF the social rented sector bans all tenants dependent on housing benefit.
The innumerate incompetents who form the G15 Group who are hell bent on shooting all social housing in the foot with a canon …
UPDATE 30 minutes after post went live
I projected the “Blame The Messenger” strategy would happen from the innumerate incompetents of ‘social’ (sic) housing and right on cue:
Note well Reuben does not dispute the numbers as he can’t and also note well where Reuben works at Netwwork Homes … one of the G15 cabal group of London housing associations from the graphic above …
Reuben, apologies, THE Reuben Young, typifies the social housing ‘professional’ who refuses to see what the irrefutable numbers that the exact science of arithmetic produces. Far easier to blame the messenger than engage (that lovely social housing term reader) with the facts of the matter.
One wonders whether his CEO at Network Homes Helen Evans is similarly blinded by the irrefutable numbers and if Darrell Mercer CEO at A2 Dominion is similar myopic and Ian McDermott CEO at Catalyst or Clare Millier CEO at Clarion and Neal Ackcral CEO at Hyde and Fiona Fletcher-Smith CEO and L&Q and Geeta Nanda CEO at MTV and Kate Davies CEO at NHG and Richard Hill CEO at One Housing and Paul Hackett CEO at Optivo and Brendan Sarsfield CEO at Peabody and Alan Townshend CEO at Southern … who collectively form the G15 cabal group that evidently do not care about their ‘customer’ and whether or not they can afford their housing!
These are the 12 housing association CEOs who all sit around the G15 table and who have decided to rid social housing of the benefit household and everyone of them is a Judas to the housing safety net and Welfare State housing pillar upon which free education and free NHS healthcare are dependent.
If irony is your bag, then look at the G15 website or any of the websites of these dozen housing association G15 members and they are resplendent and acutely self-aggrandizing in their beneficence over how they are knights in shining armour who are imbued with social purpose and social ethos and who will ALL always house those most in housing need!
To answer Reuben directly I presume he is referring to 7 years ago and BEFORE Government stopped paying for the third or subsequent child in child tax credits. Each household received from memory £53.50 per week more in what I label ‘other benefit / welfare’ which due to the zero sum nature of the OBC policy meant their maximum housing benefit payable was reduced by £53.50 per week for each child over the two children that tax credits paid for. A policy which has received widespread condemnation but an unforeseen policy change nonetheless.
Reuben is ‘not soft’ and knows this full well. He is merely being a deliberate propagandist for his G15 employer and yet still refuses to face the reality of what the OBC meeting inflation-busting rent increases means. This, as I said in the original post TYPIFIES the incompetent innumerates and reality-denying money grabbers who run these ‘charitable’ housing association constructs and who own and manage 60% of what we ludicrously label as ‘social’ housing.
TWO + TWO always equals FOUR Reuben and the £22 billion per year turnover and £6 billion+ pa profit you and your HA colleagues make each year of which £10 billion comes from housing benefit / UC housing cost element is dying a death too … which you perversely celebrate with your denial of what the irrefutable numbers say! Good luck with your myopia!
There is widespread condemnation of the government plan to cut Universal Credit by £86 per month and rightly; yet total silence on the £717 per month cut and 12 TIMES the UC cut that the government has already made to the Overall Benefit Cap policy since its introduction in 2013.
It is in this context that we need to see the demand to increase social rented sector rents by inflation plus a further one per cent and which will see social housing refuse to accommodate all disabled, all benefit tenants and all low paid tenants on affordability grounds within 5 years.
Where will they live?
The G15 Group, the largest housing associations in London have demanded government guarantee a CPI+1% yearly social housing rent increase until 2054 – a 30 year guarantee starting from 2025 when the existing CPI+1% rent formula ends. Make no mistake these rent increases WILL mean:
Existing SRS tenants who are (a) benefit, (b) low pay and (c) disabled households will be made homeless on the arrears to eviction to homeless path.
No benefit, low pay or disabled households will be given any of the 300,000 council or housing association properties that become available each year
This is not conjecture, this is irrefutable fact and is what the numbers demonstrate and it follows as inevitably as night follows day. A 7 year-old with a rudimentary knowledge of an Excel spreadsheet would come to the same conclusion as would the most experienced economist yet the G15 Group seemingly cannot see this or perhaps they can and they do not want any benefit, low paid or disabled tenants occupying the 600,000 properties they own?
The OBC context and how this will happen?
