(Social?) Housing in 2016

What will 2016 bring for social housing?  Here are some thoughts of what will begin from April next year which will bring THE most radical changes to the social housing model ever seen.

  1. The reduced overall benefit cap will directly create a 5 fold increase in homelessness.
    • Private landlords will evict all benefit tenants with two or more children as they can no longer afford
    • Social landlords will evict all benefit families with 3 or more children as they cannot afford to house them
    • The ubiquitous 3 bed and larger social housing properties that make up 36% of all social housing stock is financially toxic and cannot be afforded by the tenant who is not working – those unemployed, sick and disabled.
    • A transfer of HB cost from central to local government running into the billions per year characterises the overall benefit cap (OBC) reductions
    • Almost 4 in every 5 households affected by the OBC will be in the regions and London moves from 1 in 2 of all affected to just 1 in 5 is what the numbers reveal
    • DHP payments will migrate from bedroom tax to benefit cap with devastating consequences for tenants and landlords and for example Liverpool City Council will see the OBC housing benefit shortfall move from £0.4m per year to £12 million per year.  The bedroom tax comparison is a £6.8 million shortfall
  2. Social landlords will develop shared housing provision for the under 35s. Housing Associations will take on private sector landlords in their own markets and the LHA maxima will see private landlords facing real competition as HA’s sweat their assets this way
    • Private landlords due to the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) have developed shared provision for years and financially it works and this model will be copied by social landlords.
    • Two tenants each paying £65 per week compares favourably to 1 household paying £90 per week for a 2 bed property and that is what the LHA maxima policy incentivises for social landlord.
    • The housing benefit bill will increase because of this and significantly so especially in the North as social landlords simply take up the Government objective of better use of stock / sweat their assets.
    • Private landlords in much of the regions will completely exit the housing benefit market and many will be forced to sell up their handful of properties they own – 90% of PRS landlords have less than 5 properties.
    • The above will see larger private landlords being formed as some of the ‘more professional’ ones seek greater market share and the ‘amateur private landlords’ seek to sell at the lower end of the market.
  3. The HA right to buy will fail spectacularly and will become a statutory not a voluntary issue.
    • The ONLY two certainties are that the voluntary RTB for HA tenants will fail as it is both unworkable and politically not acceptable to Government; and secondly that housing associations will be blamed for this spectacular failure by Government.
  4. Social landlords will reclaim accommodation from the charitable managing agents who run supported housing and will begin to reprovision the buildings currently used.
    • The LHA maxima will enforce radical changes and will see former refuges and hostels will become blocks of flats or student accommodation as social landlords take back accommodation provision they lease to their charitable managing agents.
    • All forms of supported housing that has an average length of tenure of less than 3 years will begin to fold – refuges. homeless and other hostels – as new tenancies from April 2016 become financially unviable from April 2018.
    • The small specialist supported housing charities who own their own buildings will go bust as their revenue funding in housing benefit become financially non-viable from 2018 and that reflects on the capital and asset value of such buildings.
    • The housing associations with a large supported housing presence such as Home Group and Riverside will face huge financial losses from the LHA maxima and all housing associations will flee the supported housing and sheltered housing markets as they become non financially viable due to the revenue funding implications of the LHA maxima.  This isssue is a far greater financial risk than the 1% imposed rent cut.
    • And because the revenue funding for supported and sheltered housing is so much at threat the capital funding for developing supported and sheltered will go.  Social landlords will only have an inclination NOT to develop supported and sheltered housing – in short it will never be built again and all refuges and homeless hostels and sheltered housing (especially extra care) will never be replaced
  5. Housing Associations will no longer be referred to as social landlords
    • Every one of the Government changes to housing and housing benefit policies massively disincentivises supported and sheltered housing and the provision of general needs social housing to the non-working tenant and that includes the sick, the old, the disabled and the supported – the SODS that social landlords currently provide housing for.

Forgive the terminology of SODS (and DOSS is also an acronym!) the issues are so great we can’t get embroiled in comparatively petty arguments over labels such as ‘the disabled’ or the ‘homeless’ or even SODS: What we are seeing is THE most fundamental change ever witnessed in the social housing model which is being written out of social policy history by ideological and deliberate Government intent.

The superficiality of Government housing and housing benefit policies is alarming and offensively so.  The LHA maxima is sold as its only equitable and fair that the social tenant receives no more in HB than a private tenant, yet scratch under the surface slightly and you see the alarming consequences outlined above.

