Social housing and immigration – Myth busting and other useful stuff

I have lost count of the number of times I have heard ‘immigrants get all the council houses’ and it is a myth and easily proven to be a myth as the official data reveals.

Yesterday the National Statistics on social housing lettings was released.  This is the most authoritative research and is the actual data or very simply the facts.  It revealed that 90.4% of council and housing association properties were let to UK Nationals who were born here.

That means 9.6% of social housing was let to non UK born persons or the immigrant in the typically perceived definition of that term by the general public.

Yet the UK population has 13.8% being non UK born or the immigrant and so all things being equal you would expect 13.8% of all social housing to be let to the ‘immigrant’ yet it is only 9.6%.


Any argument on the lines of the immigrant is prioritised for social housing or they get an unequal and high share of social housing is a myth.  In fact the figures show that the immigrant does get an unequally LOW share of social housing – and that reflects the facts of whom social landlords can accommodate and allocate properties to.

The 13.8% of the UK population that is the official ONS figure for 2015/16 for non UK born and thus the ‘immigrant’ in common parlance is often stated to be a low figure with the we all know there are more immigrants than the figures state‘ and such similar assertions that border on racism and xenophobia.

Yet if that were true then the allocation of social housing of just 9.6% is even more unfairly low as instead of 13.8% it would be higher.

The assertion that the immigrant gets all the council housing will always remain a myth and will always be contentious yet it can only be a notion or assertion that people want to believe as it has no factual basis whatsoever.

The rest of the official social housing statistics contain far worse ‘horrors’ than the mythical spectre of the immigrant and especially in the posit of  the death of the social housing model created in the 1948 Welfare State.

Table 3c below alone contains a huge number of issues:


Statutory Homeless lettings accounted for just 1 in 7 allocations of social housing – a much lower percentage and fact and counters those who say the needs-based allocation system means the homeless get all social housing – that myth is destroyed by the facts.

73% in receipt of Housing Benefit is a figure that has varied little in the past few decades and yet will create huge problems for social landlords with the overall benefit cap with the ubiquitous 3 bed social housing property being a financially toxic product.

Just 4% of new social housing properties were those who had downsized – and note this 4% could and will include formerly private renting tenants – so the bedroom tax rationale and incentive of downsizing is also proven to be a myth!

When you consider that in the ten years prior to the bedroom tax introduction the number of social tenants alone who downsized was just under 7% per year according to the authoritative English Housing Surveys we see in unambiguous factual terms that the bedroom tax frees up FEWER scarce social housing properties than it did before!!

Yet the real horrors are those highlighted in blue above and the percentage of new social housing properties that were let on the affordable (sic) rent model.

One very specific fact is that 72% of the GNAR (general needs affordable rent) lettings were to Housing Benefit recipients.  Oh dear!  This is where the proverbial really hits the fan in terms of the overall benefit cap and is an alarming figure with huge impact and consequence as Table 2D on average rents (below) reveals

Average Rents


In the region we see that the affordable (sic) rent model charges the tenant considerably more.

  • The 1 bed AR is 37.8% higher at £102 per week (£102 as to £74)
  • The 2 bed AR is 32% higher at £111 per week;
  • The 3 bed AR is 33% higher at £124 per week;:
  • The 4+ bed AR is a staggering 55% higher at £177 per week

As 72% of these affordable (sic) rent properties sees the tenant in receipt of Housing Benefit then the taxpayer is paying between 32% and 55% more in housing benefit!  Yet park this point of housing associations being decidedly asocial and chasing the money  and ripping off the taxpayer as some will undoubtedly argue they are.

In terms of the overall benefit cap (in the regions) of £384.62 per week it means that so many MORE households will be caught by the housing benefit cuts the OBC gives because the rents are between 32% and 55% higher.

The couple with 2 children will receive a maximum housing benefit of £117 per week with the reduced overall benefit cap.  So if that household lives in a 3 bed social housing property (ie children of different sexes and 1 of them older than 9) then the average social rent at £93 per week is not an issue.  Yet the average affordable (sic) rent on a 3 bed at £124 per week captures them.

If the couple with two child household is on ESA then then will receive just under £92 per week as the maximum housing benefit and thus have a £32 per week cut in weekly housing benefit which is £140.79 per month cut to their housing benefit.

In London the affordable (sic) rent uplift is huge:

  • 1 Bed AR increase is £63 per week and a 64.29% increase to 100% of tenants and for 72% of them to the taxpayer through the HB bill at an extra £3,285 per property per year!
  • 2 Bed AR increase is £80 per week and a 69.56% increase – an additional £4171 per year to the HB bill
  • 3 Bed AR increase is £80 per week and a 61.54% increase – same £4171 per year HB increase
  • 4 Bed AR increase is a £73 per week and a 47.1% increase

The London overall benefit cap level is £442.30 per week for families which mean a couple with 1 child can receive a maximum housing benefit of £184 per week or £155 per week if receiving ESA.  A 2 bed affordable (sic rent) property in the capital has an average rent of £195 per week so a cut of £11 – £40 per week for a household unit as small as a couple with 1 child!!

Single Persons and Affordable (sic) Rent

The rent figures in the Social housing lettings official data are averages for London and for the Regions.  Naturally that means in high rent areas in social housing will be more and in low rent areas it will be less.