The benefit, lowly paid and disabled households all rely wholly or in part on housing benefit to pay toward their social housing rent. The housing benefit element is the first social security benefit to be reduced or removed entirely in the overall benefit cap (OBC) zero sum policy. It works by firstly aggregating ALL other benefits and tax credits which is then is then deducted from the OBC limit to leave a maximum residual amount of the maximum housing benefit that is payable.
The OBC process is a double-whammy policy that (a) reduces the housing benefit amount when all other benefits increase; and (b) these reductions in the maximum housing benefit go toward an ever increasing rent level.
The overall benefit cap limit has reduced starkly in real terms since its introduction in 2013. In 2013 the OBC limit was £2,167 per household per calendar month. In 2021 it is £1,667 per household per calendar month. If the original £2,166 pcm had been increased with CPI inflation today it would be £2,384 pcm so it is a £717 pcm cut in real terms. It is this context in which the proposal to increase SRS rents by more than inflation has to be viewed, a context that is unavoidable and correct and one that has been wholly ignored by the G15 Group of purportedly social landlords
For comparison we see condemnation of the government plan to cut Universal Credit by £86 pcm from September and the OBC cut of £717 pcm is TWELVE TIMES the proposed Universal Credit cut from next month.
The OBC impact of CPI+1% rent increases
The current CPI rate is 2.5% and if this is the same in September 2021 it means in April 2022 that benefit levels increase by 2.5% and social housing rents increase by 3.5%. Assume that probability and we can illustrate this as simply as we can by saying the OBC monthly limit of £1,667 sees the household receive £1,167 in benefit and tax credits and pays a monthly rent of £500. The £1,667 OBC limit sees the subsistence level of benefit paid and all of the rent and zero to pay in a rent top-up for the SRS benefit household.
The simple table above illustrates the zero sum nature of the Overall Benefit Cap policy and reveals that the social tenant household today whose benefit income means ALL of the rent in paid in housing benefit will need to pay £247 each month towards their rent in 5 years time due to subsistence level benefit increasing by inflation and SRS rents by inflation plus a further 1%.
In 5 years time the benefit household will need to find £247 per month which is £3,570 per year out of their subsistence level benefit to pay the shortfall in social housing rent.
The inevitabilities are (a) the existing SRS benefit household is made homeless by arrears to eviction; and (b) the prospective benefit tenant is refused social housing as they cannot afford to pay the rent – the NO DSS issue.
Where will the benefit tenant live when they can’t afford the cheapest form of rented housing?
Perhaps we can ask the G15 Group of allegedly ‘social’ landlords?
I have added the famous Charles Dickens quote from David Copperfield as it aptly illustrates what the inflation-busting rent increase proposals (which Government is likely to approve) will mean.
Homelessness will rocket and homeless departments of every local authority in the country will be inundated with far higher homeless presentations and face a perverse Catch 22 reality. LAs will firstly find it harder to source temporary homeless accommodation that needs to be fully disability-compliant as 54% of SRS households have a disability within them according to EHS official figures.
Even assuming disability-compliant TA can be sourced by the LA the basic arithmetic means the homeless household can only ever leave that TA if they find a job else the OBC and rent rises combine to exclude the homeless households in TA from the cheapest (i.e. social) rented housing option. It means the average time a homeless household will spend in temporary accommodation (TA) will inevitably increase and thus cost local and central governments far more!
These issues will apply to single homeless households as well as family homeless households and so all current government plans to reduce homelessness such as eliminating rough sleeping are frankly ‘pissing in the wind’ policies. The perverse and sycophantic love affairs that Crisis has with the Housing First Model and Shelter has generally with the ‘beneficent’ social landlords will have to cease and desist and enforce a far more realistic approach from these two national homeless lobbies.
The stark numbers as illustrated also mean a fundamental reconsideration of the Overall Benefit Cap policy is needed and by all actors. The likes of JRF and the CAB and all poverty / welfare lobbies who are outraged at the £86 per month imminent UC cut will HAVE to look at the £717 pcm real term cut to the benefit households that the OBC policy has already seen and ahead of any pandemic impact. ALL of the political opposition parties – noting that not ONE has ever publicly had the abolition of the OBC as policy – will need to wake up and smell the coffee and frankly, grow a set of balls to come out against this despite 8 years of political apathy towards this policy.
