Housing for dummies (after the election whoever takes office)

Reader – I am going to use the simplest words here to tell you that regardless of who the next government is if you are a tenant or a social or private landlord you are fucked.  This is (rented) housing for dummies and I repeat this will happen if Labour win a majority or lead a coalition or if the Tories remain in office with a majority or lead a coalition.

In again simple words it does not matter a jot who wins the election and so do please get out of the current mindset that everything is a political statement and every view, opinion or even fact has a political element.  This is as apolitical as it gets as both Labour and Conservatives just do not have a clue what they are doing as their manifestos confirm.

Both are committed to the overall benefit cap policy and that is why all tenants and all landlords are fucked.

[As the purpose of language is to be not misunderstood rather than to be understood my use of the word ‘fucked’ leaves you reader in no doubt as to what I mean, that is NOT MISUNDERSTOOD.  I therefore make no apologies whatsoever for using a word that pre-dates Chaucer]

53 per cent of social landlords have their knickers in a twist given the Tory proposal to extend RTB to the 53% of all social landlords who are housing associations.  Go commando for the next 10 minutes or so and read and digest this as this affects you and the 47% of other social landlords such as councils and ALMOs and it affects all social landlords irrespective of whether the Tory RTB extension ever comes to pass and if it ever gets in or out of court and whether or not it is just a gimmick to win votes (which in my view it is.)  That also means stop point scoring within the fragmented housing association sector whether you are in the privateer or traditionalist schisms within the HA world.

Got your attention?  Good, so lets begin….

Social tenants and social landlords are in broad agreement that the average bedroom tax that is currently £14.98 per household is a significant financial risk and is unaffordable.  That applies to households which UNDER occupy at present and will remain after the election if the Tories remain in power.  It will be abolished if labour form the next government.

Yet both will keep the benefit cap and here is what this will mean in 5 years time and just ahead of the next election.

1. If you are not in employment (unemployed, sick or disabled on ESA) then no private landlord will accommodate you at all.  Your only rented housing option is social housing.

2. YET if you are a one parent three child household you will have to pay £26 per week towards your rent in social housing if you live in London and £38 per week to top up your rent if you live outside of London in the Tory version of the overall benefit cap.  The tenant and the social landlord are fucked.

3. IF you are a 2 parent 3 child household then you will have to find £73 per week to top up your social housing rent in London and £83 per week if you live in social housing outside of London.  Well and truly fucked under the Tory OBC policy and fucked means the tenant cannot afford the cheapest rents and social landlords cannot afford the benefit tenant.

Under the Labour version of the OBC policy the 2 parent 3 child household will have to top up the London social rent with £12 per week and outside of London the social rent top up is £29 per week.  So this is slightly better but the social tenant paying a social rent will have to find almost double the current £14.98 pw bedroom tax which all things being equal will be circa £16.20 per week by 2020.

4. The one parent 4 child household will in London need to find £99 per week to top up the rent and everywhere outside of London will need to find £110 per week!  Under the Labour version this is £39 per week in London and £56 per week outside of London, that is Land’s End to John O’Groats with everywhere in between.

Larger households such as 2 person 4 children the weekly rent top up figures are £84 London, £101 elsewhere under the Labour Party version and £144 London and no HB whatsoever elsewhere.  The 1 parent 5 child and all other larger households will not get a penny in housing benefit.

As the current £14.98 average bedroom tax is unaffordable then the £26 pw – £38 per week cut and social tenant weekly rent top up for the 1 parent 3 child family is clearly unaffordable to the social tenant and the social landlord.  Note well this is for social rent and not for the misnamed affordable (sic) rent or AR model which on average would means a further £38 per week on top of these figures.  AR is as dead as a dodo as a policy for all social landlords  – the only thing the social tenant can thank the overall benefit cap for!

The benefit cap applies to tenants in receipt of IS, JSA and ESA (working group) and that is a huge proportion of HB claimants.  In fact the latest HB statistics reveal that 2,080,985 households were passported onto housing benefit because of receipt of IS, JSA and ESA. If 50% of those on ESA are in the working group this gives about 1.6 million working age households at risk of the overall benefit cap with the unaffordable weekly rent top ups it has as stated above.
When we look at this from the social landlords perspective the overall benefit cap will hit the 1 parent 3 child household and larger, or those that occupy and FULLY occupy the 3 bed or larger social housing property, and the English Housing Survey tells us that 35.02% of all social housing properties are 3 bed or larger.

35% of all social landlords tenanted properties are at risk if those tenants are in receipt of IS, JSA or ESA (working group) and that is an end of social housing financial risk that is far higher than the nonsensical and political gimmick of extending right to buy to housing associations.

