Tories RTB policy for HAs is a Godsend for social housing? Yes you lucky lucky people!

I am delighted that social housing featured so prominently in the #BBCDebate last night.  Even more delighted that there was universal acceptance that we do have a housing crisis and universal condemnation of the absent Tory plan to extend right to buy (votes!?)

I’ll take luck over design any day of the week and let’s not kid ourselves the fact housing was debated was anything at all to do with the Homes for Britain campaign.  The only reason housing was debated was because the Tories have proposed the exact opposite of what Homes for Britain is about – the further depletion of social housing.

That is not sour grapes in any way as I am delighted that the fifth pillar of the welfare state we all rightly venerate has at last seen some national exposure and discussion as to its dangerous demise.  Social housing professionals are rightly delighted and euphoric over the coverage as social media is ablaze BUT, and it is a huge BUT, the door has been opened a fraction of an inch and we need to kick it off its bloody hinges.

After the HfB rally the fire in the belly of housing people was palpable and hyperbolic only for it to be deluged with water within 24 hours as Osborne’s budget had no mention of housing which led to anger and puzzlement from the sector, or ‘housing people’ as David Orr aptly called it as there is no unified sector at all.  Telling that David Orr used the phrase ‘housing people’ and not sector in his article in Inside Housing on the day of the HfB rally.

Yet as I said at the time David Orr was incredibly brave to admit that ‘housing people’ have been at fault for social housings demise by being mute for decades – that is what ‘ housing has found its voice’ necessarily means although far too many housing people are loathe to admit any culpability for being mute in any shape or form, and far too many still believe that an unified sector exists. It doesn’t.

nhfnofuss

David Orr is regarded and regularly voted as the most influential figure in social housing, and deservedly so yet many believe I am critical of him which is untrue. I have been and still am strongly critical of the HfB approach which needs a hundred times the priority of social housing rather than we simply need more quantity of housing and hundred times more a focus on the public than it has.  Yet HfB has had an extremely lucky break with the paper thin veneer of the extension of RTB to HA Tory policy revealing it is vote buying and no more and it is that issue which has put housing on the public agenda not the HfB campaign.

I’ll take that luck over design any day of the week….as long as housing capitalises on that luck which it now needs to do!

The revived fire in the belly and euphoria of ‘housing people’  THIS TIME can not be allowed to fade and this massive and lucky opportunity cannot be missed.  What the #BBCDebate showed was that the PUBLIC was against the attack on social housing and that means any housing campaign needs to direct its focus there.

Persuade the public that social housing is NOT the housing of last choice, is not replete with White Dee and other Benefit Street caricatures and the job of persuading the government of the day is a thousand times easier.  Yet fail to even attempt to target public opinion and Joe Public will baulk at any government spending more of their taxes subsidising the proverbial White Dees.

The general public is also hugely enamoured with Bennett, Sturgeon and Wood (not necessarily in that order) who all strongly asserted the notion and important role of social housing in the debate; and ‘housing people’ cannot let that opening die a death either as these ‘new’ assertive and electorally appealing women have captured the political zeitgeist and their messages on social housing are the messages that social housing wants and needs the public to hear.

The right to buy extension has also been lucky for social housing too.  It has galvanised opposition from right across the potential sector (remembering that HAs make up just 53% of social landlords) that has in part quelled the growing schism within it over privateers and traditionalists – we have the proverbial common enemy  and with that finally takes away the waning notion of ‘housing people’ that the Conservatives have not been intentionally attacking the social housing model these past 5 years.

There can be no doubt that the Tories are the enemy of social housing any more and they have an ideological hatred of it as the social housing model at less than £6 per property per week ‘subsidy’ exposes the vaunted market that gets no capital subsidy and charges £85 per week more for a less product and service.  Private rented housing is capitalisms market failure and the extremely cost-effective invest to save model that is social housing is significantly highlighted by comparison.

Two weeks before the HfB rally I spoke at the Left Unity housing conference with Ken Loach who went down incredibly well at HfB from all accounts, and unsurprisingly so.  I would urge ‘housing people’ to look at Left Unity’s housing policy which is here and you will find that this reflects mainstream social housing policy of ‘housing people’ or the sector.

How perverse is that?  Perverse in the sense that Left Unity is perhaps the most left-wing political party in the UK yet its housing policy mirrors what we ‘housing people’ call sensible and know to be right!  In other words the mainstream political parties have moved so far to the right of what is sensible social housing policy that it sinks in just how apathetic all mainstream political parties are towards the social housing model which underpins all forms of social housing and is still, by a along way, the most economic way of delivering genuinely affordable housing.

That neatly reveals just how quiet and mute ‘housing people’ have been and the scale of the job ahead.  Yes you better put another espresso in the skinny latter this morning housing peeps!

What #HomesforBritain should be saying but isn’t!