Note well the highest social housing rent areas in the UK are NOT in London; rather they are in places such as Guildford and Elmbridge in Surrey and in parts of Hertfordshire.  The data and fact is revealed in the Statistical Data Return of the housing regulator and which was published last month.

The single persons overall benefit cap is £13,400 per year or £257.69 per week  in the regions which leaves a maximum housing benefit for the single person 35 and over to be £184 per week on JSA and £155 per week on ESA.

There are numerous example in Elmbridge and Guildford of the 1 bed affordable (sic) rent being £167 per week and so a single person in a 1 bed so-called affordable (sic) rent property will be hit with a cut to housing benefit!

In London the single persons cap is £296 per week giving the maximum housing benefit payable of £223 per week if on JSA and £194 per week if on ESA.

In EVERY inner London borough we find 1 bed affordable (sic) rent levels in excess of the £223 and so catches the single person aged 35 and over.  The highest 1 bed affordable (sic) rent level, excluding service charges, is £259.55 per week in Westminster.

So the single person 35 and over if on ESA will have a housing benefit cut of £65.35 per week which is £3,407.74 per year.

The 1 bed affordable (sic) rent property from a social (sic) landlord could see a £3.407 per year shortfall in housing benefit!

Note well too that the risible Chartered Institute of Housing estimate of 116,000 households hit by the reducing benefit cap level was only for households with 1 – 4 children.  It specifically excluded the families with 5 or more children of which there are currently 6900 AND it excluded all single persons from that 116,000 total.

The above shows that the single person in social housing can be hit by a cut of £3,400 per year and obviously many more will face higher cuts in the private rented system and across many areas of the UK and not just London and part of the South East.

Hence the 116,000 CIH estimate despite being 32% above the extremely incredulous DWP estimate of 88,000 is still a chronic underestimate as it excludes affordable rent, single persons and families with 5 or more children.

It also means it is not just the 3 bed social housing property at a social rent level that is a financially toxic product – the benefit tenant can’t afford and the landlord can’t afford the benefit tenant – it can be the single person in a 1 bed affordable rent property which becomes the benefit tenant no go zone!

According to the Social Lettings data there are now over 158,000 affordable (sic) rent properties in the UK and 72% of those see the tenant claiming housing benefit or 113,760 potential at risk of the overall benefit cap.

I would suggest from the complex modelling I have done on the OBC with HB and other datasets and using the average AR levels of rent stated above that there could be between 7,600 and 7,900 tenants in affordable (sic) rent properties that could be hit by the overall benefit cap.

That also needs to be added to the poor estimate of the CIH figures as to the numbers who will be capped and to put that into perspective London had 8400 affected households at the £26,000 per year cap level.

Hence this is a significant number of additional social tenant households who are likely to be affected.

One final issue on rent levels and I reproduce the average figures again below


The affordable (sic, sic, sic, sic!) rent levels charged by housing associations and how much they are above the council housing rent level is staggering.

Regions – Affordable (sic) Rent levels

  • 1 Bed 44% more
  • 2 bed 41% more
  • 3 bed 41% more
  • 4 bed 67% more

Overall average is 44.3% more charged by housing associations than council rent

London – Affordable (sic) Rent levels

  • I Bed is 73% more
  • 2 Bed is 81% more
  • 3 Bed is 69% more
  • 4 Bed is 62% more

Overall average is 80% more charged by housing associations than council rent

The affordable (sic) rent model is a cancer to the social housing model.  Housing Associations are no longer social landlords they are asocial money-grabbing private organisations – PRP in all of the above official data stands for PRIVATE Registered Provider.

Housing Associations can and do eulogise over how they have a social purpose and social ethos and they are socially responsible.  Some still are yet the majority are interested only in their bottom line as priority number 1, 2, 3 … 999.

Housing Associations will say they are being forced into the affordable rent model due to lack of what even they stupidly and errantly call subsidy, a point with ever reducing validity.  Their headlong rush into the AR model is now a huge financial problem as with it over 40% of their stock and nearing 50% as a national average is unaffordable for the benefit tenant.  Their stock is financially toxic as it means housing associations can no afford the benefit tenant who is their traditional an long-standing principle customer.

The OBC gives that level of toxicity and financial risk.  The direct payment element of Universal Credit adds to that risk.  The LHA maxima cap adds even more to that financial insecurity to sheltered housing in particular and lets not forget it is ONLY social housing that operates sheltered housing and it is a significant percentage of overall social housing stock.

All of these are policies that add to the financial security of social landlords and especially housing associations – and the usual response will be there is nothing we can do and its not our fault and other excuse.  The AR model was a choice and it is their fault for being so focused on seeking build build build and immediate financial gain that will quickly become a financial millstone around their necks.

Yet the OBC policy in particular means that the REAL KEY ISSUE is that housing associations will refuse to house the new and prospective benefit tenant.  380,00 or so social tenancies per year as the figures reveal yet over 40% of them are now unavailable to the benefit tenant … which also means that over 150,000 vulnerable households who are benefit households for whatever reason will be turned away each and every year by social landlords.

Where will they live? How many housing associations will go bust?

No doubt it can easily be blamed away on the ‘immigrant’ eh! Oh hang it can’t ….!

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