Social housing is bankrupt and NHF strategy hastens insolvency

Sheltered housing, supported housing and DV refuges will all close AND will never be built again from TODAY all due to the Conservative’s LHA maxima housing benefit policy.

CORRECTION – that will happen right across the UK EXCEPT in London  – and that is why nobody is making a fuss about it.

The allegedly ‘National’ Housing Federation only ever see all housing issues from the narrow myopic London, London, Bloody London view and no other.

Yesterday I released a table for every English area as to how much of a housing benefit cut will be for a 1 bed sheltered housing property and it shows – starkly – that the LHA maxima wont affect the pensioner in London yet the pensioner in Hull will face a shortfall of £70 PER WEEK which they will have to make up from their pension or from savings.

Look at the rightmost column to see just how much per year of a housing benefit cut this is to a pensioner with a (low) typical £140 per week sheltered housing rent level.


As you can see this means a £3,500 HB cut in Barnsley and a near £2,000 per year HB cut in Bury St Edmunds and a near £1,000 per year cut in Bristol YET Central London has no issue at all and if the pensioner is charged £260 per week for a 1 bed sheltered property then housing benefit will pay it all while only paying out £72 per week in Barnsley.

It also means from April 2016 that social landlords cannot AFFORD to rent to a pensioner in their sheltered housing schmes if that pensioner claims housing benefit – the poorest pensioners will have nowhere to live and that is all down to the Conservative’s LHA maxima policy announced in the Autumn Statement by George Osborne and confirmed in parliamentary written answers by DWP in December 2015.

This issue also means that no sheltered housing, whether warden or non-resident warden and including extra care (which has been ‘sexy’ to housing these past few years) will ever be built again from TODAY as housing benefit will NOT pick up the tab.  There is no point in seeking the capital funding if the revenue funding makes the provision non financially viable.

The same goes for homeless hostels and every other vulnerable client group you can think of and applies to domestic violence and abuse refuges which will be the first to close.  Without any hyperbole at all the LHA maxima is a policy of killing more women as they cannot flee and is government policy!

Today also sees Glorious Leader David Orr of the National (sic) Housing Federation promoting various NHF conferences and saying what 2016 holds for social housing and YET AGAIN missing out that sheltered housing is dead and none will ever be built again. He says:

Supported housing

There is a growing crisis in supported housing, with a 15,600 shortfall in places this year, increasing to almost 30,000 places over the next four years. More recently, proposals on capping Housing Benefit in social housing to Local Housing Allowance levels would have a catastrophic effect on supported housing pushing many services over the edge.

This cannot happen. Housing associations must have the security of income they need to provide supported and sheltered housing for now and for the future and this is a key priority for the Federation this year. I’ll be talking more about this at our Future of Welfare Conference on Thursday 21 January, and members will be hearing from me via email as well. For more information on this work, please contact Jenny Allen.

Note well he discusses the LHA maxima cap in relation to both supported AND sheltered housing yet he ONLY says that proposals on capping Housing Benefit in social housing to Local Housing Allowance levels would have a catastrophic effect on supported housing ONLY and no mention that this will affect sheltered housing… because it doesn’t affect sheltered housing in London, London, Bloody London, but it does affect everywhere else!!

This is the same NHF who got into bed with this Conservative government over the voluntary right to buy (which isn’t a right at all!) and whose members are actively involved in sheltered housing and developing more of it.  The same NHF members who are chomping at the bit to build, build, build yet who do NOT realise that they cannot build any new sheltered housing as it is wholly non financially viable.

Yes Glorious Leader David Orr all those pipeline developments all your members have for sheltered housing and for which they have done years of work seeking the capital funding to build are all shot to pieces as the revenue funding for them in housing benefit is not there….except in London, London, Bloody London!

And Glorious Leader you are in a bit of a pickle too as you have got into bed with Greg Clark at CLG where housing sits yet the LHA maxima is a DWP policy and you have no pull there whatsoever with DWP and the Treasury have you?  Are you and Greg Clark going to publicly come out and say the DWP housing benefit policy has fucked over the CLG and Number 10 priority of building more housing?  A really tricky one and you better start some more bed hopping!

