G15 ‘social’ landlords seek to ban the benefit tenant and the low paid one – which they will if they get their way!!

London’s 15 largest housing associations have proposed a policy that will ban ALL benefit claimants from accessing ‘social’ housing within the next 5 years and make ‘social housing’ all over England become a no go zone for anyone reliant in whole or in part on social security benefit.

The G15 group, the largest 15 housing associations in London, are demanding that government allow social housing rents to increase by 1% above CPI inflation for the next 30 years after the same original formula [CPI+1%] ends in 2025. The G15 group demand this for London yet know that it will be applied right across England and to Registered Providers (RP) i.e. council landlords and not just Private Registered Providers (PRP) i.e. housing associations.

This is dangerous commercial as well as social madness and is the typical deluded vacuum theory of the G15 group at play once again in its myopic delusional focus that ignores any other housing or social policy variable; or a proposal that a bunch of 7 year-olds in a debating society would dismiss as dangerous illogical madness.

For example it means that all existing ‘benefit households’ will be shortly and rapidly evicted from ‘social’ housing due to increasing non-affordability and no new ‘benefit households’ will ever become social tenants due to the same non-affordability issue which we can call No DSS or No Job No Home or Any Disability No Home as all being correct. Reader, be in no doubt this is not scaremongering but irrefutable fact and reality as I detail below in which I try to avoid asking what planet do these ignorant deluded fuckwits called the G15 reside which is the obvious question.

Financial

The G15 demand a 30 year policy from 2025 to 2054 of social housing rent increases of 1% above CPI inflation. In 2 minutes you can easily populate a spreadsheet to crunch the numbers assuming CPI inflation averages the government target of 2% (it is currently higher) and assume the status quo of housing supply and current proportion of affordable rent versus social rent levels and all other things being equal. The baseline is English Private Registered Providers the correct name for housing associations had a turnover of £21.8 billion realising a profit of £6.3 billion in the latest available yearly data.

With a CPI inflation figure of 2% and the added 1% above inflation increase demanded by the G15:

  1. Turnover increases to £57.8 billion by 2054
  2. Profit increases to £16.44 billion in 2054
  3. PRP Housing Benefit incomes increases by £21 billion per year

With a CPI inflation increase of just 2% and no added increase on top:

  1. Turnover increases to £41.9 billion pa
  2. Profit increases by £11.99 billion pa
  3. HB receipt increases by £12 billion pa

The seemingly innocuous additional 1% over and above CPI inflation makes a massive difference:

  1. Turnover and thus how much more rent is charged pa by 2054 is up £15.9 billion per year
  2. Profit of England’s PRPs (housing associations) increases by £4.45 billion pa more
  3. PRPs receive £9 billion pa more in housing benefit (& or UC housing cost element)

The difference that the additional 1% rent increase makes over and above inflation is staggering and not innocuous at all as the numbers demonstrate and as stated previously the government cannot limit permitted rent increases or the maximum rent formula demanded of CPI+1% to just housing associations or just London or just London housing associations, it is the rent formula governing all social landlords, council (RP) and housing association (PRP) across the whole of England.

Overall Benefit Cap policy and impact

The OBC policy operates as the maximum amount of benefit a household can receive and currently set at £20,000 per year and £1667 per calendar month. It is worked out by deducting all benefit and what was tax credit income from this £1667 limit leaving a maximum residual that can be paid as housing benefit.

Imagine a household today has a benefit / tax credit income of £1200 per calendar month which when deducted from the £1667 cap leaves £447 as the maximum payable in housing benefit. The rent is £450 pcm so all but £3 per month is paid in housing benefit towards rent. Now factor in benefit / welfare increases of 2% per year and rent increases of 3% per year.

2021 Maximum HB £447 pcm set against monthly SRS rent of £450 pcm = £3 pcm HB shortfall

2022 Maximum HB is £443 as income rises 2% from £1200 to £1224 and rent is £464 with 3% increase = £21 pcm shortfall

2026 The first year of the new 30 year CPI+1% rent formula with OBC limit still £1667 pcm.

Rent has increased to £507 pcm with yearly 3% rent increases and other benefit/welfare income increased to £1320 pcm with 2% yearly increases. The maximum housing benefit payable is £1667 less £1320 and £347 per month in housing benefit to pay for a rent that has increased to £506 pcm for a monthly shortfall in housing benefit of £159.

In 5 years times the exact same period of the G15 demand as CPI+1% is already the rent formula until 2025 in the context of the OBC policy and benefits up 2% pa and rents up 3% pa a negligible £3 per month shortfall in housing benefit today becomes a £159 per month shortfall meaning all existing social tenants are on the arrears to eviction to homeless pathway and all prospective benefit tenants will never be allocated the social housing property due to affordability.

2030 Sees total benefit / tax credit become £1429 per month leaving £237 as the maximum monthly housing benefit yet the 3% rent increases have taken today’s £450pcm rent up to £570 pcm – a housing benefit shortfall of £313 per calendar month and more than 100 times the £3 pcm shortfall of today

The numbers and basic arithmetic reveal this not any subjective or moral assertion that could be labelled as scaremongering. Two plus two always equals four.

Allocation of social housing and social purpose (hahaha!)

Today as I discussed and detailed yet again recently (here) social rented housing is already operating a No DSS allocation that is rapidly approaching a No Job No Home policy. ALL 3 bed and larger social housing properties are No DSS to all fully-occupying households due to the overall benefit cap policy and the bedroom tax demand to fully populate all new social housing due to bedroom tax. Many 2 bed SRS properties fully populated are at this level in higher rent areas and/or the 200,000 ‘affordable’ (sic) rent properties each having an average 47% higher rent level than the typical social rent model. In some areas this also applies to the 1 bedded SRS property as well.

The proposed CPI+1% rent increases mean at 2% CPI that rent will increase by 3% and if social security benefit increase by CPI then by 2%. In as little as 5 years this will mean as the numbers starkly and unambiguous reveal that no existing or prospective household in the SRS will get their full rent paid by housing benefit or UC housing cost element. Every SRS household will be forced to top-up their housing benefit with other subsistence level benefits they receive. And every year a higher percentage of benefit income will be spent on rent. IF the national minimum wage increases by (just) CPI each year and/or all wages rise by inflation only or less then all employed SRS tenants will have to spend a higher percentage of their wage income on SRS rent.

Millions of existing SRS households on benefit or on minimum wage become at ever-greater risk of the arrears to eviction to homeless pathway.

The same applies to all prospective SRS tenants seeking the 300,000+ new SRS properties that become available each year and they will be denied social housing on grounds of affordability as both No DSS and No Job No Home become the central basis of SRS allocation. The phrase ‘housing-need’ becomes nothing more then nostalgic whimsy.

This is the deluded vacuum policy of the G15 money-grabbing bastards as they wholly ignore every other housing, housing benefit and social policies in their myopic drive to increase their profits.

The benefit household and even the minimum wage household see social housing become a no go zone that they will be prevented from accessing. I say ‘social’ housing when it is clear that the 1% rent increase over and above inflation demand means there is no such thing as ‘social’ housing and its demise caused by asocial landlord greed.

The allocation of both council and especially housing association properties becomes devoid of housing need and devoid of social purpose or indeed any similarly related claims the blinkered idiots who live in the SRS bubble love to state it is.

All of the above is NOT scaremongering in any way; rather it is what the irrefutable numerical facts say and starkly say and cannot be denied by the innumerate dickheads of the G15 or any other SRS lobby or quarter.

The real issues and direct manifestations

Imagine the massive increases in homelessness!

Now scratch the surface and imagine the massive increases in disabled and incapacitated homeless households who are not ‘workless’ by any form or design but solely because they have been refused social housing by the purported social landlords on affordability grounds!

Those poor social landlords who are now pouring thousands into employment training for existing social tenants (aka teaming up with the largest zero hours minimum wage paying local employers) only to find they will have to spend far more as they will be refusing prospective tenants on minimum wage as this is not enough to afford social (sic) housing even at the social rent level … whilst the same landlords laugh in the face of any prospective tenant on benefit including those who are disabled or incapacitated who laughingly still thinks they have a chance of being housed.

By the way the authoritative English Housing Survey says 54% of existing SRS households have a disability so local authorities need to be sourcing temporary homeless accommodation that is full disability compliant for the mass increase in existing disabled households evicted because of the 1% above inflation rent increases demanded. Good luck with that local authority homeless departments!!

Instead of disability groups rightfully moaning that they cannot negotiate around cars parked irresponsibly on pavements we will see petit bourgeois social housing ‘professionals’ demanding the police or the local authority clear the parks of disabled rough sleepers so they can do their park run in their latest £200 a pair trainers and avoid tripping over their wheelchairs parked outside their tents!

The same social (sic) landlords who say they support Housing First in principle because of its housing is a human right premise will soon be placing a huge caveat on that in housing is a human right IF it can be afforded but not otherwise – as that is precisely what this CPI+1% for 30 more years means and the idiotic innumerates who are the G15 fail or can’t be arsed to see this inevitability.

Do I need to say how immoral and how asocial this rent increase proposal is? Many will already be commenting on how can they justify charging existing tenants to pay more so landlords can expand with more properties, the exact same argument that has been the basis of the social housing trickle-down economics in the affordable rent regime whose rent levels means the exact opposite.

