LHA maxima, Willy Wonka and ‘social?’ landlords golden ticket

This Conservative governments LHA maxima policy means in relation to what we euphemistically call social housing:

  • Non resident warden sheltered housing model may just about survive barely
  • Resident warden sheltered housing model is dead as a Dodo
  • Extra Care (housing, support and health & social care) model is deader than the deadest Dodo
  • Supported Housing model both accommodation based and floating support is another Dodo (DV refuges, homeless hostels et al)
  • Supported Living Model (housing with support and/or care for mental health or disability etc) is a Dodo on a life support machine awaiting a transplant
  • In some areas even the bog-standard core social rent model is attached to a defibrillator as social rent levels already higher than private sector LHA rate.
  • Affordable (sic) Rent model is a Norwegian Blue pining for the fjords (thankfully!)

This will happen right across the country (see here and here and here and here) except in London which has perversely high Local Housing Allowance or LHA rates this will happen and that exclusion is significant.

As we know and have known for decades the 87% of UK housing that is not in London is dictated to by housing policy created for the 13% of housing of all forms that IS in London.  It simply is and that statement is much more than a moan.

If you live in John O’Groats or Land’s End then your housing circumstances are dictated by London’s housing market, whether that is the interest rate you pay on your mortgage, the level of private rent or social rent and in renting terms all of the associated benefit policies in housing benefit such as the LHA maxima which kills off most social housing models.

London’s perverse housing market dictates to the rest of the UK who do not have London’s housings unique and atypical factors. Yet all social (ahem!) landlords want is more of the fecking same when almost all of their service delivery models above are defunct and that is heavily influenced by the London social housing hierarchy and its detritus of housing commentators that surround it!

A fundamentally serious business question then arises of … Just how far can you stick your head up your own backside housing people? Just carry on building the same old same old product for which the service delivery models in 87% of the country don’t allow to function that product and service it as it should be.

Social housing is all about building more properties right?  Social housing is 100% focused on adding 100,000 new properties per year to the existing 4.7 million you have right?  Social housing is all about adding this new 2% and ignoring the existing business and service you provide right? – Bollocks!

Read any housing article and its all about more more more … and not one jot about what social housing is or is supposed to be … it’s only about new new new … a bit like a petulant spoilt brat.

Social landlords – and especially the London based privateering housing associations who pull the strings of the National Housing Federation drive and lead all social landlords whether housing association or not and wherever they operate in the UK – have become the epitome of Veruca Salt !

verucasalt

 

We Willy Wonka’s need more, we want it now, we are only fixated on the new on the more on the golden ticket that is the universal panacea to the housing crisis, blah, blah, blah!

Do remove those oversized heads from your rectum and think for once!

Who are you, what are you, why are you here instead of we need more more more and new new new; and instead of blaming all others and deflections of 3am parliamentary sittings on a housing Bill that in itself contains nowhere near the risks to social housing and your survival than the non Bill of the LHA maxima dictat, it is way past time you woke the hell up.

Keep going on blaming Corbyn’s reshuffle as the Guardian did today as another deflection on the Housing & Planning Bill which is inconsequential compared with the LHA maxima non Bill if you must as that is all too typical of your inability to get your heads out of your backsides and think anything other that the housing crisis is just about the supply of more more more and nothing else!

Then again the Guardian only ever sees social housing from the London perspective which is a radically different one to the 5 in every 6 social housing properties not in the capital and they will continue as they have always done, as indeed the rest of the national press and the housing trade press does and see all housing issues (social, private and home ownership) from the London, London, bloody London view.

Some people used to think Earth was flat and you could sail off the edge and into the abyss and UK housing’s great and good are their modern-day equivalent as the abyss is anywhere outside the M25!

This London-driven hierarchy of housing’s great and good have more more more and new new new still as their strategy despite it being the strategy of the buffoon and idiot and despite the service delivery models of 87% of UK housing being made defunct due to the LHA maxima. Perhaps they may think of ramping up production of Betamax VCRs while they are of this mind?

The real immediate and most important of the many crises within social housing is the way you operate, the service delivery models that are systematically being wiped out by despotic ideological superficial dictat and fiat in the form of statutory instruments such as the LHA maxima policy.

And what are you doing about this issue? The greatest risk to the survival of the social housing model created in the 1948 Welfare State to slay the giant of squalor? It appears to be bugger all except moan and then move on to more more more and new new new – and your really do need to stop prevaricating and stop being apathetic and you really do need to act and act now.

Unless housing’s great and good believe McVey or IDS and those with a disability will get better and they may also believe that zero hours contracts are about to become obsolete as we embark on a full employment strategy and who may also believe that no one ever ages- the core tenant of social housing will always be the same as the core tenants now and that will still be for example 3 times as many pensioners as the PRS accommodates regardless of private or other status housing associations have and upon which they are fixated.

Yesterday after I revealed that the sheltered housing model in all its forms is kaput and used rent levels in Liverpool, Barnsley and Wales to explain, I dug deeper and much deeper into sheltered rent levels in all other areas of England and the scale of the LHA maxima cut is much worse than I first thought and the financial risk to all types of HA landlord, big and small, and wherever locate outside of London is huge.