All NHF members who are heavily into supported and sheltered housing have had their entire business plans and business model shot to pieces by the LHA maxima and yet we have barely a whimper from the National (sic) Housing Federation?

All regional housing associations thought they were only second-tier in relation to the voluntary RTB (sic) deal yet it’s much worse as the NHF prove the London, London, Bloody London strategy pervades across all of their dealings. Of course you won’t challenge or dare criticise Glorious Leader for being the G15 puppet and not even welcome him to the stage playing Sandie Shaw theme music though he is apparently happy for women to be barefoot …. and pregnant in the kitchen and with more and more bruises as they have nowhere to flee.  Never has tenant retention strategies ever gone this far before eh?

What angers me and should anger all social housing professionals is not just the closure of sheltered and supported housing and the death of all models within both of those, it is the public sycophancy from HA CEO and Director all saying hat a wonderful job Orr and the NHF is doing.  Anyone who dares criticises however constructively is a dinosaur or just politically opposed to the rampant private and commercial path the NHF wishes HA’s to go down.

YET going blindly down that commercial path and ONLY focusing on London London, Bloody London the NHF totally miss that the business plans and business model of the overwhelming majority of its members are shot to pieces and sheltered and supported housing is dead and buried and so many housing associations will fold as they themselves become financially non-viable entities though doubtless the G15 have plenty of white chargers ready to come in and save the day a la Cosmopolitan.  Stabling the unstable?

With the knock-on impacts we can all see the LHA maxima policy fundamentally destabilising the entire social housing model for general needs housing and of course it buggers up the affordable (sic) rent model too so many HA’s are well and truly non-financially viable as from April 2016 – a mere 11 weeks away – and David ‘Glorious Leader’ Orr doesn’t even have a piece of white paper to wave to the adoring masses a la Chamberlain does he?

Do wake the hell up


8 thoughts on “Social housing is bankrupt and NHF strategy hastens insolvency

  1. Good piece as always Joe. Unless I have missed a backtracking on this, there will be an impact on London HAs Supported Housing in terms of only paying the shared accommodation rate for under 35s – the gap between the shared rate and the 1B rate in my own borough, Lewisham, is £109. It will make many types of scheme unviable – notably young single homeless, learning disability schemes (due to the younger age profile with Downs Syndrome) The NHF has been conspicuous by its silence on this issue.

    1. Spoken like a general needs housing professional Kevin?

      Interesting question that has had much discussion over many years and the former CEO of Anchor once – correctly – said sheltered is NOT supported housing. I could write 5000 words easily just on that thorny question and highly objectively and my conclusion would be it is not and its very difficult to summarise in such a short reply.

      A refuge only admits if you’re fleeing violence, a MH supported living group home if you have a MH issue, a hostel only if you are homeless – in short the vulnerable support issue is a necessary criterion for residence. In sheltered the only criterion is age, which while it can be associated with infirmity, is not always equated or the case.

      Supporting People exposed this as the average support charge for sheltered housing was less than £12 per week which buys about 30 minutes per week and evidences little by way of actual support deliver per person. If Mrs Jones gets 2 hours then 3 others on average get none. In fact SP in taking out the general needs cross subsidy it had always received and the rent unpooling issue in LA stock further revealed that – in short many residents at a sheltered housing scheme do not get support other than the general reassurance of hard-wired emergency cords etc.

      The old labels of Category 1, Category 2 and Category 2.5 (rightly changed to extra care or assisted living) also reveal that sheltered is not necessarily supported housing and that not all tenants receive support. Many do and many need yet many are also there without support need in what we used to call Cat 1.

      I could regale you with tales of dozens of seminars conferences etc I attended 20+ years ago with the obligatory badge saying “Supported Housing Manager” or the like and being asked how many sheltered units I had from just another general needs housing delegate who wrongly equated the two.

      True supported housing has always been fully person centred while sheltered and especially Cat 1 has and often remains mostly bricks and mortar centred with a splash of person centred added when needed. Cat 2 a bit more and extra care is person centred and is supported housing, yet extra care makes up less than 10% and probably less than 5% of all ‘sheltered.’

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