RIP Social Housing Monday 23 Jan 2017

From tomorrow, Monday, the 23 January 2017 social housing dies as every housing association and council landlord in the UK will say NO DSS and refuse to accommodate families and directly because of the overall benefit cap.

NO DSS allowed say SOCIAL landlords – yes I did say SOCIAL LANDLORDS!

NO DSS becomes the norm for the 385,000 new social housing tenancies that housing associations and councils allocate each year as the OBC is applied to the final seven local council areas of Birmingham, Brent, Ealing, Hackney, Hounslow, Leeds and Manchester which the government estimates are the seven worst affected areas in the UK.

No social landlord will give a tenancy to anyone who fully occupies a 3 bed property and on benefit because these prospective tenants cannot AFFORD the cheapest social rented properties.

3 bed and larger properties make up 36% of all social housing and extrapolated some 140,000 social housing properties that each year would have previously been affordable for the benefit household are no longer affordable.  That’s 140,000 in 2017, a further 140,000 in 2018, another 140,000 in 2019 and another 60,000 by May 2020 making  480,000 by the next planed general election.

Properties which could accommodate 1.5 million children who instead will not be accommodated by social landlords and who will no longer have a stable secure roof over their head and instead do not pass GO and go straight to (homeless queue) Jail in a perverse game of allocation Monopoly

The couple with three children will receive a maximum of £50 per week in housing benefit and just £21per week if on ESA outside London to pay for a 3 bed property which has an average rent level of £94 per week in official figures (for a council property, £104 per week for a HA property and £100 per week all social landlords – see updated Table 2C at end) .

Why this Tory government (and indeed every other political party who also support the OBC policy) think that a housing association or council landlord will accommodate the ‘benefit household’ beggars belief! That is the inevitable impact of the policy that any rational impact assessment would have considered yet the Tories purported impact assessment released in late September 2016 does not mention the impact on new or prospective tenants at all and instead only focuses on existing tenants!

Social landlords, whether housing associations or council landlords cannot afford to accommodate the benefit tenant any longer.  They will refuse to accommodate them and in the huge numbers I project and say why here.  They have no choice but to refuse to house them.

Ahead of next Monday when the reduced OBC applies we are told that LB Hackney already spends £35 million per year on homeless accommodation – or £4,000 per hour every hour of every day and 365 days per year.  That £35 million per year current figure is going to rocket when housing benefit reduces by £3000 per year and even when Hackney go down the social dumping homeless diaspora path and seek to place their homeless families in cheaper areas.

The costs of temporary homeless accommodation will rocket in every town and city across the UK due to the OBC being up to a £6000 per year cut in the regions.

This cut in housing benefit will be a huge increase and one that no local council will be able to mitigate by way of a discretionary housing payment (DHP) as this illustration for Liverpool shows the amount of HB cut in both pre and post OBC.

liverp-obc-sep-and-nov-2016

Liverpool receives £2 million per year in DHP to pay for this pre OBC £7 million per year of HB cut that will now have to stretch to deal with a £14 million per year cut from just these two policies.

The same will go for every council across the country who will want to pay a DHP to prevent a much greater cost of paying for temporary homeless provision in private sector B&Bs.  Yet Liverpool is seeing a 2100% increase in HB cut with the overall benefit cap and is by no means the worst hit as some councils will see over 3500% increases – or 35 times what that cut was before the OBC!

While council landlords can refuse to accommodate the benefit tenant and make no mistake they will, councils cannot avoid their homeless duties in law to accommodate them.  This huge additional cost is a massive transfer of cost from the housing benefit budget at central government to each and every local councils own budgets.

The overall benefit cap affects everyone including home owners and those in work who do not get any benefit as council tax will have to increase and your council will have to provide fewer and fewer services.

Libraries will close right across the country.  Bin collections will become fortnightly or even monthly and no longer weekly and to go back to the 500,000 or so children refused social housing each year the costs on local education budgets will be huge as children are moved from pillar to post and that includes their schooling.

More and more children will be placed into care and give local councils higher costs still and remember that the 2% precept that your local council is allowed to add to council tax to pay for care only applies for ADULT care and not for the care needs and costs of children.