The G15 30 year CPI+1% rent increase proposal sets in concrete an English system of ever-increasing structural homelessness which those on the left of the political spectrum will rightly bemoan, and also set in concrete the ever increasing greater number of those who cannot get on the property ladder by those on the right and right across the political spectrum. The irony of a Conservative government putting in place a massive structural barrier to increased home ownership as no renter will ever be able to afford a mortgage deposit due to ever higher real term rents is hilarious yet do not be surprised if the deluded ideological dickheads in the Tory party also fail to see these direct consequences of the CPI+1% increases for 30 years demand and accede to it!

In final summary please do not see this JUST as a money grab by the ever more commercially driven RP and PRP landlords who comprise what we still laughingly call social housing. This is the death of any definition of ‘social housing’ as it will mean in the space of just a few short years that council and housing associations landlords WILL be refusing ALL future benefit tenants, refusing all future minimum wage tenants, be refusing all future households that contain a disability… AND redoubling their efforts to evict the existing benefit household tenants who as a direct consequence of SRS landlord greed will become an acute risk of the arrears to eviction to homeless pathway.

This is No DSS and No Job No Home and Any Disability No Home all writ large!

All of the above arguments are also a strong argument to abolish the Overall Benefit Cap policy of course yet as NONE of the political opposition parties have ever made it their publicly stated policy the likelihood of it being abolished are as rare as hen’s teeth or rocking horse shit! As I said way back in 2012 ahead of the OBC policy coming in it will create mass systemic homelessness and the end of any semblance of housing need or social housing or social purpose. The OBC limit has never increased with inflation and the original 2013 onset saw £26k pa as the limit across England which reduced in actual terms to £23k pa in London and £20k pa in the provinces in late 2016 and has received no inflationary uplift since. Just and inflationary uplift would today sees £28,600 as the cap limit when it is £20k across most of the country – or a cut in subsistence level benefit income of circa £165 per week and £717 per calendar month.

If you are on say the average household income or even double that could you afford a £717 drop in net income per month? No! Then how the hell does this government and opposition politicians and national media and even the G15 group of social landlords expects the benefit household or the low pay household afford such a cut?

My initial response to this dangerous madness being announced late last night was in the following tweet which barely cuts it

I stand fully by that tweet and the 200o+ words here fleshes out some of the detail and just some of the adverse yet inevitable consequences of this ill-conceived and dangerously innumerate proposal from the uber capitalists who are the G15 group who really, really, really do not give a shit about the tenant and whom they see only as a cash cow.

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PS The difference between CPI only and CPI+1% until 2054 is 2% average CPI inflation ONLY sees a rent increase of 188% on today’s rents. The 2% CPI plus an additional 1% over and above inflation – the G15 demand – means that rent increase will be 258%.

Or put another way the £380k pa salary of Clarion’s chief executive and G15 member Claire Miller will rise to £712k per year at inflation only but increase to £974,000 per year with rent rises of 1% above inflation if linked in the same way!

Tenants can never trust a social landlord the SRS ‘regulator’ (sic) confirms.

No tenant can ever again trust a ‘social’ landlord as WHEN these millions of abuses occur the social’ landlord will be let off by the so-called regulator of social housing. ALL TRUST HAS GONE and ‘social’ landlords can be just as bad as the worst private landlords as the Clarion (and others) scandal reveals. The ‘social’ landlord such as Clarion will get away with abuse when the private landlord will never go unpunished and that is the upshot of what ‘regulation’ in ‘social’ housing means!

The social landlord to tenant relationship

ITV News did a series of broadcasts on the (shit hole) state of social housing properties focusing mainly on those operated by Clarion Housing Group. I have no idea how many people saw these yet as this was national TV news it must have been a large number who now cannot unsee what their eyes have seen. I drafted a number of pieces at the time and the post here has all links to these programmes and the equally scandalous responses from the social (sic) landlord lobby groups.

Late yesterday it emerged the official regulator of the social rented sector RSH did not even give Clarion, the UK’s largest housing association with 125,000 properties, even a slap on the wrist. The ‘regulator’ condoned the long-standing abuse of tenants by Clarion – and be under no illusion these are de facto cases of abuse. The ‘regulator’ argument was these were sporadic not systemic issues which is perverse as Clarion admitted these abuses had been ongoing for 6 years and it would be another 5 years before they were sorted.

These abuses go far beyond Clarion as the chief executive of the National Housing Federation Kate Henderson also appeared on the broadcasts and later in a separate announcement saw fit to attempt to clarify her remarks. In this she argued that severe damp and black mould – just one of the abuses that emerged – were only limited to 5% of social housing properties, which she gave no source for such a figure. As I pointed out at the time 5% of England’s social rented sectors 4.4 million properties is 220,000 SRS shit holes which accommodate over 500,000 men, women and children.

Subjecting 500,000 men, women and children to airborne injurious to health black mould and damp spores – as just 1 issue of many – is abuse, de facto abuse. Subjecting this one issue of many for 6 years with a further 5 year wait as in the case of Clarion is prolonged abuse over 11 years and some of the properties had a rent of £1300 per month for the privilege of this health and psychological abuse in properties that are clearly unfit for human habitation seeing Clarion receive 11 years of £1300 per month rent for them – a total of £171,600 paid by tenants for the privilege of having their lives shortened and made less healthy by Clarion over this 11 year period.

If this had been a private landlord operating these shit hole properties that private landlord could see a rent repayment order be levied by a First-tier Tribunal but ONLY a private landlord not a social landlord. The principle is exactly the same whether it is a bed in a shed or garage of a private landlord or an unfit for human habitation Clarion shit hole property riddled with damp and black mould, vermin infestation, ceiling collapses and a history of ignoring tenants and a history of not repairing and maintaining these properties on a long-standing basis. The sanction of a rent repayment order is not available to a social tenant when it should be and its absence is blatant discrimination as the law assumes wrongly it is only private landlords but not social landlords who operate abusive rented properties. More practically, it is far easier for any such financial sanction being paid and recoverable from Clarion than from a small scale private landlord.

‘Social’ landlords and the RSH relationship?

The Clarion et al scandal has clearly evidenced the need for something similar to a Rent Repayment Order being levied on social landlords and which should not be limited to 100% of rent paid but also include compensatory damages awards. Let’s face it such a financial sanction is the ONLY way that social tenants will not continue to be abused by social landlords and would quickly stop the operation of these shit hole properties, which I accept may well only be a tiny 5% of them yet 5% is still over half a million abuse victims as the numbers reveal.

The same ITV News broadcasts covered other ‘social’ landlords and shit hole properties in the ‘social’ (ahem!) rented sector are not limited to large landlords but can happen with all SRS landlords irrespective of size. It is not a case of being too big to fail or large SRS landlords get away with it and smaller ones do not. It is a question of no tenant social or private should have to endure shit hole properties and ALL tenants should have legal and financial redress for having to endure them and having their physical and mental health being abused by them.

The system of renting a house in England depends on trust and has to. There is no other way and you can’t eradicate the trust that is embedded in every tenancy agreement which stipulates the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant. When the law is deficient in not financially sanctioning a social landlord it is just as obscene as the practice of evicting the private tenant who demands their right to repair – the revenge eviction as called – and regularly stated by pro-social and anti-private lobby groups such as Shelter and Generation Rent. PRS revenge evictions are obscene and abhorrent and may well be more frequent that social tenant abuses yet both have to be eradicated from the rented housing system and wearing a set of blinkers and denying that social landlords do not practice abuse in their shit hole properties or stating it is only 5% of them is just not on.

The social rented sector trades on the notion and idea that they are beneficent landlords and the PRS landlord is the proverbial money-grabbing couldn’t care less nasty bastard, which SRS lobbies use daily in their public relations narratives. The SRS landlord does not realise it puts its landlords on a pedestal to be shot down, when and not if, strong evidence emerges from the likes of the ITV News broadcasts which categorically show that SRS landlords DO operate shit hole properties. 50 years or more of a good reputation is shot down in flames in the 3 or 4 minutes it takes to see the ITV News broadcasts and the SRS needs to get its own house in order before it carries on castigating the PRS landlord. The SRS landlord lives in the same glass house as all others do.

This is why the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) decision is a farce and self-defeating for the SRS. It only reveals that the SRS is Teflon-coated and a law unto itself and has no inclination whatsoever to rid itself of shit hole properties which it sees as acceptable on the ‘oh it is only 5% basis’ and other excuses for profit over the health and lives of tenants. The ‘regulator’ has proved beyond ALL doubt that it it chronically unfit for purpose and as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Tenants are being abused by current SRS practices and by current legislation and social landlords CANNOT BE TRUSTED. That is not a summation of a polemic but regrettably a statement of irrefutable objective fact. How the hell has it come to this!

No Job No Home is here despite ‘social’ housing semantics and propaganda

Social landlords need to look in the mirror!

Council landlords are correctly termed Registered Providers (RP) by the official Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) and they are obviously public sector landlords. Housing associations are termed Private Registered Providers (PRP) by the same official regulator the RSH as they are private sector landlords not public.