To the closed minds of the right wing commentators such as many private landlords who frequently assert to my many OBC related posts that the OBC is more than enough for indolent benefit scoungers etc (and state London and other higher rent areas should simply export their OBC homeless to cheaper rent areas of the UK) perhaps we should think about a similar 43% reduction in real terms to maximum LHA rates to see if they think that is enough to live on? Is a 43% reduction in local housing allowance enough for private landlords as that is the argument they are asserting would mean if applied to them!! Cue outrage!
The same current political arguments proffered by Rishi Sunak that the £20 per week cut to Universal Credit is a financial incentive to find work and thus ‘justifiable’ deliberately omit that many ‘workless’ households are unable to work due to incapacity or disability never mind the recession that Brexit and the pandemic has caused. It is a fallacious argument riddles with easily disproved superficiality that all “work will set you free” arguments hold. Yet this is a national debate of huge controversy and high-up on the political agenda when the TWELVE TIMES MORE poverty cut found in the OBC – at £717 pcm to UC’s £86 pcm cut -sees no controvery and no discussion on the political agenda!
The question of where will the disabled household live as they cannot afford the cheapest rented housing and the ‘social’ landlord WILL undoubtedly not allocate to new disabled households and WILL HAVE TO evict the vast majority of current SRS ‘disabled households’ is as offensive as it gets. Despite OBC exemptions for households in receipt of ESA SG / UC LCW (full) and for those receiving PIP or DLA, these ‘exemptions’ stop the minute that these social security benefits cease and do not continue in the more than 14 months it can take to have those initial benefit decisions overturned at tribunal (and three-quarters of them are overturned in the claimants favour) yet that is still 14 months of disabled households having to pay the illustrated £247 pcm rent top ups and essentially a massive financial risk way too far for the ‘social’ landlord to take on existing and all future ‘disabled / incapacitated households!’
It is not only the OBC policy that needs to be abolished it is the discredited ‘fit for work’ and ‘disability’ assessments that need scrapping – and when 3 in every 4 assessment decisions get overturned when considered for their legality at tribunal, there can be no doubt these are fully discredited policies – policies which directly increase homelessness for incapacitated and disabled households! That is the unfortunate reality of the Conservatives ‘welfare reform’ policies and direct cause of ever increasing homelessness.
The stated aim of the Conservative’s DLA to PIP policy in the original impact assessment was to take away disability benefit from half a million households. Couple that with the fact that 54% of existing SRS households include a disability (English Housing Survey) and you have a longstanding recipe for making more disabled households homeless. It is not rocket science or is it the scaremongering label ascribed to all of my posts since 2012 about the inevitable impacts of the Overall Benefit Cap policy.
The very same SRS housing ‘experts’ such as the G15 who today say my assertions over the continuation of the CPI+1% rent increases are false and who ignore the simple yet valid illustration above which proves I am right were the same SRS ‘experts’ who said the OBC policy only affects the PRS tenant in high rent areas and with loads of children when it began and today they see that a dully occupied two bed SRS property at the social rent level can see that household hit with the housing benefit cut that the OBC policy sees!
Here is the G15 Group lying to one of the three candidates for the next Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Housing in a tweet this morning over my first expose of their CPI+1% innumerate rent increase plan!
It is so much easier to deny and deliberately lie and/or label something as ‘scaremongering’ which is precisely what the entirety of the social rented sector landlords have been saying ever since I posted my first OBC and housing related blog back in 2011.
The G15, the CIH, the NHF and every other social (ahem!) housing lobby and professional and all other actors in the social housing and related homeless and poverty fields can NO LONGER deny that the Overall Benefit Cap policy kills off ‘housing need’ and the ‘social housing’ concept and reality. Their views are not out of ignorance as they have all seen the reality and impact of the policy. They are simply known lies from these social housing ‘experts’ who bury their heads up their own backsides as deliberate deflection strategy.
Two plus two always equals four yet the social housing ‘experts’ believe this to be untrue in their zeal to sweat as much profit out of the most vulnerable tenants with their inflation busting rent demands in the context of the OBC policy.
The extra £7 billion pa in rent? Uses the same official rent data figures for 2015/16 (now much higher) of the Clarion Housing 2 bed property in Bromley at a social rent of £112 per week and an affordable (sic) rent of £335 per week. Multiply the difference by all 600,000 G15 Group properties and you get this additional £7 billion pa in rent income.
Just get rid of the existing SR paying tenant and replace with the AR paying tenant of this example I first used 5 years ago here and have consistently used since. NB Many of Clarion’s SR to AR rents are even higher than this tripling of rent so this is not an outlier for London