Yesterday saw the Labour Mayor of Liverpool proclaiming a deal signed to bring much needed new housing to the city.
Yet all is not what it seems and this is a con as the new 3 and 4 bed social housing is the “Affordable (sic) Rent” model which are between 29% and 33% MORE expensive than social housing rents in the city by the same (allegedly) social landlord Liverpool Mutual Homes.
In this news release we see the following very pertinent extract:
Last year, the city council announced the Liverpool Housing Partnership agreement with private developer Redrow Homes, affordable housing provider Liverpool Mutual Homes (LMH) and property contractor Wilmott Dixon to drive up the range and quality of properties in the city.
“Affordable housing provider…LMH” – what a devious term I emphasise as LMH, the former council housing department, are planning to build ONLY ‘affordable (sic) rent’ properties and NOT properties for social rent and that difference is huge.
The social housing regulator, the HCA, produces yearly statistics for all housing associations such as LMH (which it terms PRIVATE REGISTERED PROVIDERS by the way) and we have an official dataset of what that means by LMH in Liverpool that was published in September 2014 for 2013/14 figures. This reveals that LMH:
- Charge an average £80.67 per week in a social rent property YET charge 29.4% more for a 3 bed AR property at £104.37 per week.
- An added rental of £23.70 per week – an ADDITIONAL £1,236.63 per year for a 3 bed
- Charge an average £87.76 per week in social rent property YET charge 32,65% more for a 4 bed AR property at £116.41 per week.
- An added rental of £28.65 per week – an ADDITIONAL £1,359.01 per year
Oh dear the Labour Mayor of Liverpool who proclaims himself to be a humble man of the people is trying to pull the wool over our eyes by exultantly proclaiming rent rises of between 29% and 33% are a good thing for Liverpool tenants.
I have only included the 3 and 4 bed figures as that is what has been signed to be built in this first phase of the Mayor’s ‘wonderful’ hoodwinking exercise as the article explains.
Note too that LMH are in merger talks with the much bigger Symphony Housing Group, that includes the likes of Liverpool Housing Trust and Cobalt Housing amongst its members in Liverpool, and doubtless they will wish to avoid the obvious bad publicity that surrounds this charade and hoped for it to be announced before the ‘merger’ talks were announced. LMH also have a history of shall we say dubious repute with regards to their employment practises too.
That said the real issue apart from the hoodwinking and that housing associations such as LMH are part of the privateer band of HAs who think they can mix it with the big boys in the financial world (ie crass naivety!) is that AR is the most incompetent strategy for any social landlord given the welfare reforms.
As I explained here the coalition plan to reduce the benefit cap to £440.79 per week and this means that no social landlord, even in a low rent areas such as Liverpool, can afford to accommodate a household of 2 parents and 3 children or larger.
LMH will make sure these 3 and 4 bed AR rented properties are not under occupied as the bedroom tax would kick in should the tenants come out of work for any reason. This means the 3 bed AR properties will accommodate the household with 1 or 2 parents and at least 3 children and the 4 bed R properties will see 1 o2 parents and 4 or more children.
YET should the 2 parent 4 child household lose employment or have to give it up for whatever reason they will receive at most £39.07 per week in Housing Benefit yet their rent will be at least £104.37 per week as above and that will also increase in April this year. So there is no way this household can afford to find the £70 or so per week to be able to pay their rent!
Such a family WILL UNDOUBTEDLY BE EVICTED because of losing employment and that is what LMH and Mayor Joe are now proclaiming to be a good idea!!
WHEN those families get evicted they are going to cost Mayor Joe’s council, my home city of Liverpool, hundred of pounds more per week in temporary homeless provision. This is madness and short-term thinking on an epic scale – and note the 1 parent 5 child household gets just £13.78 per week in Housing Benefit too.
Zero hours contracts and continued employment prospects? What about new home new baby that often happens? What if the sole wage earner leaves his wife for a younger model? Excuse the sexism in that comment but these are all foreseeable eventualities that do happen and there are many more typical scenarios.
Quick lets sign the deal so I can claim some PR says Joe the Mayor and to hell with the consequences for the tenants or for my councils budgets when it goes tits up! Quick let’s make a few bob through increasing rents by a third so we can issue some glossy PR says LMH.
This is utter madness and immediate term PR gain and to hell with thinking this through!
What’s more is that it is deceit as a Labour politician in Mayor Joe has actually fell hook line and sinker for the coalition madness that is AR.
Liverpool like most towns and cities across the country is crying out for smaller properties and evidenced by the bedroom tax inability to downsize for the 10,000 or so of its social tenants victimised by the bedroom tax policy yet the Mayor decides to get in bed with the privateers and build 300 new 3 and 4 bed properties!
On every level, economic, political, business and social this is a disaster waiting to happen.