The terms social housing and social landlord thus comprise public (RP) and private sector (PRP) providers and is confusing especially as PRPs often have charitable status … but then again so does Eton and Harrow and the rest of what we call the ‘public schools’ even though they are definitively private schools. We also casually label RP and PRP as the social rented sector (SRS) when one is public sector and one is private sector and this SRS competes with the Private Rented Sector (PRS) to form the two broad ‘types’ of landlord who rent out properties.

Confusing isn’t it?

Unfortunately, these differences are not just semantics but they form the basis of any critical understanding of rented housing in England and indeed homelessness. RPs (councils) can have a legal duty to rehouse as they are a public sector organisation yet PRPs (aka housing associations) cannot hold a legal mandated ‘duty’ as they are NOT part of the public sector. Far too many believe that as PRPs are a ‘social’ landlord and/or they have ‘charitable’ status then they are legally obligated to house or rehouse those who are homeless. They do not.

Sometimes this fallacy goes further with claims that people have a human right to housing which they do not and have never had and most probably people including the most fervent activists want to believe that housing is a human right as it is morally indefensible to argue the opposite when that amoral opposite is the legal and practical reality and fact.

Note that council landlords (RP) can refuse to rehouse a homeless person or household with just cause yet those local councils still have the legal duty to find a property for qualifying homeless households. Also note that local councils still hold the mandatory duty to rehouse a homeless household even when that local council does not have any housing stock. Further note that councils with or without housing stock can see their social services department have a homeless duty and not the housing department.

Well I did warn you this is confusing!

Rehousing a homeless household of an individual, couple or family should be a legal and human right yet it isn’t and the phrase I used above of ‘just cause’ can and does mean that all landlords be they council, HA or PRS can refuse to house or rehouse a homeless household when the social security system we have does not pay enough in housing benefit to cover the cost of rent – which leads to private landlords, housing association landlords and yes, even council landlords operating what we still call No DSS as standard operational practice. All of the so-called ‘welfare reforms’ of the Austerity agenda and its policies such as bedroom tax, overall benefit cap, increased non-dependant deductions, the shared accommodation rate (SAR) age increase to those under 35 years of age and others which reduce housing benefit (HB, LHA and UC housing costs) are definitive no DSS policies across all landlord types.

And you thought social housing was a housing safety net? Sorry to inform but you are very much mistaken. You believe as you are repeatedly told that only PRS landlords operate No DSS? Again, sorry but that is simply and factually incorrect as housing associations (PRP) and council landlords (RP) operate No DSS as standard daily practice when they decide to allocate the 300,000+ new SRS tenancies that become available each year in the SRS.

A ‘social’ landlord?

RP and PRP landlords claim to be social landlords yet when the aforementioned ‘welfare reform’ policies began and which all cut the level of housing benefit they chose to operate No DSS. They claim they were forced to do so and that these were enforced government ‘welfare’ policies which left left with no choice but to refuse to allocate their available properties to those whose housing benefit levels did not cover the rent. While there is superficial validity in this, it means that social landlords stopped being social in any form and accepted (however reluctantly) to prioritise the payment of rent over any social purpose to rehouse those most in housing need. RP and PRP landlords since the ‘welfare reform (sic)’ policies of bedroom tax et al simply operated the overtly commercial cultural position of No DSS to prospective new tenants and for existing tenants adopted pay your rent or else be evicted.

Social housing and social landlords do not exist. The 1948 Welfare State pillar of housing as a safety net that interacts with all other Welfare State pillars is an illusory nostalgic figment and has been ever for a decade since the ideologically driven welfare reform / austerity policies of the Conservative governments.

The social rented sector and their far too many lobbies and sycophants will still tell you that social landlords and social purpose and social ethos still exists yet this is false and nothing more than propagandist marketing and PR blurb. Even the increasing number of retired former social housing workers who opine that HAs were formed out of social purpose and had a strong social ethos in the past (however valid or not) delude only themselves. The issue is not what ‘social landlords’ WERE it is a matter of what they ARE.

IF nostalgia was the benchmark we would still be enthralled by listening to ventriloquists on the wireless … ‘wireless’ is the radio to all of you under the age of 50 who probably do not recognise this archaic term and its archaic entertainment basis when archaically England had what is archaically called social landlords imbued with social purpose.

When we have No DSS being rife across the purported social rented sector which it is then we do not have social housing, we do not have a housing safety net, we also have no recognition or consideration of another archaic term in objective ‘housing need’ and we only have a feudal landlord system based on pay your rent or fuck off!

Reader, I have been stating the above for a decade and the only change has been a hardened more frequent version of No DSS becoming a de facto standard practice by ‘social’ (sic) landlords of the 3.5 million new social housing tenancies allocated in that time and over three-quarters of all current social housing tenants. As we will soon see hundreds of thousands of existing households soon to be hit by the end of furlough, the end of their jobs, the millions with the ending of the £20 per week UC uplift then guess what is going to hit the biggest fan you can imagine?

No Job No Home is soon to replace No DSS right across the country and become the norm for ALL landlord types and we will have a busted social housing and social rented sector system that is NOT a safety net many believe, want and proclaim we still have. We can always rely on nostalgia eh!

There is a steady flow of nostalgists who will start each sentence with when I worked in social housing and want or refuse to believe that nothing has changed and a steady stream of reality deniers who reject the facts that social landlords would ever practice No DSS as they are imbued with the ethereal social purpose when the facts reveal they have done for a decade or more. A further steady stream of those who say it is ONLY the proverbially nasty bastard PRS landlord who operate No DSS to further their own agendas such as Shelter or Generation Rent and the sycophantic and ignorant national media who play up to this false and highly dangerous narrative and while according the SRS with some long, long-lost beneficence of the same ethereal social purpose. Asking any of these ‘types’ to wake up and smell the coffee or to ‘get real’ only serves to harden their acutely closed minds.

If you thought Brexit was project fear you haven’t seen anything that will compare to the housing and homeless shit show of No Job No Home that is coming very soon to a park bench near you!

WTF is the “Housing Crisis!” … and please define “homelessness!”

Can anyone please find me a definition of “the Housing Crisis?”

Can anyone please find me a definition of the word “Homeless?”

I bet you can’t as these terms are never ever defined and instead they simply litter social and other media outlets without definition at all – and I argue here deliberately.

The Housing Crisis?

In very broad generic terms this is taken to mean that the UK has a significant shortfall of what is termed social housing and it is usually followed by, or used as the basis of, assertions to #BuildMoreSocialHousing; and then further premised with estimates of an aggregate number of new social housing the UK needs, invariably between 90,000 and 130,000 per year for the next ‘x’ number of years.

A typical statement and assertion would be something like this tweet from Polly Neate the chief executive of Shelter:-

Tken from Twitter Saturday 7 August 2021

Notice that the term ‘Housing Crisis’ is assumed to be correct but is not defined.

Go back to the Shelter Independent Housing Commission of a few years ago and we find a tome of a report concluding the UK needs 130,000 new social housing properties per year for some 20 years. HOWEVER, even this purported independent cross-party commission does NOT say what these 130,000 pa social housing need comprises: It does not say we need all of these 130k at the only truly affordable social rent level; and even fails to say what size properties are needed and; who these new ‘social housing’ properties are for.

The lack of defining in precise terms what the Housing Crisis is and consists of can be seen as evasive and as vague as possible and deliberate. ALL of the available factual data reveals a chronic lack of the one-bedded property within the social rented sector at the social rent level. The SRS landlords have never developed the one-bedded property in the post-war years when they were seen and still position themselves today as, the welfare state housing safety net.

LA waiting lists reveal that 529,000 households which is 46% of all waiting list households are there for the one bedded property and which is the far greatest social housing-need, yet in none of the numerous predictions which all state we have a housing crisis and need x number of properties per year is a breakdown of what size of property should be built, let alone where and many other aspects.

The Housing Crisis premise of ‘build more social housing’ is scandalously vague and becomes just a wish list for social landlords to rent out more properties and get more rental income and NOT a reflection of or solution to housing need.

Housing Need IS the rationale and social purpose of the social landlord and IS the only logical and indeed moral reason why any government would stump up the capital subsidy for social housing to be built, yet the numerous repeated calls for this pump-primed capital subsidy sees those screaming for government funding can’t even be arsed to tell government who these new social housing properties are even for and which problem building them will solve for government. A policy of SRS lobbyists demanding government just give us the bloody money and don’t dare ask who these social housing properties are for or what problem they seek to solve! It is chronic delusion and ineptitude even with the generic financial argument that the social housing model and especially as the social rent level irrefutably saves government money in the long-term.

Defining Homeless … and housing-need?

In a normal year (pre-pandemic and post pandemic) England has 40,000 homeless hostels rooms that sees 100,000 homeless persons live there. Those 100,000 homeless hostel dwellers all need and qualify for the elusive one-bedded property in order to ESCAPE the state of homelessness.

The Everyone In pandemic policy saw 33,000 rough sleepers be given temporary hotel and B&B provision in its first 8 months which prorates to 50,000 rough sleepers in England per year and one of many methods arriving at the same 50k cautious estimate. England’s rough sleepers – who are usually the only visible homeless cohort as they are roofless and some confuse them as the ONLY ‘homeless’ persons – thus need 50,000 of the same elusive one-bedded properties each year.