Why has nobody pointed out – to the clearly sympathetic general public – in this austerity age just how much Thatcher’s RTB added to the welfare bill with the policy of letting housing benefit takes the strain? Yes that well known housing jargon that the general public knows bugger all about!

Under Thatcher the Housing Benefit bill increased 642% in 11 years and directly related to RTB and to her denial of social housebuilding in that era as the graph below reveals.  There is a direct correlation between RTB and hugely increased welfare benefit spend.

It also says that by comparison when the Blair & Brown governments cut the RTB discounts that the HB bill only rose by 78% in 13 years.  Again the correlation is there but in reverse as reduced RTB means reduced HB bill for the taxpayer.  This is the same Brown / Blair governments that this coalitions constantly say doubled the HB bill so it is clear the Tories are fine with the concept of putting the rising HB bill on the public agenda!!

Look again at the graph below and you can rightly extrapolate that the Major government increased the HB bill (still with the RTB high discounts) and in 6 years that HB bill increased from £5.095 billion to £11.38 billion – Yes it MORE THAN DOUBLED.

So have RTB with large discounts and the taxpayer cost increases massively.  Take away the RTB large discounts as the Blair / Brown governments did and the taxpayer cost is so much less.

HB bill blair v thatch

Yet, and here is the rub, the HomesforBritain campaign and the collective furore of the housing sector after the RTB extension to HA policy was announced concentrated on the cost to…..social landlords!!!

Concentrate on the cost to the taxpayer and the general public will ensure that this Tory vote buying rabbit out of the hat policy will fail.  To win the argument and get rid of the policy convince the public who especially right now have all political parties by the short and curlies!! The general public will do your bidding for you housing people.

In doing so and making the social housing cause a general public cause over this RTB to HA folly, the general public will become more interested in the wider housing crisis.  The general public WILL be amenable to the arguments that the social housing model SAVES the taxpayer money which it clearly does as the ‘subsidy’ is in reality an invest to save model of £1.125 billion per year that produces savings of close to £5 billion per year due to lower rents it enables.

The Tory RTB to HA pig’s earhole is not just lucky for HfB, it has done the far wider social housing model cause a huge favour in making the general public open to the many arguments that social housing is an ECONOMIC good for the country and the individual taxpayer.

In fact lucky isn’t the word, this is a Godsend as 30 years of the public believing that social housing is a taxpayer cost and the housing of last choice that has been enabled by the silence of ‘housing people’, now presents a gift horse to the ‘sector’ and all through a huge political cock up by the Tories!

Strike while the iron is hot and that iron can become a red hot poker to ALL political parties and ensure social housing is ALWAYS on the political agenda as it deserves to be.

me and tommy trinder

TTFN housing people! I’m off for the weekend with me old china Tommy!

Housing for dummies (after the election whoever takes office)

Reader – I am going to use the simplest words here to tell you that regardless of who the next government is if you are a tenant or a social or private landlord you are fucked.  This is (rented) housing for dummies and I repeat this will happen if Labour win a majority or lead a coalition or if the Tories remain in office with a majority or lead a coalition.

In again simple words it does not matter a jot who wins the election and so do please get out of the current mindset that everything is a political statement and every view, opinion or even fact has a political element.  This is as apolitical as it gets as both Labour and Conservatives just do not have a clue what they are doing as their manifestos confirm.

Both are committed to the overall benefit cap policy and that is why all tenants and all landlords are fucked.

[As the purpose of language is to be not misunderstood rather than to be understood my use of the word ‘fucked’ leaves you reader in no doubt as to what I mean, that is NOT MISUNDERSTOOD.  I therefore make no apologies whatsoever for using a word that pre-dates Chaucer]

53 per cent of social landlords have their knickers in a twist given the Tory proposal to extend RTB to the 53% of all social landlords who are housing associations.  Go commando for the next 10 minutes or so and read and digest this as this affects you and the 47% of other social landlords such as councils and ALMOs and it affects all social landlords irrespective of whether the Tory RTB extension ever comes to pass and if it ever gets in or out of court and whether or not it is just a gimmick to win votes (which in my view it is.)  That also means stop point scoring within the fragmented housing association sector whether you are in the privateer or traditionalist schisms within the HA world.

Got your attention?  Good, so lets begin….

Social tenants and social landlords are in broad agreement that the average bedroom tax that is currently £14.98 per household is a significant financial risk and is unaffordable.  That applies to households which UNDER occupy at present and will remain after the election if the Tories remain in power.  It will be abolished if labour form the next government.

Yet both will keep the benefit cap and here is what this will mean in 5 years time and just ahead of the next election.

1. If you are not in employment (unemployed, sick or disabled on ESA) then no private landlord will accommodate you at all.  Your only rented housing option is social housing.

2. YET if you are a one parent three child household you will have to pay £26 per week towards your rent in social housing if you live in London and £38 per week to top up your rent if you live outside of London in the Tory version of the overall benefit cap.  The tenant and the social landlord are fucked.

