Social Housing Numbers and social landlord incompetence!

The latest government figures released today for 2014/15 show there are 5.04 million UK social housing properties consisting of 2.14 million UK council properties (42% of total) and 2.9 million housing association properties (58%).


For the UK and GB we see 3 in every 5 social housing properties owned by housing associations and these more correctly named Private Registered Providers have 50% more social housing than councils.

Scotland and Northern Ireland are outliers as they have a majority of social housing under council and thus public control and that is one of many simple facts that reveal that the social housing market in the UK is extremely fragmented as I will return to below.

The figures also show a net increase of 10,000 English social housing properties so despite what we read from social landlords and especially housing associations who are fixated on build, build, build, the social housing capacity increased by just 0.24%

The private rented sector increased by 125,000 in England in 2014/15 and expanded by over 12 times the social housing increase in capacity

dwelling stock

The increase of 173,000 dwellings in England saw just 5.78% of that increase come from social housing and 94.22% of new housing in England was NOT owned by social landlords.

For a sector fixated on build, build, build, these are woeful figures and cannot be described any other way.  As I always say numbers do not lie.

The same official figures here show a very marked difference inter-regionally, intra-regionally, between shire (13.89%) and metropolitan (22.17%) and unitary councils (16.55%) and also massively so within London which has 24% of all housing being council housing against the average social housing percentage in England of 17.71%

A number of London boroughs have over 40% of all housing in their area being social housing with Southwark at 43.48%, Hackney at 43.32% and Islington at 41.78%.  Additionally Camden, Tower Hamlets and Lambeth all have more than double the social housing of the average English council.

Yet the housing media from trade journals to national newspapers and TV always bemoans the amount of social housing in the capital when London at 24% has on average 50% more social housing than any other English region at around 16%.

On a national level the figures reveal the rank incompetence of social housing as  the same official figures today reveal that since the millenium that only other competitor in the rented housing market has DOUBLED its share despite being an inferior product and inferior service and at a much higher price!

england tenure 2001 - 2015

In 2001 social housing had 20.5% of the total English housing market and the PRS had less than half of that at 10.1%.  By 2011 the PRS with its inferior product and inferior service at a more expensive cost overtook the better product, service and cost social housing in terms of market share!

Let that sink in!

Look again at the figures and timeline housing people and you will see the greatest increases in the PRS occurred not when this current government massively reduced ‘subsidy’ but under the last Labour government when subsidy levels and indeed the Decent Homes Programme poured billions into social housing … But then #ukhousing always has to blame someone else as they are incapable of being at fault  – just another of the pervasive conceits which exist within the world of social housing.

You can’t lean from past mistakes if you do not admit in the first place that you made mistakes yet Humean Empiricism is totally absent from #ukhousing as it cannot admit past failings such as not promoting the social housing model with its better product, better service, better price components.

A big part of #ukhousing’s problem is that it sees itself as some form of homogeneous sector when, in fact, it never has been and never will be, and will always remain 342 very divergent housing markets in 342 English local authority areas.  It tends to see single solutions – the current one being build build build – as the panacea to 342 very different indeed housing markets and what may work in Southwark with 43% of all housing being social will simply not work in Harrow with just 11%.  They are two fundamentally different housing markets in the same region.

That also goes for Stockport with 13.73% social housing and its direct neighbour Manchester with 31.73% social housing and the same huge variances occur in every region and sub-region across England.  Simple calls to regulate the private rented sector will see the same lack of solution even if any government has the inclination to go down that path which they do not.

The same inept #ukhousing ‘sector’ has never promoted the importance of its model in economic terms of having a good supply of cheaper and stable social housing that attracts inward investment, or the fact that by definition social housing with its much cheaper rent levels means it is easier to take up employment compared with higher cost less stable private rented housing as you have to earn more to afford PRS housing and make work pay.

The only reason there are more social tenants on welfare benefits than there are in the private rented sector is because the PRS does NOT and in some cases is excluded from offering housing to the pensioner, the sick, the disabled and those who need support.  These are the “workless” in that offensive term and the only place the “workless” can live is the social rented sector as no options exist in the PRS.