England’s social rented sector landlords, councils and housing associations, provided just 11,106 one bedded properties in the latest official data for 2019/20 to ALL ‘single homeless’ cohorts (13k in 2015, 19k in 2006) and reveals that social housing in England has a chronic structural shortage of the one-bedded property that is also confirmed by the 46% and 529,000 on waiting lists for the elusive one-bedded SRS property.

The English Housing Survey, an authoritative yearly official dataset for the last 25 years, stated that England has a staggering 541,000 households which had a sofa surfer household within, broken down onto 386,000 single homeless sofa surfing households of an individual or childless couple and 155,000 family homeless sofa surfing households with children. Given a ‘sofa surfing’ household has the legal status of lodger and can be evicted with a 7 day notice and has no recourse to the courts, all sofa surfers are legally and perpetually homeless. The same EHS states circa 8% of these sofa surfing households are known to their local councils and over 90% are not. That also means circa 92% of the 386,000 single homeless sofa surfing households are not on council waiting lists and are therefore additional to the 529,000 who are there waiting for the elusive one-bedded social housing property.

A crude overview of 1 bed SRsS housing-need

In short there are at least 800,000 yearly English single homeless households in rough sleepers, hostel dwellers, sofa surfer and waiting list applicants who have a housing-need for the one bedded SRS property and thus the vague and aggregated number only demand to build more bloody social housing is extremely remiss in not stating what proportion of the new social housing to be developed and built is the one-bedded SRS property. Note too the above list is far from an exhaustive one for single homeless cohorts, e.g. the single person released from prison, the 35% – 40% of women in refuges who are childless and thus single in homeless and housing terms and more single homeless cohorts or pigeonholed groups living in temporary accommodations.

The above simple argument posits that SRS landlords are loathe to define the Housing Crisis and what the real objective housing need for social housing actually is because by definition it criticises them for NOT building the one bed property which is part of a larger argument that social landlords build for their bottom-line financial need and not for objective housing need of those least able to afford to buy housing. What this also does is show that the extremely vague yet never defined ‘social purpose’ or ‘social ethos’ principles upon which SRS landlords claim to trade is also regrettably a myth and deceit. The cold objective facts reveal the entire rationale for ‘social housing’ is a deceit and known deceit and why the SRS lobbies strenuously deny any criticism in case they are found out … and also why the steadfastly refuse to define terms such as “Housing Crisis.”

To elaborate on the SRS chronic aversion to any criticism the recent ITV News broadcasts over the appalling and long-standing state of some social housing properties saw the chief executive of the National Housing Federation say that we are sorry that tenants FELT not listened to in a rebuttal response that was of the highest order of offence and shameful deflection narrative.

Decades, literally, of SRS landlords and lobbies peddling the myth that it was only the proverbially nasty PRS landlord who operated unfit for human habitation properties (aka shitholes) and that SRS landlords were proverbially benevolent who would never operate such shitholes was exposed in a few minutes of seminal TV News broadcasts. The ‘social purpose’ rationale, a phrase also never defined and kept deliberately vague by the SRS and which underpins the need for social housing and a welfare state housing safety net was blown apart.

Definition is thus scrutiny and in the case of asking Government for multi billions per year in funding is the most basic due diligence. This is precisely what the Social Rented Sector and its advocates such as Shelter avoid like the plague. It is far easier to issue demands and assert just build social housing as a solution to an undefined Housing Crisis than unpick the reality. When you fail to scope the problem and the objective housing need then any proposed ‘solution’ such as just bloody build more social housing is merely pissing in the wind and known obfuscation, that is, deceit.

I would argue that England needs 250,000 new social housing properties per year all of them at the social rent level with zero at the contrived and 47% higher on average ‘affordable rent’ level – and objective housing-need logic would see 150,000 of these being the elusive one bedded self-contained SRS property. What England needs just as much is genuinely social landlords and not the money-grabbing overtly commercially-focused landlords we have today who purport to be social – and that charge goes as much to council landlords (Registered Providers) as to housing associations (Private Registered Providers.)

IF we are ever to reduce homelessness and reduce housing-need then we have to start by defining and quantifying the scope and the need of what we never define and which we glibly refer to as the Housing Crisis! And while we still see homelessness which we also never define as primarily a housing-led solution …!

Ending rough sleeping in England … Kill off 89 in every 100 of them so Housing First ‘works’

The only way the scaled-up Housing First model can end rough sleeping in England is if 89% of rough sleepers die off … not that this drastic solution is anathema to this government mind ….

The scaling up of the Housing First model and theory is the epitome of the old saw of if it isn’t working expand it and hope nobody will notice! Let’s look at the Housing First model that cannot work in theory let alone in practice and what it means on a day to day basis:

Imagine you are a landlord and a third party asks you to house a rough sleeper directly from the street without you assessing any of the risks the rough sleeper poses and also note well you cannot ever evict this person whatever they do. The landlord must offer the HF client this unconditional tenancy. You ask if you receive additional rental for this arrangement and the answer is NO.

The above is the Housing First model and theory so would you rent out your property?

The Housing First model and theory is the policy that the current government and the English homeless ‘experts’ say will eliminate rough sleeping yet it is a sham and a bloody expensive one that does not work in theory let alone in practice. As the above non-contentious definition reveals it is entirely dependent upon:-

(a) permanent 1 bedded self-contained housing being available;

(b) permanent 1 bedded self-contained housing being available immediately;

(c) landlords being willing to allocate permanent 1-bedded self-contained to rough sleepers on an unconditional basis;

(d) landlords being willing to never evict the rough sleeper even if there is overwhelming and repeated cause and a step they would take for any other tenant; and

(e) property being affordable if the rough sleeper tenant is on housing benefit.

Permanent 1 bedded self-contained property is the necessary ESCAPE property for the Housing First model and they neither exist in sufficient number or are landlords willing to rent them unconditionally to the rough sleeper, or indeed, to any other single homeless group. When the claims for the Housing First model by the many and ever expanding zealous homeless ‘experts’ say they will END rough sleeping or END homelessness they are lying to you and knowingly lying.

In no other industry does the provider taking on of huge additional risks happen when there is no additional reward happen, yet the zealous homeless ‘experts’ assert that landlords as providers will take on much higher risk rough sleeper tenants for no extra in higher rent reward.

In England the private sector landlord does NOT operate permanent housing and in the vast majority of cases the maximum housing benefit does not cover the total rent even for the lowest perceived risk tenant. Further, the ending of a PRS tenancy is the 2nd highest immediate cause of homelessness after relationship breakdown that the same homeless ‘experts’ believe is solvable by ending section 21 no fault evictions when all that will do is see PRS landlords flee the higher tenant risks market altogether such as single homeless groups and especially the rough sleeper who is perceived probably rightly as the highest risk tenant of all.

This then leaves England’s social rented sector landlords as the source of property for the Housing First model and the three large-scale pilots see just 3% of housing provided by the PRS and 97% by the SRS.

Earlier HF pilots which failed such as in Sheffield targeted PRS landlords firstly and then when no supply came through targeted SRS landlords … which also saw no supply and the well-funded Sheffield model only sought 10 Housing First properties in a city with 280,000 properties in total yet could not get them!

Last week when the second purported evaluation report was published commentary in the SRS was said to be SRS landlords are on board with the HF theory yet wary of the risks.

Forgive the indelicate comment but this narrative as found in Inside Housing is blowing smoke up your arse and no social landlord will ever accept the unconditional allocation and unconditional operation of their tenancies with all the risks this entails. No landlord of any description will as it is simply too many risks too far and a deluded ask and deluded assumption of the Housing First theory and its zealous advocates.

Don’t dare scrutinise the Housing First model!

The Housing First zealots and homeless ‘experts’ detest even the simplest level of scrutiny of the HF model and especially in the context of England’s rented housing markets and context. Those who do the simplest level of scrutiny as found above are called scaremongers and even the straw man for what anyone can see is a case of stating the bloody obvious. You don’t need my 30 years of working in the field to be able to see the bloody obvious central flaws in the Housing First model means it can never end rough sleeping or end any other form of single homelessness.

What that experience does assert and deduce is that Government will in the near future stop ALL rough sleeper funding as they will argue they threw oodles of funding at what the homeless ‘experts’ said WOULD work yet which failed spectacularly therefore ending rough sleeping is an impossibility and must be the fault of the rough sleeper! That is the real danger in the zealous cult-like advocacy of the homeless ‘experts’ who refuse to believe that the Housing First model is unworkable in England.

When and not if that happens, the likes of Crisis will move on to another single homeless cohort and forget about the rough sleeper; the politician of all parties such as the APPG Homeless members will deny they ever advocated Housing First in the first place; and the plethora of academic ‘experts’ and purported think tanks who make good coin promoting the Housing First fantastical theory will simply move on to the latest romanticised, moralistic and superficial theory that cannot possibly work to end rough sleeping or end other homelessness.

At the risk of pigeonholing myself as the proverbial old fart, I have seen so many homeless initiatives and funding schemes come and go and in rough sleeping seen the failed “Coming In From the Cold” the failed “No Second Night Out” and most recently the failed “Everyone In” initiatives heralded as successful schemes when they have all failed. England today has more rough sleepers than it has ever had before and testament to those failures with having not less than 50,000 roofless rough sleepers each year and which will further increase as a direct impact of the pandemic and will also increase further IF the deluded Housing First ‘experts’ get their way and the model is scaled-up to 16,450 clients as its finite capacity.