The bedroom tax was also sold superficially just as the overall benefit cap was and is sold as a cost cutting measure when it will increase the public purse bill massively and far more than it has already done so as figures prove.  In April 2016 when the overall benefit cap falls £500 per calendar month in the 87% of the UK that is not London we will start to witness a transfer of public purse added costs of perhaps £3 billion per year from central to local government.  We will also see homelessness rocket and could see 500,000 children homeless and in temporary accommodation at Christmas 2016 compared to 100,000 now.

That is hugely offensive and amoral yet it is the economic cost of that and the other consequences such as increased rough sleeping, increased begging, increased shoplifting, increased unemployability, hugely increased council tax and hugely increased local services cut that will resonate more than the country abandoning its most vulnerable.

This Government steers the agenda onto the superficial and pithy spin it uses to sell these policies on the ideological bent they are formed and the passive media fails to report and consider the facts as those facts only appear a year or two down the line and before that any analysis of what will happen, even posits that are inevitable such as the huge increase in homelessness and the closure of all DV refuges are dismissed as speculative and politically motivated.

Wait until Universal Credit is fully rolled out and the bedroom tax affects the mixed age pensioner couple (one of state pension age the other not) and until it has to pay out the £24 billion of welfare benefit and tax credits now due but not claimed and everyone goes 44 days waiting for the first payment or that up to 40% of welfare benefit levels – what the law says is the minimum we need to live on – is deducted at source.  Or how about pay MORE to stay that will see pensioners in England having to do precisely that and it means a young couple both earning minimum wage see their social rent increase 200% overnight because their yearly wage income alone is £34 over the £30,000 high earner threshold!

That is the social policy context we have and the narrative of any welfare benefit claimant as the scrounger and shirker is promulgated incessantly by the Tory friendly media and by Channel 5 and others.  The more the general public is told it cannot afford the ‘welfare state’ the more it believes it and the general public shows antipathy to the removal of the social housing model created in the welfare state to slay the giant of squalor.

The general public rightly is up in arms if 1% or 3% of the NHS that was also created in the Welfare State is privatised yet couldn’t give a stuff is social housing disappears by 10% or 50% or even 100%!  The general public se the NHS as a sacred cow, yet see social housing as the housing of last resort and simply do not value the social housing model in the same way, yet they should.

You’ll never know what you miss until it’s gone runs the old cliche and the social housing model is being policied-out by this Government with a view to returning the power of homes for rent to the private market where they ideologically feel it belongs and a return to a modern-day form of Feudalism with the tenant as vassal.

In summary I have omitted many other inevitable consequences of this Government’s housing and housing benefit policy from the above and huge questions of where will those fleeing violence and abuse live, where will the sick, the old, the disabled, the supported and even those unworking ever live.  Where will and where can our children and grandchildren ever live as they certainly cannot afford private rented housing or home ownership even with the bank of Mum, Dad, Nana and Granddad.

The immediate term policies of something as stable as where 36% of the UK population live, and only focusing on the 64% who are now home owners is simply madness and very much to the deteriment of the country at large.  Even if all the current Government bungs of RTB and HomeBuy etc., are taken up to reach the top of the housing ladder we will never go above 66% or 67% home ownership levels ever again which still leaves 33% – 34% well and truly fucked by this Government’s housing policy of home ownership or die.

That is what 2016 will bring and very very quickly….but feel free to dismiss this as mere speculation which you probably will…until your son or daughter or sister or brother or grandchildren are well and truly fucked over and you witness it first hand, which you will starting from 2016.

Happy New Year


13 thoughts on “(Social?) Housing in 2016

  1. Why are the HA and “Social Housing” landlords taking it up the jacksee?
    Why aren’t they fighting back?
    n.b excuse me if some have, it’s just I haven’t heard about it.

  2. Hiya Joe. What are the implications for the country wide Salvation Army hostels, forums etc? Are they as dire as you (indirectly) imply? I’m in my mid fifties, and wily enough not to dismiss anything that you have concluded.  Thanks – Joe (Kaliszczak)

    Sent from Samsung Mobile

    1. Large national organisations such as SA and YMCA face HB cuts running well into 6 figures in every town and city they operate. In Liverpool for which the figures are known and in the public domain both in excess of £500k per year, ie closure

  3. Joe sorry to sound a bit of a pessimistic, I guess this year will be same old crap from Riverside:
    A selection of past examples to prove my point, just past repairs don’t start on about improvements .

    Mersey North
    1998-2004 to change an electric fuse box.
    2005-2008 to reglaze a broken skyline and deal with damp.
    2006-2007 to replace a damaged door lock.

    Mersey South
    2012-2015 deal with damp and poor flooring.

    Another year and the same of crap, its really depressing and pisses me off!

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