Yet only this week we have had a debate with the ‘rising stars’ in housing over whether social housing encourages dependency!! With that level of thinking amongst the so-called housing leaders of tomorrow there is no cause for confidence that social housing can get out of its largely self-created mess!!

In summary those pesky facts called numbers reveal the stark levels of incompetence that pervade across the so-called social housing sector

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13 thoughts on “Social Housing Numbers and social landlord incompetence!

  1. Numbers don’t lie but they can also mask the truth! I don’t dispute the figures at all but reading it cold, it reads like housing association delivery of new homes is woefully short of the private sector where builders are building 100,000 more homes than us. 1 in 3 NEW homes are built by HAs. What your figures show is one of the main factors causing the housing crisis we have and that is private investors scooping properties up for rent. This is driving values up and pricing genuine buyers out of the housing market, fuelling demand and in turn pushing values up again.

    I was with someone yesterday who was telling me about his friend who regularly buys up to 1000 first class tickets to fly investors over from Beijing to see his developments where they buy them off plan.

    Now in terms of the number of new homes, quite simply as a housing industry we are not building anywhere near enough homes, on this we agree, and I also agree that some HAs should be building many more homes than they do but this doesn’t apply to the many developing organisations who are squeezing the pips out of our business plans to develop as many new affordable homes as we can.

    1. If squeezing the pips which I don’t doubt only produces this low amount where has all the hyperbole come from over HA mergers = rivals for major house builders come from?!!! That is simply not going to happen

      1. Well we are developing 1000 homes from an asset base of just over 5000 over a 4 year period. That’s 20% growth. If same ratio applied at the bigger HAs then numbers would be much higher. I can see HAs rivalling the main large housebuilders for output but not the whole private market. I think we should be aiming for around 40% of all homes built to come from HAs.

      2. 20% over 4 years yes but large % of RPs not developing and rarely have in the past. 5% per year on total 2.9m HA stock would be 145k per year and still 100k pa short of the 250k universally assumed target

      3. Agree. I fully support a use it or lose it line for surplus. I’ve got into hot water with some others in the past by making this comment as they don’t see development as the priority which for them is maintaining the condition of homes for existing tenants. This I fully understand but with such an acute housing crisis My personal view is that we should put a roof over everyone’s heads first then can focus on ensuring the kitchen is as modern as can be for every customer. And don’t forget the 250k per annum is total new supply so not all down to HAs!

    1. This 1 in 3 new homes claim has no source and whenever anyone is asked for it no one can produce. At times it’s qualified as 1 in 3 in London, but again no source. Economist had this as just 15% as only source I can see.

      1. It is difficult to pull together (which is hard to believe and I didn’t believe it when first made enquiries). The NHF are doing a piece of work on this to get hard data. However, in 2014-15, using data from there were 152,400 new dwellings completed in the UK. HAs built 31,870 of these or 21% or 1 in 5. What these figures don’t show is how many of the properties counted within the private developer count (118,060 in this year) are affordable homes via s106 agreements not yet sold to a HA. I also understand that the HA figures don’t include any properties for outright sale or market rent developed by HAs. They also don’t include any existing properties purchased as existing satisfactory or for refurbishment/empty homes brought back into use. When you factor all of this in I don’t think the 1 in 3 is too far from reality but agree we absolutely should be able to back this all up!

  2. Don’t agree with the use it or lose it surplus comment (while appreciating fully its not that black or white) and often said (and again unsourced) that 4 in 5 HAs don’t develop.

    The LSVTs largely in one area have a radically different agenda to the non LSVT HA in 150 LA areas and its very much horses for courses of each individual organisation and as the main post says there are at least 342 very different housing markets just in England and not just one countrywide need or not for more housing and of whateve type or form.

    The notion of some form of universal ‘sector’ with a set of common housing goals or needs is a huge myth which much of the “sector” bases its views on. There is huge inter and intra regional housing needs and some LAs have 40%+ social housing within them and others as little as 6% – one huge difference and a key variable that cant be reduced to any form of national universal need.

    The LSVT HA in a sole area with the right balance or amount of social rented properties within that given area has far less need to develop than most others and over 50% of HAs are these LSVTs who inherited poorly maintained ex council stock and so decent homes far more a business priority than new build for logical reasons.

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