Expand the failure and hope nobody will notice – The scaling-up of Housing First

The right-wing think tank CSJ founded by Iain Duncan Smith collaborated with Crisis to produce the Close to Home report earlier this year which asserted that the Housing First model should be scaled-up to 16,450 persons each receiving visiting support for an average 3 year period. Sarah Rowe the senior policy officer at Crisis was seconded and led this project for CSJ.

The obvious problem is this Close to Home scaling-up proposal gives a finite capacity of Housing First over that and each subsequent 3 year period of 16,450 due to the 3 years of visiting support element. It means to be clear that only 16,450 rough sleepers at any point in time are supported by the scaled-up Housing First model.

However, England has not less than 50,000 rough sleepers per year and it therefore has 150,000 over this same 3 year period and only 1 in every 9 rough sleepers, the 16,450 of 150,000 will receive the Housing First model of permanent housing and visiting support. 8 in every 9 of England’s rough sleepers and 133,550 of this 150,000 number will NOT have any support whatsoever. Note here that ‘support’ in England is entirely 100% discretionary and is not a right or has it is a right to be funded unlike visiting care services.

In short, the scaling-up of the Housing First model, which the Housing First zealous ‘experts’ claim will show the Housing First model to work, cannot possibly work unless like Crisis and the right wing CSJ think tank and the rest of the Housing First zealots you are prepared to believe that 89% of rough sleepers require zero support to transition from the street into a tenancy of their own!

I wonder if the founder of the CSJ think tank Iain Duncan Smith can persuade the Tory government that the rough sleeper is far less a politically sensitive target than the thousands of over 80s with Covid-19 his pal Boris Johnson was uncaring about?

Basic simple arithmetic reveals that the Housing First zealots such as Crisis, the CSJ Think Tank, the Homeless APPG and scores of other homeless ‘experts’ are not worthy of the claim that they do not know their arse from their elbow as their zealous promotion of the Messianic Housing First model that ignores the most basic of known fact simply cannot work; and far more importantly, shafts the needs of the most housing vulnerable in the poor bastard rough sleeper.

Even when I argue against myself and limit the yearly number of England’s rough sleepers to the 33,000 plus who were temporarily housed in the first 8 months of the “Everyone In” pandemic public health policy, it still means 100,000 rough sleepers over a three year period and the Housing First model will only be able to address 16,450 when scaled-up or 16% of England’s rough sleepers and more than 5 in every 6 will have to fend for themselves and be able to transition from street dweller to be able to sustain a tenancy without any support!

Anyone still think the Housing First model will end rough sleeping in England?

MHCLG’s Housing First pilot – A (non) evaluation charade of 3 (non) Housing First pilots

This week saw published a 68-page evaluation (sic) report into the three large-scale Housing First model pilots in England. Sixty-eight pages of pathetic scrutiny and little if any robust analysis of the three pilots making this official report largely purposeless.

Evaluation? (My Arse!)

The report has the title of second evaluation report yet nothing in this report that was completed in March 2021 yet only released 4 months later at the end of July 2021 is evaluated. The cost of delivering Housing First is not attempted for example despite the extrapolation of its support element being £184 per hour as I detailed here that renders these pilots as impossibly not sustainable. Neither for that matter is there an evaluation of whether the Housing First pilots are actually Housing First model services, which they are not!

In short this is a sham of a report about a set of three sham pilot programmes that will at some not so distant point give Government all the cause they need to conclude that reducing never mind eliminating rough sleeping is impossible. Government have thrown oodles of funding at the panacea that the homeless ‘experts’ said would work when it cannot possibly do so and soon to be followed by withdrawing all funding for the intractable and ‘unsolvable’ rough sleeping services and no doubt blaming the poor bastards who are roofless.

The Housing First model, as its name implies, is entirely 100% dependent upon the availability of the housing element, the elusive one-bedded property, being available and on an immediate basis yet all this official MHCLG commissioned report said on the matter was that it took between 1 week and 12 months for the critical one-bedded HF property to be found. No further evaluation is attempted in this sham MHCLG report of THE most critical aspect of the Housing First model!!

The Housing First model and theory has a non-contentious definition below and taken from an April 2020 report into 20 years of the Housing First model in the USA where the model originated which says that (a) permanent housing is (b) provided immediately and (c) on an unconditional basis, irrespective of the sobriety or other complex support need that the homeless applicant has or had.

It can take a year to find a suitable permanent one-bedded HF property which makes the ‘Housing FIRST’ nomenclature and label a charade and impossibility in England.

Now go back to the one week to 12 months off-hand language in the excerpt above and look at this language emphasised in another aspect that some of the purportedly Housing First clients had been accommodated in temporary accommodation first!

This means the three purported Housing First pilots are a staged resettlement model akin to a hostel first stage and then a second ‘move-on’ stage. As such they are not Housing First models at all and by any definition of the Housing First model.

The English large-scale “Housing First” pilot programmes in the Metro Mayor areas of Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and West Midlands Combined Authority are de facto NOT the “Housing First” model at all but resettlement models that do not (a) provide the housing firstly, and (b) do not feature unconditionality and (c) are not provided immediately and (d) only achieve permanent housing on a staged basis.

Irrespective of the well-known acute shortage of one-bedded permanent properties in England owned and managed by the social rented sector – the only provider of permanent housing as the private rented sector does not – the pilots are a lie and deceit when they claim to be the Housing First model. Its associated zealous claims that the Housing First model is a panacea to end rooflessness (rough sleeping) and the scant data that this official MHCLG commissioned report does include, has data revealing just 72 of 199 of the HF pilot clients housed were sleeping rough immediately prior to acceptance onto these three pilot schemes.

Figure 8 of this report in which the authors CHOSE to only delineate 199 HF service users and not the 534 total that were housed is as suspicious as it gets. There is no narrative as to why these details were released based on just 199 HF clients and not on the 534 total HF clients housed.

It reveals that 36% or just 72 of these carefully selected 199 HF clients were roofless – the correct term for rough sleeping – in the one month period prior to acceptance on these three faux Housing First pilots. All of the other categories of person had a roof in the month before their (conditional) acceptance onto these faux Housing First pilot schemes whether emergency provision, hostels, sofa surfing, prison etc.

The Housing First zealous advocates and promoters have done the Westminster Government up like a kipper. We have this wonderful model they say, which is a ‘success’ elsewhere – a point never substantiated with any data or evidence by the way, that will eliminate rough sleeping yet by choosing almost 2 in every 3 Housing First clients as NOT being rough sleepers to reduce the rough sleeper count they have lied to Government. That assumes the 36% of all 534 acceptees onto these faux Housing First schemes or 192 of them were similarly roofless in the month before. However, this evaluation report does not give the full number of roofless persons accepted onto these schemes and instead CHOOSES to mention it for just 199 acceptees!

It could be way more than 36% or it could be way lower and again shows how purposeless and deficient this claimed evaluation report is!

We have this wonderful model they assert as mantra that is incredibly cost-effective in reducing rough sleeping these zealous advocates asserted, yet the cost of providing one hour of visiting support to those that have been housed works out at £184 for each hour of support per person … and just another issue the MHCLG commissioned light touch report failed to look at!

The English Housing First advocates however go way beyond zealous to be revealed in this report as a doctrinaire cult by recruiting only those support workers who have ‘bought into’ the brainwashing English version of the Housing First (sic) cult.

The priority in recruiting staff for the pilots is how easily they could be indoctrinated with the illusory theory of the Housing First model, which these pilots clearly do NOT operate, rather than for their experience and expertise in supporting vulnerable homeless persons with their many support needs.

Is it any wonder that these pilots who were supposed to accommodate and support 1000 former rough sleepers have failed and merely housed barely half at 534 of which we must assume some two-thirds were NOT sleeping rough immediately prior to moving onto these faux Housing First pilots?

The extremely light touch report reveals many shocking things yet fails to comment upon them.

The £28 million of funding for the 3 pilots was in May 2018 yet the GM pilot housed its first client in March 2019 and 10 months later, the LCR pilot housed its first client in July 2019 and 14 months later, and the WMCA pilot its first in January 2019 some 8 months later, and from a pre-existing HF low scale service. These facts raise the logical and bloody obvious questions of: –

  1. What was the funding spent on in the 8 – 14 months it took to house the first client?
  2. Why the hell did it take this long to house the first clients?

These highly pertinent and obvious questions and points of enquiry are not discussed or revealed in this purposeless light touch report.

In order to keep this to a readable length I will bullet point some other aspects.

  • Why do the authors of this report mistakenly call housing associations ‘registered provider?’ – The term means public sector council landlords only and housing associations are correctly termed Private Registered Providers to reflect their non-public sector status.
  • How can the reports narrative be one of surprise that inter-agency cooperation with single homeless persons is fraught as it has been for at least the last 30 years?
  • Similar ‘surprise’ is found in the narrative that (admittedly underfunded and overworked) mental health services refuse to assess homeless persons and frequently cite drug-induced psychoses and not underlying mental health problems all without undertaking an assessment?
  • Further surprise is found in the narrative that other statutory providers, eg Probation, withhold full risk assessments on potential HF clients in order to practise social dumping?