A few points and stated from my 20+ years of experience in developing, checking, and monitoring HB and other funding streams for many hundreds of supported and sheltered housing schemes.  I am well versed in the complexities of HB regulations and what they allow as HB eligible costs and also the variables that can see apparently similar services differ in rent levels by apparently baffling and significant amounts.

Firstly, there are huge rent differentials in sheltered housing from what are very similar schemes and critically after scrutinising the variables which could make them not like-for-like.  This is within the same LA areas and by comparison across LA’s and I am talking about 30%+ rent differentials after allowing for these variables.  In short, some landlords are charging way more than others for the same product and service and often in the same local authority area.

Perhaps this is why social landlords are NOT making a fuss?

Secondly, there are a number of areas which will see the LHA maxima cap cut housing benefit paid to sheltered housing tenants by over £60 per week and some isolated cases of over £80 per week.  This is £3,000 per year in many cases and over £4,000 per year and no sheltered tenant can afford to make up the rent shortfall at these levels which are between 4  – 6 times the average bedroom tax HB reduction of £15 per week.

What those shortfalls mean and even though they are delayed until 2018 is huge for social landlords and especially for those HA’s with a high percentage of sheltered stock and for smaller HA’s with lower percentages of total stock yet a reasonable percentage of overall turnover.  This is not just an issue for the very large HA’s in sheltered (and supported) housing, it is an issue for almost ALL housing associations and a grave financial issue for some.

I will not reveal names here and I am very much not over egging the pudding but some housing associations will be so financially stricken by the LHA maxima policy that they WILL close as they cease to be financially viable – that is how serious the LHA maxima policy is.

We will probably see many more Cosmopolitan scenarios happen – HA failing then taken over to save the sectors face – because of the LHA maxima.  We will definitely see huge redundancies from some social landlords and probably they will be said to be due to the 1% rent cut threats and not LHA maxima ones and thus disguised and opaquely hidden.

Some big hitters in the HA world are going t have staggering levels of LHA maxima cuts if they carry on operating as the do today.  It will be better for some of them to pull out of sheltered housing altogether and many are likely to reduce sheltered housing over time and they will be revising all new developments and may begin to operate self-payer only admissions to sheltered from April this year for voids which arise.

I could develop and draft many more arguments on just how stark the LHA maxima cut will be and how radically it will alter all forms of sheltered housing provision which will whittle away over time and quickly become loss making as housing seeks to find an alternate use for its sheltered schemes which they will not close for political sensibility reasons.

I will admit to be being surprised at how much of a financial exposure issue the LHA maxima policy is for sheltered housing and of course the exposure and cuts are far greater fro all forms of supported housing and supported living model services.  Yet, DV refuge provision excepted, very little supported housing has the political sensitivity of sheltered housing and I have been concentrating on finding ways to raise much greater awareness of the LHA maxima impact, which is hard enough given the often undeserving tag most supported housing gets and for a policy that will not hit until 4 April 2018.  Oh we will pencil that in to look at in January 2018 etc and we are dealing with immediate issues now.

Yet the LHA maxima is a huge immediate issue as all sheltered housing and supported living model provision has to amend its admission policies and strategies and business plans now or at least ahead of April 2016, a mere 3 months away.

Further and critically because the LHA maxima policy is not part of any primary legislation such as the current Housing & Planning Bill, but can and will be introduced if unopposed by the dictat of a statutory instrument, the minute that SI is drafted is the minute all challenge evaporates and dies.  It is not a case at all that LHA maxima cap is 27 months away, it is 27 seconds away and requires immediate challenge now.

So, that is the real relevance of housing being fixated on more more more and new new new and social and other media opprobrium over 3am parliamentary sittings of a frankly less significant Housing & Planning Bill or whether you are into Corbyn bashing or not.

Or as I usually finish my blogs in concise unambiguous terms – wake the fuck up!

 

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6 thoughts on “LHA maxima, Willy Wonka and ‘social?’ landlords golden ticket

    1. No – on the proviso that the council know of the LHA maxima policy.

      To explain and assuming the 50 bed sheltered unit takes its first tenants after 4 April 2016 and the rent level paid by HB is £150 per week.

      From April 2016 to end of March 2018 the £150 pw in HB will be paid for all sheltered tenants YET on 4 April 2018 the maximum HB falls to the Northampton 1 bed LHA rate which is £100.05 which means that all of the tenants claiming HB need to find £49.95 per week out of their income or savings to pay the rent.

      If 75% on HB this means the landlord will receive £1,848.15 per week less in HB which is £96,367 per year less and the sheltered scheme becomes non financially viable and the scheme closes because of that.

      1. Thanks Joe
        I emailed the Head of Housing and Wellbeing at NBC giving that view and expect a response next week?

        Dear Mr Adams

        I write to thank you for your email sent to Phil Harris today (Friday 8th January).

        I will ensure Mr Harris receives your email when he returns from his meeting and he will respond back to you next week.

        Kind regards

        Secretary to Head of Housing and Wellbeing
        Northampton Borough Council,

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