Now that is the average figure, this 35%.  I did a quick look up on the Statistical Data Return published by the housing regulator last September at two specific housing associations.  One of them had 43% of its stock as having 3 beds or larger and the other had 63% so those two HAs have a 23% and 80% higher than average risk, or to continue my vernacular, extremely well fucked.

Of course should the Labour Party take office then all social landlords can :

  • Allocate 4 bed properties to single men and to all single women and to couple without children or with 1 child
  • Having 2 children as a social tenant is too big a financial risk as it is one pregnancy away (planned or unplanned) from being too high a financial risk

…as the bedroom tax is of no consequence.  YET the benefit cap is a consequence as explained above and the larger sized households become too big a financial risk.  Just where the hell these families can live is another question, yet as social landlords and private landlords definitively, will not house …. (OH FUCK!)

Yet if the Tories remain in office then all social landlords will:

  • Allocate only to working families and not to those on IS/JSA or ESA
  • Or to households where the female lone or couple partner has had a vasectomy and written proof of the same and agrees to put all her daughters on the pill as soon as they reach puberty! (Probably not an unfair contract term either if the Tories do get back in!!)

If you are of a given disposition it is perfectly ok to say FUCK FUCK FUCK under your breath as this IS what the overall benefit cap of the Tories and of the Labour Party means.  While I may well believe that this reveals both are truly fucking incompetent an this is not deliberate intent they are truly fucking incompetent and social landlords will be even more fucking incompetent if, as is their want, they carry on whingeing about RTB and fail to see the overall benefit cap is going to fuck them over anyway.

Social landlords need to challenge the overall benefit cap policy and win that fight.  If they don’t challenge and don’t win they are fucked as is the social housing model itself one of the 5 pillars of the welfare state.  The benefit cap means if you are not working (to include being sick and some disabled) then you WILL be evicted and made homeless.  It means if you lose a job given the average length of unemployment is (apparently) 13 weeks then you too will be evicted and lose job lose home.

The financial model which underpins all social landlords is fucked.

Social landlords lifeblood is housing benefit and necessarily so because it is only social housing that does accommodate the SODS (Sick, Old, Disabled, Supported) when (a) the private rented sector does not and (b) the SODS all require housing benefit.

Yet the overall benefit cap policy of BOTH the two parties who can only form the next government mean that for financial survival that social housing has to abandon the SODS that is has always accommodated as that is what social housing does!!

Hope you enjoyed going commando reader and while I do not apologise for the profane language above at least this will be the last time you read it as this is my last post.

Everyone now blogs and despite millions of views which pandered my ego, it takes far too much of my time and I need to concentrate on work and bringing in the income I have foregone in doing so these past three years.

Its been fun but ultimately purposeless and my heart goes out to the social tenant which in the next parliament will become synonymous with poverty, and if the Tories stay in office, synonymous with scrounging bastard.  

Is it me or can you reader also vividly hear the bugle playing the last post right now for the social tenant?


13 thoughts on “Housing for dummies (after the election whoever takes office)

  1. A man from my local housing association said to me: if people can’t afford to buy their own home then they are going to go through sheer hell…suffice to say there’s going to be a revolution over housing soon!
    Welcome to Victorian England revisited!

  2. Agree with Pam. Everyone may blog, but only some blogs are worth reading. I didn’t agree with everything you said, but you always made me think and brought a lot of matters to my attention that I otherwise would never have known about. Thanks for that. Enjoy being a retired blogger. You will be missed.

  3. We will all miss you Joe. It was with your advice that I made my Housing Benefit Appeal. Declined at lower tribunal because the upper tribunal fife case which was much the same argument as mine was declined. Oh well, I will ask for a statement of reasons just within the month, and ask to appeal to the upper tribunal, just within a further month, which will take us until after the election, when perhaps the fife case will have been taken further than the upper tribunal.

  4. so grateful for your advice and comments Joe, will miss you, you deserve a medal as big as a frying pan, good luck to you and your business, enjoy a good holiday this summer you deserve it.

  5. We owe the success of our Stop/Appeal group to you Joe. Who would have thought, when we started it, that so many members would now be exempt from the hateful bedroom tax! Without your help, and knowledge, thousands would still be struggling to pay this tax on the poor – or have lost their homes! I really hope you succeed in whatever you take on next – I’m sure you will. Let’s hope, also, that when Labour win the election, they see that this benefit cap cannot work – and abolish it along with the bedroom tax! I will continue to send their MP’s the facts, and hope they listen!

    I hope you’ll still be around when we need your advice. Thanks for everything Joe.

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