All the above bullet points suggest and strongly that the MHCLG appointed consultants who undertook this evaluation knew nothing of the standard and unacceptable practises that have been the norm in the rehousing of all single homeless persons for many decades – which the surprised narrative tone reveals.

Further, this reveals that the HF pilot lead organisations were incredibly ill-prepared and gave scant consideration if any at all to these obvious and well-known operational constraints that have been the norm for decades in the rehousing of single homeless persons.

That latter point appears to be have been belatedly addressed by partnering with expert homeless organisations to make up for the mistake of the primacy of indoctrinating inexperienced staff in naive recruitment practices over experienced homeless support workers who have known of these constraints and outrageous practices of denying mental health assessments and of social dumping practices for decades when the HF lead organisations like the author expresses surprise at these norms.

Finally, as I have implied in this shortish piece, rebuttal and informed response to this 68-page official (non) evaluation report could easily by 168 pages long such is the purposeless of this ‘report’ with its chronic lack of any never mind robust enquiry.

Single homeless persons deserve far, far better than this non-entity of scrutiny report is into these errantly labelled ‘Housing First’ pilots.

£184 p/h Housing First pilots visiting support cost

What is the cost of one hour of visiting support under the Housing First model?

£184 – Yes that does say ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FOUR POUNDS!

Surely that must be absurdly false? No it isn’t as this brief post explains.

The three large-scale Housing First pilots have provided 534 complex need homeless persons with 162,750 nights of visiting support which gives this average support only cost of £184 per person per night and which excludes rent cost.

The official evaluation report released by MHCLG on 28 July does not give any breakdown of cost or any accurate breakdown on the length of tenancy sustainment for the HF pilots. However, we know the 3 pilots were granted £28 million of funding and the LCR pilot had an additional £1.7m of Homeless Trailblazer Funding so I am working on a total funding for the 3 pilots of not less than £30 million which is cautiously low as it is likely the GM and WM pilots also had additional funding streams and all three pilot areas could additionally have in-house combined authority funding as well.

In short £30 million is a very cautious total funding figure for the support only of HF pilot clients.

The evaluation report is vague on tenancy duration (and deliberately so?) and merely places the length of HF tenancy duration into very broad bands which I reproduce below: –

Using the mid point of each band so “up to 1 month” is 15 days and “1 – 6 months” being 91 days and so on we find that a total duration of the 534 HF clients is 162,750 days and nights for an average of 304 nights each HF client housed and 43 weeks and 3 days. By dividing the cautious £30 million support only HF cost (rent is additional) by 162,750 nights we see the support only cost for each Housing First pilot client housed equates to £184.33 per day per person.

  • 42 housed HF clients at < 1 month = 42×15 = 630 days
  • 169 at 1 – 6 months is 169×91 days = 15,379 days
  • 148 at 6-12 months is 148×272 days = 40,256 days
  • 149 at 1 – 2 years is 149×548 days = 81,652 days
  • 26 at 2 – 3 years is 26×913 days = 23,738 days
  • 1 at 3 years is 1×1095 days = 1,095 days

The total housed days / nights of the 534 HF clients housed using these mid-point figures is 162,750 which gives an average duration of tenure at 305 days and by dividing the £30 million funding for support by 162,750 total support days gives a daily cost of housed support to be £184.33 per person receiving housed support.

Quad erat demonstrandum

____________________

Further comment

There is nothing wrong with the arithmetic above and as I always say 2 plus 2 always equals 4, which it does.

The £30 million figure is a cautious one for the total funding of these pilots however the support cost is only for the 59% of HF clients who were actually housed and it excludes the costs of providing pre-tenancy support to the total 902 persons ‘recruited’ by the HF pilot teams. Conversely, the cost figures do NOT include rent costs and so the overall housign and support costs per person and per day will be higher than the £184 pppd support only cost.

However, the HF model is, in its theory, the immediate housing of persons with no conditionality or assessment of client support needs prior to housing. The clients are housed first and immediately and then support is delivered yet this is NOT the case with the 3 pilots who have filtered out hundreds of prospective clients are not being suitable or not meeting the correct ‘conditionality’ of this supposedly unconditional Housing First model.

An April 2020 research report into 20 years of the Housing First model in the USA gave a very concise and apt description on the HF model and its tenets:

The Manhattan Institute (US think tank) report concludes that Housing First does not work and is not cost-effective and twenty years of the HF model for example has seen the homeless numbers in New York increase from 33,000 to over 78,000.

All of these same conclusions are borne out in the MHCLG incredibly light-touch evaluation for the comparatively embryonic HF pilot models in England with 3 years of history vis-a-vis 20 years history in the USA. The 534 who have been housed will contain the same small number of “high utilizer” homeless people which in the UK we label very high complex need and which many have been weeded out of the 3 English pilots and not permitted access to the HF schemes as their needs are too high.

I will summarise by saying the 3 large-scale purportedly HF pilot schemes are NOT the HF model or theory and that the 3 English pilots are botched together hotchpotch of service models which include outreach (pre housing) and also versions of the staged resettlement models such as hostels. The 3 pilots despite the very light touch MHCLG commissioned evaluation report are also doctrinaire by design and so much so that support staff are chosen only if they ‘buy in’ to the incredibly superficial HF theory and for which the report narrates that external scrutiny ofthese pilots HF ‘fidelity’ is given greater priority than supporting individual tenant support needs. This is one example of the many overbearing top-down doctrinaire HF pilot structures which jump off the page despite the MHCLG report being overtly vague and overtly light touch and have an absence of primary data upon which to comment fully and assess these HF pilots in the detail they and single homeless persons deserve.

The HF pilots in England do however give enough urgent cause for concern over costs and operational practise and the support costs especially give cause for an immediate thorough investigation and similar to ones that all local authorities had with the Supporting People Audit Commission investigations of 2003 – 2006.

The faux HF models of the pilots require robust external investigation and immediately so as the pilots are seeking continuation funding and the zealous HF advocates are demanding HF is scaled up from circa 2000 persons today to 16,450 persons. To do either without a robust investigation would in common paralance be spaffing taxpayers money up the wall and, far more importantly, setting up MORE homeless persons up to fail in a system that due to its costs can never be financially sustainable.

MHCLG report finds Housing First costs DOUBLE what Crisis claim. Oh dear!!

The minimum Housing First yearly cost per person is DOUBLE the figure that Crisis the homeless organisation and prime supporter of Housing First say it is.

The official MHCLG report puts the Housing First per person per year housed cost at a minimum of £18,726 (excluding rent cost) and the Crisis ‘report’ of last week asserts this excluding rent cost figure to be just £9,683.

Today I have been reading the Second Process Evaluation of the Housing First Pilots, the official report published yesterday by MHCLG. This concerns the three large-scale Housing First pilots in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and the West Midlands (GM, LCR, WM) and its 68 pages make very sobering reading indeed. The same old practical and cultural barriers and problems exist as I first encountered in single homelessness almost 30 years ago and ever since and the same very vulnerable individual needs are manifest in the 534 complex need clients that have been rehoused across the 3 pilot areas in the last three years.

The MHCLG official report from which the above 534 housed figure comes is an extremely depressing read though a necessary one and most depressing of all is the Housing First models (note plural) engaged variously across the 3 areas will not or ever work due to the elephant in the room which is always the bottom-line cost … which is DOUBLE the cost of that asserted last week by Crisis in a ‘report’ alluding to be for the APPG Homeless cross party group for which Crisis provides the secretariat.

The MHCLG report reveals 534 HF clients have been housed in the 3 pilots and have come at an agrregate cost of not less than £10 million per year and note that figure excludes the housing rent cost. It equates at the lowest cost to £360 per person per week excluding rent and that excludes the cost of statutory services delivered to the Housing First clients.

It is an unsustainable cost to the public purse and no government of any persuasion will pay that cost, just as they have been unwilling to pay that cost for the last 30 years. Even if all the inevitably predicted practical problems such as the chronic undersupply of the one-bedded properties upon which the Housing First model(s) is 100% dependent magically arose up out of the ether to provide the housing firstly, then the ongoing cost of providing the support services is never going to materialise.

Number and cost crunching

The 3 pilots were granted £28 million from the government over a three year period and additional millions have been claimed in Homeless Trailblazer Funding (HTF) that means the three years to date have seen well over £30 million directly spent on these pilots or not less than £10 million per year on average.

The LCR service alone had £1.7m of HTF (over 2 years) and that funding level of not less than £30m over 3 years (which excludes any additional in-house funding) has seen 534 persons with what we cursorily label ‘complex needs’ housed in their own property for varying lengths of time ranging from less than one month to 1 person for over three years.

IF all 534 had been housed for three years which they haven’t at a cost of £30 million the support cost per person would be £18,726 per year and £360 per week PLUS rent cost. Simple arithmetic sees dividing £10 million by 534 recipients to be this £18,726 per person per year.

This £360 per person per week plus rent costs is thus the lowest possible cost of these pilots and is not sustainable. It we say £90 per week rent cost then this is £450 per person per week as a very low cost per person PLUS the additional cost of statutory services as the Housing First model brings additional clients to statutory services that were previously not supported or paid for by mental health and other services.