I have been writing ad infinitum on this subject and to little avail.  The apathy of the general public to the impact of the overall benefit cap is staggering and probably due to there being no political party who dare come out against its theory in case they are accused and labelled as being in favour of welfare.  The policy is coalition policy so both the Tories and Lib Dems created it and the Labour Party to their shame also had the reduced overall benefit cap in their 2015 general election manifesto – a policy that has still not changed under Corbyn.

The provision of safe and secure and affordable housing is one of the 5 pillars of the 1948 Welfare State yet this is being demolished with the OBC and tomorrow is the day that one-fifth of the Welfare State dies …with no outcry or fanfare and mostly no awareness.

Social landlords who are dominated by housing associations only concern themselves with their own particular housing crisis – that of under supply and egged on by the highly London-centric media and commentariat where housing shortages are most acute.  They say nothing about the affordability crisis that the overall benefit cap obviates and which affects 100% of the UK rather than the 13% of UK housing that is London.

All of these reasons perhaps explain why the overall benefit cap impacts have been missed yet they can never excuse the fact that this policy should ever have happened as if it was impact-assessed then the policy would never have left the table of the ideological policy wonk who first wrote it on the back of a fag packet.

Tomorrow the social housing model which is an essential element of any democracy to ensure those most vulnerable are given a secure roof over their heads dies.

If you have 1% humanity in your body you will shudder at the consequences of this policy and the impacts I have barely touched on above.

________________________

How much will you get in housing benefit under reduced OBC?

obc-november-2016

UPDATEs

John Moss a Tory councillor on Twitter says my figures are wrong and cites the DWP’s own benefit calculator as his source to say a couple with 3 children on ESA will only lose £3 per week.

john-moss-errata

And here is the actual figure when you enter the data correctly

john-moss-corrected-obc

As you can see the HB cut is not £3 per week but £129.37 per week and leaves a housing benefit maximum amount of £21.63 …. which is exactly the figure in my table above for 2 Parent 3 Child (ESA wrag)!

That 2 parent 3 child household qualify for a 3 bed property in terms of housing need and will only receive £21.63 per week in housing benefit.  Tory Councillor John Moss cites the private rent figure for Manchester at £151 yet the social rent figure for a 3 bed outside of London average £100 per week (and it higher in Manchester than this) so £21.63 HB to put towards a social housing 3 bed at social rent level of £100 per week is a £78.37 per week cut in housing benefit.

The official 2015/16 social housing rent levels were released by DCLG in November 2016 (see below) and here is Table 2C of those figures

average-rent-srs-201516a

That table comes from this:

social-lettings-dclg-nov-2016

 

What THE real issue is?

As Table 2c from the official social housing rents level shows a 3 bed property outside of London has a typical rent level of £100 per week.

My table “Overall Benefit Cap – From November 2016” reveals the maximum levels of housing benefit each household type can receive.

The couple with two children on ESA (wrag) that cannot be described as a large family will get just £78.83 per week in housing benefit and have a shortfall in rent of £21.17 per week – which is also higher than the average bedroom tax shortfall of £15.21 per week that sees SOCIAL landlords refuse to accommodate such families.  All such households will be REFUSED social housing

The couple with 3 children will get just £50.68 per week and thus have a £49.32 per week shortfall which is three times the average bedroom tax cut and they will be REFUSED social housing.

In short all social landlords whether they are council, ALMO or Housing Association will not be able to AFFORD to accommodate these households due to the risk of arrears and eviction and all the costs that go with that which are typically £3000 plus the level of arrears in the regions.

All such households on benefit become a massive financial risk too far for all social landlords – the same social landlords who let 385,000 new social tenancies each and every year on average as Table 1c from the same DCLG lettings data reveals and I highlight below.

srs-lettigs-per-year

How many of these new lettings each and every year will now NOT go to ‘benefit households’ because of the overall benefit cap I have projected and with a little discussion to support such as 36% of all social housing is the 3 bed and larger property.

Whatever the number is of these prospective tenants each year who before the benefit cap level was savagely cut would have been allocated a social housing property yet now will not is and has to be speculative in part.  YET what is not speculative is that all such families refused social housing can ONLY go directly to their local councils homeless department to be re-housed in temporary homeless accommodation.  There is NO other choice – and that choice is a phenomenally expensive one to all local councils and of course it does irreparably damage the life chances of the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of children this involves.

