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
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!
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