I make no apologies for focusing on the costs as the bottom line is the only thing that matters to government funders. It is always the primary concern and the secondary concern is whose budget does it come from.

We see the MHCLG external evaluation finds that the Crisis report published last week that asserted the Housing First cost per person at £9,683 per year (excluding rent cost) was barely half of the true cost which at the lowest is the £18,726 per person per year (also excluding rent cost) and the real minimum cost of the Housing First model is DOUBLE the cost that Crisis assert it to be!

Housing First INCREASES rough sleeping numbers.

The Housing First model even when ‘scaled-up’ to 16,450 clients as its advocates led by Crisis demand will only ever eliminate 11% of rough sleeping in England. That means 89 out of every 100 rough sleepers in England will not get any support to end their roofless state under the Housing First model.

This is just one of the many known and provable problems with the incredibly moralistic and superficial Housing First model and theory and why it can only ever be a tiny bit-part of eliminating rough sleeping which is a subset of single homelessness accounting for a single figure percentage of single homeless persons in England.

1. Housing First can only be 11% of the solution

Currently around 2000 persons are supported by the Housing First model as a ‘report’ from Crisis revealed last week here. The same ‘report’ reasserted the claimed need for 16,450 Housing First caseload first revealed in a Centre for Social Justice think tank report “Close to Home” authored by Sarah Rowe of Crisis revealed here. This 16,450 is a finite capacity and the aim is Housing First support to delivered to each former rough sleeper for an average three-year period. This means the 16,450 capacity is finite and a maximum constant for three years.

However, in any three-year period England and the English systems creates 150,000 rough sleepers and 50,000 rough sleepers each and every year. The 16,450 finite and maximum HF caseload is thus 11% of the rough sleeper total number.

The 16450 finite capacity of Housing First also meand Crisis and the hard right-wing CSJ think tank believe 89% of rough sleepers need no support whatsoever in order to transition from the street and sustain a tenancy on their own!!

The Crisis APPG Homeless sham report

2. Does England have 50,000 rough sleepers each and every year?

Yes. Every method used to calculate the yearly number of rough sleepers in England arrives at a consistent minimum of 50,000 each year. For example the CHAIN data which is the only year round and yearly count of rough sleepers revealed London has over 11,000 rough sleepers in a year. The one-off rough sleeper count that is conducted on one night per year, noting that in 68% of local authorities no count was undertaken and replaced with a desktop estimate, has consistently revealed London has between 21% and 22% of all rough sleepers in England. A simple extrapolation sees 11,000+ CHAIN data number for London equating to over 50,000 for an All England figure. There are many other simple ways to arrive at this minimum 50,000 pa figure which I detailed here.

3 Housing First is a “success” and/or Housing First “works”

These claims are regularly stated by HF advocates so much so they become a mantra. However, they are semantics writ large as Housing First model CAN be a success and it CAN work … yet only for 11% of the roofless rough sleeper population so Housing First is NOT a solution at all to the problem of rough sleeping. The HF advocates propaganda and which includes academia is as subtle as a sledgehammer.

4) Scaling-up Housing First will lead to an increase in rough sleeper numbers

The scaled-up Housing First model will only serve to INCREASE rough sleeper numbers in England for some obvious reasons around cherry picking and the impact scaling up has on reducing the availability of the elusive one-bedded property to other homeless cohorts.

In Greater Manchester we have seen the Social Impact Bond (SIB) initiative. This sees social enterprises invest in HF services tied to an investment return paid the longer the Housing First client remains in the permanent tenancy. That system inevitably leads to cherry picking on the allocation of HF properties in order to maximise the return from the SIB and HF clients are chosen essentially by reason of the lower and most manageable support need seeing those with the highest and most complex needs refused the HF property as they have the greatest chance of failing.

The cherry picking scam called the SIB

In the Scottish large scale HF pilot we also see in Edinburgh that 77% of those chosen to go onto the Housing First scheme had no history of being a rough sleeper in the first place. This is another obvious example of cherry picking and also debunks the Housing First theory of rough sleepers being granted a tenancy on an unconditional basis.

The Housing First model competes with many other single homeless groups for the elusive one bedded property which provides the ESCAPE from homelessness and/or rooflessness. It is a zero sum game so scaling up Housing First means reducing the one-bedded ESCAPE property for other single homeless groups such as hostel dwellers and single childless women in domestic abuse refuges.

For example, England’s 40,000 homeless hostel rooms sees a resident stay at a best estimate for 21 weeks on average meaning hostels see 2.48 persons per hostel room per year. 40,000 hostel rooms gives a throughput of 99,300 single homeless persons per year in hostels. Yet, when the competing Housing First model scales up from 2000 to 16,450 it means 14,450 fewer one-bedded ESCAPE properties are available to the hostel (and refuge) dweller thus longer times are spent at hostel and refuge. Say this increases from 21 weeks to 26 weeks and we see just 2 hostel dwellers per room per year and 80,000 residing in hostels pa down from almost 100,000 pa before.

This further means that hostels rooms will be denied to many more seeking to enter them and thus the rough sleeper number increases. Worse, we will see refuges have to refuse more women because they are full for longer and their throughput is reduced meaning more women, both single and with children, will be denied entry to refuge because refuges are unable to move on their existing residents as the Housing First model has taken so many more of the one-bedded ESCAPE properties. NB: Circa 35% of women who flee to refuge are childless thus single homeless who require the same one-bedded ESCAPE property in order to free up refuge rooms.

4. Housing First is 100% dependent on the one-bedded property being available.

The Housing First model has two central aspects of; “… (1) the most effective solution to homelessness is permanent housing; and (2) all housing for the homeless should be provided immediately, without any preconditions, such as sobriety requirements.” In short that the bricks and mortar housing is provided firstly and unconditionally. Only when the housing element is provided can the visiting support element of Housing First be delivered to former rough sleepers.

This definition which is the most accurate I have seen in more than 20 years studying the Housing First model comes from a research report in April 20202 into two decades of Housing First operation in the United States from the Manhattan Institute entitled “Housing First and Homelessness: The Reality and the Rhetoric.

The Manhattan Institute April 2020 report

The model has been in operation in the US for two decades and more yet in England it has rarely seen any more than 5 years of operation. HF in the USA like in England is party apolitical having the support of Democrat and Republican alike just as in England HF has broad cross party apolitical support from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Homelessness (APPG Homeless) for which Crisis the leading advocate of HF in England provide the secretariat.

Put very simply the Housing First model as its name suggests means the model cannot work if that housing is not available. The housing that is needed for Housing First is the elusive permanent one-bedded property which in England in 2019/20 sees official data record SRS landlords provided just 11,106 one-bedded properties to ALL single homeless groups. This used to be 13,000 per year and before that 19,000 per year as the Moving In report from Crisis stated in 2017.

These 11,000 or so (2019/20 CORE data) single homeless properties is the SRS and thus permanent yearly supply figure for 50,000 rough sleepers, some 100,000 homeless hostel dwellers, many thousands of single women in domestic violence and abuse refuges, 386,000 further single homeless households who reside as lodgers (sofa surfers) in someone else’s property. The social rented sector (SRS) also has demand for its one-bedded available properties from the 529,000 single households (individual or childless couple) that official figures reveal are on waiting lists for the same elusive one-bedded property.

In short, the supply and demand for permanent one-bedded properties in the social rented sector is so acutely imbalanced and under supplied it is a structural issue of fact of England’s rented housing. The private rented sector or PRS does not ordinarily provide permanent housing and most definitely does not provide permanent housing on an unconditional basis. The Housing First model however assumes that there is availability of the suitable properties and it further assumes they will be allocated unconditionally and will be operated in an unconditional way with evictions however well merited not permissible.

5. Housing First advocates demand Government stumps up funding but will not scrutinise!

The aforementioned Crisis ‘report’ into the three large-scale pilots of the Housing First model insists that Housing First is a ‘success’ yet does not provide substantiation or data to that effect; rather it states that HF is a ‘success’ on the repeat a lie often enough and people will believe it to be true basis. It further demands Government give continuation funding for these pilots and also demands additional Government funding to scale-up the Housing First model from its circa 2000 capacity currently to a 16,450 Housing First capacity figure previously mentioned without any real scrutiny of whether the pilots were successful or not. I have placed inverted commas correctly around this Crisis ‘report’ for numerous reasons that this ‘report’ overtly avoids by its repeated use of errors of omission, errors of commission and all round propaganda that even includes claiming success for a model which is not even a Housing First model at all.

How can being moved on be a Housing First nodel permanent property!!??

Regrettably, this is a common issue with Crisis as earlier this year its chief executive Jon Sparkes was effusive about the Scottish Housing First pilot recording zero (planned) evictions yet failing to mention it took 149 days on average across Scotland for Scottish Local Authorities to even find the suitable one-bedded property without any mention of this or any mention of where the rough sleeper resides for the 148 nights whilst they await the elusive one-bedded property becoming available in the first place.

The fact Crisis use the Aberdeen HF example in their propagandist ‘report’ yet choose to omit that the Aberdeen HF scheme takes 115 days to actually find the elusive one-bedded HF property in the first place and cannot possibly meet the Housing First model theory and criteria of immediately housing the rough sleeper characterises the propagandist errors of commission Crisis ‘report.’