The overall benefit cap is morally outrageous and economic madness and the facts and figures reveal its INEVITABLE impacts in a very stark way – the same very stark and inevitable way that the Tories chose not to see when they designed the policy.

Update

18.45pm Sunday 22 January 2017 – Social Housing RIP – 4 hours 15 minutes

103,000 views in 6.5 hours

John Moss Tory Councillor to being corrected that the cut is £127 per week not the £3 per week he claimed:

jmoss-comfy

And then a tenant to me on Facebook whom I have anonymised:

messenger-re-obc

Humanity lives … and yes I did say 103,000 views which gives hope we don’t live in a post-truth society and that facts, even as pesky as these, do win out!

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29 thoughts on “RIP Social Housing Monday 23 Jan 2017

  1. its a tax on the poorest people …usually women who obviously look after the children and need a home.. policy BELONGING to the Victorian era WHEN YOU HAVE A POLICY THAT DOES NOT PROTECT CHILDREN and FAMILIES IT IS NONSENSE.When the budget for bombing other countries is as high as it has ever been it is nonsense to talk of austerity.Governments should hang their heads …creating migration on such a huge scale ….causing poverty by policies is not great.

  2. For decades we have had Governments, of all parties, pursing policies which encouraged private rentals and the buy-to-let property sector. People have been encouraged to regard housing as an investment rather than a place to live. Rising house prices have been regarded as a good thing as people see the apparent value of their “investment” increase, even though the only way you can benefit from that increase is if you can sell your property without the need to buy another.

    Through all this period there were warnings, from those who could see the consequence of theses policies, that the people on the lowest incomes would be priced out of housing altogether. The rejoinder from those in power was always the same: Those on low incomes would not be affected as they could claim housing benefits. Then the tories came to power and took fright at the housing benefit budget. Instead of addressing the source of the problem they targeted those most adversely affected by it.

    As a result, we now have the world’s most expensive housing apart from Monaco and those warnings are being realised. Is there a political party willing to stand up and advocate policies that reduce property prices and rents? I have my doubts.

  3. The one thing I’ve wondered is will this change when they limit the Child Benefit, Tax Credit, or Universal Credit is reduced to two children only? In my area the benefit cap tends to kick in around three kids and rents are relatively low (with the exception of the ‘affordable’ ones which have are much higher and are going to create real issues under LHA). It’s hard to see who will be housed – no one 18 to 21 even if they have a good job ‘it will be a risk’, no single claimants under 35 due to LHA. It’s a depressing litany of one crisis after the other.

  4. well i’ve been in my property social housing for 20 years and if my rent was going to be capped by housing benefit office i would have been informed by now. by my landlord and by city council. but i can’t believe this is happening, its the first time i’ve heard anything. my rent has never been capped and i’ve never had to pay any more. its around £88 pw now.

  5. In 2000, I, along with many others, fought the then government against the great social housing sell off (Privatization / ALMO). Many predictions have since come to pass true. This is one, with far reaching effects that is ignored by Joe public. All those adverse predictions have not yet been fulfilled, but many have, others are under threat. The devious state avalanche crushing the poor can only happen in the same selfish society that brought the Nazi’s to power as people segregate, just how far from that same scenario are we now, as the ‘comfortable’ become isolationist to protect their greed & label the poor as scum. In 2000, the same could be said of many social housing tenants protecting their own position, as they were fed the same lies the Tories now feed, and opted for privatization, people, don’t understand, people forget, the cycle repeats. It’s in the human psych. However, repetition requires interval, we have had none, the stench lingers, now the populace is waking to the daily diet of state lies with distaste and deciding politics does have to change, I just hope the final prophecy does not ring true.

  6. I work in a homeless hostel. Where I work the town is vwry poor. Some of the charities for homeless people have had to close down. We have an emergency hostel where I worked for a year and now im at our progressive hostel. Its progressive in that it gets people back on track and stable. They get there own tenancy somewhere that suits their needs. But now? I am very worried. I am scared for them.