The official Scottish Government HF report

The Housing First theory of providing the housing firstly and immediately simply cannot hold when it takes 5 months on average to even find a property! It was later revealed as I reported above that 77% of clients on the Edinburgh Housing First pilot were NOT former rough sleepers too and presumably other single homeless cohorts such as hostel dwellers and it took over 6 months on average (195 days) to find a one-bedded property for the Edinburgh Housing First client.

The 77% non rough sleeper charade and cherry picking

6. Housing First’s “just fund and don’t dare scrutinise” demand

Government MUST properly scrutinise the Housing First pilots before committing any more funding for them and this should have been done way before the issue of continuation funding was needed. It cannot be satisfied with the hyperbolic delusion of the Housing First advocates saying it is ‘success’ on a tell a lie often enough and people believe it basis! What if Housing First actually increases rough sleeping numbers which I argue it does? Why are we bombarded with never substantiated statements that Housing First works without asking for evidence and without defining what ‘works’ means in this context?

Why does nobody ever check basic facts and operate basic levels of scrutiny by asking how come when New York City began Housing First it had 33,000 rough sleepers yet after 20 years of HF operation it has 78,000?

Of course there could be many other reasons why the homeless rough sleeper population has increased in NYC and it doesn’t necessarily follow that adopting Housing First means greater homeless rough sleeper numbers. However, it most definitely does mean that there is no way anyone can say Housing First is a success in NYC is there!? Yet that is all we hear and read and this and other claimed ‘successes’ are never substantiated or evidenced they are just repeated in mantra fashion as part of the tell a lie often enough and people believe it strategy. The three large-scale pilot programmes in England are just that – PILOTS – which mean they must be scrutinised and in depth before any government funding commitment is made to scale-up. They need to be scrutinised vigorously and independently.

7 Housing First as cost-ineffective gravy trains?

The Crisis sham ‘report’ which alludes to be an official report to the APPG Homeless for whom Crisis provides the secretariat though covers itself with a disclaimer is highly selective on the cost of Housing First and even fails to state the £9,683 per Housing First client per year is JUST the cost of the visiting support with the rent cost being additional. Note too the rent cost will be far higher than normal as the housing benefit used to pay for it will be for furnished accommodation not the standard totally unfurnished SRS rehousing offer.

£9,683 per year is £185 per person per week in visiting support costs and as the claimed typical Housing First support offer is 3 hours per client per week this is over £60 per hour of support or unit cost which is extremely expensive and circa FOUR TIMES the costs when compared to the funding local authorities pay for one visiting hour of domiciliary care at £15 per hour or so. [A 2017 UK Home Care Association report saw £14.68 per hour as the average across England]

Further, as the Housing First worker to client support offer is three hours per week it gives a support worker to client ratio of 1:12 which means the support provider receives 12 times this £9,683 per person funding for each visiting support worker they employ which equates to £116,196 of funding for each visiting support worker employed!

I mention these admittedly crude ratios and figures so that the Housing First model is thoroughly and rigorously investigated as to cost and that a detailed examination of cost, capacity and impact on other homeless services is undertaken and BEFORE any additional government funding is ‘spaffed up the wall’ on this highly theoretic model.

What is the purpose of any pilot programme in the first place if not to rigorously scrutinise what the pilot programmes claimed to do in the first place.

The Housing First model like all other new initiatives does not operate in a vacuum and has impacts on the single homeless market it seeks to disrupt which is why I discuss the impacts on hostels and refuges and also compare the excessive Housing First visiting support costs to visiting care services.

Housing First I posit can at best provide a working solution to just 11% of rough sleepers and it can only manage this at exorbitant and unsustainable cost and to the detriment of all other single homeless groups by adopting a beggar they neighbour approach to the majority of single homeless persons and households.

In addition there are literally dozens of other aspects I could have detailed such as the rent costs and how can the PRS landlords in England ever provide a permanent escape property even before ill-considered aspects as the banning of no fault eviction proposals that will see PRS landlords taking flight from all of the single homeless rehousing market.

I could also detail many highly nuanced aspects such as how cherry picking the HF client means that hostels will become far more dangerous environments as they are the only option left for the most complex need and most violent rough sleeper.

Will hostels have to enhance their legally questionable but operationally necessary banning of certain homeless persons and what are the consequences of that aspect?

You can be sure the Housing First scheme will not unconditionally take arsonists and schedule one offenders and be equally sure that landlords, private and social, will not willingly accommodate such HF clients unconditionally on allocation and unconditionally agree not to evict during the HF tenancy!

These aspects are taken as they will happen by the deluded Housing First advocates and why they vehemently object to any real scrutiny of their extremely theoretic model that cannot work in practice which would be exposed by real independent scrutiny rather than Crisis PR propaganda or paid consultancy / paid academic reports saying what the clients wants them to say.

If you still believe that England does not need a root and branch and fully independent enquiry into the Housing First model and the impacts of scaling up this model then you are seriously mistaken. However, if you want more visible rough sleepers on the streets and more ‘aggressive begging’ and more retail outlets arguing for business rate reductions due to rough sleepers outside retail premises during the day and reducing footfall and thus retail profits, and all the other nefarious claims, then go ahead and lobby for the scaling up of the Housing First model and panacea that can only increase rough sleeper numbers

England’s most housing vulnerable, those without a roof that we call rough sleepers deserve far better than the Housing First unworkable farrago

__________________________

UPDATE 16:52pm

I forgot to source the comparative visiting care funding costs in the above and below is from a 2017 BBC website article on the funding crisis in social care which detailed average per hour funding cost for visiting care services (UKCHA – UK Care Home Association.)

See The Person? Nah! The SRS is seeing what it wants to see

Next week is #StopTheStigma week across social housing which is an extremely worthy cause as many believe and often state that social rented sector (SRS) housing is the housing of last choice.

The SRS want you to believe this housing of last choice tag is only said by those who do not live in the social rented sector yet anyone who saw the ITV News broadcasts and the appalling state of some SRS properties – which I correctly called shit holes here – means that the SRS has to get its own house in order first before it can castigate those outside the sector for the housing of last choice tag and belief.

More importantly UNTIL the SRS gets its own house in order the housing of last choice tag will remain and more so and the ITV News team are openly looking for more cases of what I rightly called tenant abuse by social landlords, typified by one tenant who was begged by her daughter NOT to speak with ITV News such was the daughter’s shame at the shit hole they are force to live in. The daughter has never brought any of her friends back to her home due to its ‘shit hole’ state which is also abuse and also an outrage from the SRS landlord involved.

ALL who work in the SRS should stop and imagine being that parent and that child

As I said at the time anyone who saw the ITV News broadcasts cannot UNSEE them and what they exposed was abuse, de facto abuse of tenants by purportedly social landlords. Not just abusive practises but de facto abuse.

The #StopTheStigma campaign is rightly supported by the Chartered Institute Of Housing (CIH) and TPAS (Tenant Participation Advisory Service) yet both these organisations are yet to condemn the abuse or respond officially to the ITV News broadcasts. That is a disgrace and the collaboration with #SeeThePerson campaign, which is also well merited, is demeaned by the non-condemnation of tenant abuse.

This is the ostrich syndrome being used by ALL of these organisations. You cannot orchestrate a campaign however worthy if you refuse to see the reality of the abuse that tenants are having imposed on them by SRS landlords. You cannot pretend it is inconvenient or doesn’t exist or that it hasn’t been seen by millions as part of the ITV News broadcasts … yet this is precisely what is going on with the ‘See The Person’ strategy.

It is truly perverse for social landlords to defend outsiders from calling the social tenant when the social landlord is abusing those same social tenants as a matter of routine.

The original ITV News broadcast revealed Clarion tenants had been living in unfit for human habitation properties for 6 years, and it would take another 5 years before that is addressed, and the chief executive of Clarion was given a £39k yearly bonus on top of a £343k pa salary for operating this shit hole properties. To add insult to injury the chief executive of the National Housing Federation then said she is sorry that tenants FELT not listened to, which is appalling and an adverse narrative created by landlords on tenants.

The only rational conclusion or deduction to be made is that social landlords and their lobbies in CIH and NHF and even the leading tenant group (TPAS) are playing at games of denial and their campaigns are of the fur coat and no knickers variety.

Get your own house in order and quickly before the notion of the SRS as the housing of last choice becomes intractably embedded in people’s psyche and as a result of the appalling abusive treatment social tenants receive from social (sic) landlords!

CIH, NHF, TPAS, all SRS landlords who have yet to publicly condemn the abuse of tenants by Clarion, Guinness and other supersized HAs have brought this on themselves by their inaction and abuse of tenants.

What are they all waiting for? Why are all these SRS actors scared shitless to publicly criticise the supersized housing associations? The same people you castigate for saying that the SRS is the housing of last choice will all have seen substantial evidence that the SRS landlord is no better than the PRS landlord, the proverbially nasty bastard landlord. They can’t UNSEE the ITV News broadcasts which the ‘great and the good’ of the SRS are seeking to deny never happened. WHEN the general public see that the SRS is NOT condemning the abuse of tenants and publicly then why the hell do you think they will get behind your campaigns of seeing the person?