  7. I may sound like a broken record here, but social landlords are NOT saying no DSS and are not refusing to house tenants affected by welfare reform. Although the reduced benefit cap is an indefensible and awful policy, landlords do have a few options – asking the council for a rent top-up (DHP or otherwise), or supporting the tenant to find enough work to be exempt. Most of the landlords I’ve talked to (many of which are the big commercial “evil” ones you often bash in your blog) will be using these options rather than seriously considering turning away affected tenants.

    1. Just 13.6% of current capped households receive JSA and thus ready and able to take up employment (see Table 6 of DWP figures). As explained in post using Liverpool they move from a £2m DHP pot for a £7m HB cut in bedroom tax and benefit cap to a £14m HB cut yet still have same £2m. Liverpool like all LA’s do not have a magic money tree to pay for the huge increase in demand this causes – and the demand in many parts of the regions increases by 20-fold while just 3-fold in the capital too.
      Taking the position of Joe criticises HA’s therefore everything he says must be wrong only reveals the ignorance of any ‘policy analyst’

  8. The manager of housing benefits in my city has explained that the vast majority of households affected by the benefit cap are not and will not be in a position to move into work any time soon, for valid reasons including chronic sickness, heavy childcare commitments or other family issues. The individual above who states that “welfare” should not give a comfortable life repeats the common mistake of equating receiving one’s income from benefits with doing nothing or being “too lazy” to find a job. Bringing up children, for example, is the hardest job going, and receiving an adequate income and decent conditions in which to do it is a necessity and a basic issue of workers’ rights. Most people on benefits longer-term are not “unemployed” – they do not have an earned income (wage or salary). However, they do pay taxes – quite a large proportion of their income in purchase taxes and now in Council Tax too.

    I think in this post Joe hits on the crux of the matter as regards the political agenda: over the last few years Local Authorities have been subjected to such severe cuts in their allocated budgets from central government (in my area now down to 40% of what it was in 2010) that they are barely able to cover social care and children services budgets, so that other more visible expenditure (eg refuse, lighting etc) is bound to suffer. (Consequently, Local Authorities get the blame for rising Council Taxes and reductions in services). The aim is ultimately to leave all local authorities responsible for raising their own incomes, ie no centrally-allocated budget – which in effect is a major regressive reconfiguration of the taxation system (that is, a major redistribution of resources towards the more affluent) – and forces LAs back on more outsourcing, “attracting” corporate investment, and all the waste of public money and the undermining of labour conditions which goes with this. The various housing benefit cuts we have seen constitute a major additional cut to local authorities’ budgets and shift of responsibility away from central govt and onto the local authority; and it’s a cut which is harder for the non-affected resident to observe as it is not part of the annual figure for the government grant to the local authority – so the resulting chaos of homelessness and associated social problems becomes the fault of the LA. (None of this is to say the LAs are blameless, of course, and more than anything they should have been standing up and shouting about these policies far more vocally).

    The benefit cap is a particularly glaring example of this process, which simultaneously acts as a propaganda seducing people to believe in the tale about feckless claimants sponging off the “hard-working taxpayer”: if there is a benefit cap (or sanctions, or compulsory Work Programmes and workfare, or a harsh WCA for ESA claimants) – so the logic goes – then it must and can only be because there are millions of people out there who are in need of being “disciplined” by having their means of subsistence removed. And it makes it particularly difficult for any electoral party to make itself popular on a platform of reversing benefit cuts or indeed introducing a benefits system which provides acceptable levels of support (and a secure source of income where necessary for the housing provider). Obviously that is not an excuse for electoral parties (ie the Labour Party and its supporters) to shirk the issue – it needs to be placed at the center, and it needs to be emphasised that this is a wider issue than just the politically “easy” topic of a “housing crisis”.

    1. As I have mentioned many time before the presumption that those capped CAN work is hugely false. The DWP latest figures (Table 6) show that less than 14% claim JSA and therefore fit and ready for work with over 15% being in receipt of ESA (formerly incapacity benefit) and who are able to work in up to two years time IF they receive support …and during which tie the benefit cap’s swingeing cuts apply.

      The vast majority are single parents with preschool age children who would need to arrange child care in order to take up employment (and for which only part of this is paid) and who are ‘not expected’ to work yet are forced to because of the benefit cap now hitting them else they will lose the roof over their heads

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