3. IF you are a 2 parent 3 child household then you will have to find £73 per week to top up your social housing rent in London and £83 per week if you live in social housing outside of London.  Well and truly fucked under the Tory OBC policy and fucked means the tenant cannot afford the cheapest rents and social landlords cannot afford the benefit tenant.

Under the Labour version of the OBC policy the 2 parent 3 child household will have to top up the London social rent with £12 per week and outside of London the social rent top up is £29 per week.  So this is slightly better but the social tenant paying a social rent will have to find almost double the current £14.98 pw bedroom tax which all things being equal will be circa £16.20 per week by 2020.

4. The one parent 4 child household will in London need to find £99 per week to top up the rent and everywhere outside of London will need to find £110 per week!  Under the Labour version this is £39 per week in London and £56 per week outside of London, that is Land’s End to John O’Groats with everywhere in between.

Larger households such as 2 person 4 children the weekly rent top up figures are £84 London, £101 elsewhere under the Labour Party version and £144 London and no HB whatsoever elsewhere.  The 1 parent 5 child and all other larger households will not get a penny in housing benefit.

As the current £14.98 average bedroom tax is unaffordable then the £26 pw – £38 per week cut and social tenant weekly rent top up for the 1 parent 3 child family is clearly unaffordable to the social tenant and the social landlord.  Note well this is for social rent and not for the misnamed affordable (sic) rent or AR model which on average would means a further £38 per week on top of these figures.  AR is as dead as a dodo as a policy for all social landlords  – the only thing the social tenant can thank the overall benefit cap for!

The benefit cap applies to tenants in receipt of IS, JSA and ESA (working group) and that is a huge proportion of HB claimants.  In fact the latest HB statistics reveal that 2,080,985 households were passported onto housing benefit because of receipt of IS, JSA and ESA. If 50% of those on ESA are in the working group this gives about 1.6 million working age households at risk of the overall benefit cap with the unaffordable weekly rent top ups it has as stated above.
When we look at this from the social landlords perspective the overall benefit cap will hit the 1 parent 3 child household and larger, or those that occupy and FULLY occupy the 3 bed or larger social housing property, and the English Housing Survey tells us that 35.02% of all social housing properties are 3 bed or larger.

35% of all social landlords tenanted properties are at risk if those tenants are in receipt of IS, JSA or ESA (working group) and that is an end of social housing financial risk that is far higher than the nonsensical and political gimmick of extending right to buy to housing associations.

Now that is the average figure, this 35%.  I did a quick look up on the Statistical Data Return published by the housing regulator last September at two specific housing associations.  One of them had 43% of its stock as having 3 beds or larger and the other had 63% so those two HAs have a 23% and 80% higher than average risk, or to continue my vernacular, extremely well fucked.

Of course should the Labour Party take office then all social landlords can :

  • Allocate 4 bed properties to single men and to all single women and to couple without children or with 1 child
  • Having 2 children as a social tenant is too big a financial risk as it is one pregnancy away (planned or unplanned) from being too high a financial risk

…as the bedroom tax is of no consequence.  YET the benefit cap is a consequence as explained above and the larger sized households become too big a financial risk.  Just where the hell these families can live is another question, yet as social landlords and private landlords definitively, will not house …. (OH FUCK!)

Yet if the Tories remain in office then all social landlords will:

  • Allocate only to working families and not to those on IS/JSA or ESA
  • Or to households where the female lone or couple partner has had a vasectomy and written proof of the same and agrees to put all her daughters on the pill as soon as they reach puberty! (Probably not an unfair contract term either if the Tories do get back in!!)

If you are of a given disposition it is perfectly ok to say FUCK FUCK FUCK under your breath as this IS what the overall benefit cap of the Tories and of the Labour Party means.  While I may well believe that this reveals both are truly fucking incompetent an this is not deliberate intent they are truly fucking incompetent and social landlords will be even more fucking incompetent if, as is their want, they carry on whingeing about RTB and fail to see the overall benefit cap is going to fuck them over anyway.

Social landlords need to challenge the overall benefit cap policy and win that fight.  If they don’t challenge and don’t win they are fucked as is the social housing model itself one of the 5 pillars of the welfare state.  The benefit cap means if you are not working (to include being sick and some disabled) then you WILL be evicted and made homeless.  It means if you lose a job given the average length of unemployment is (apparently) 13 weeks then you too will be evicted and lose job lose home.

The financial model which underpins all social landlords is fucked.

Social landlords lifeblood is housing benefit and necessarily so because it is only social housing that does accommodate the SODS (Sick, Old, Disabled, Supported) when (a) the private rented sector does not and (b) the SODS all require housing benefit.

Yet the overall benefit cap policy of BOTH the two parties who can only form the next government mean that for financial survival that social housing has to abandon the SODS that is has always accommodated as that is what social housing does!!

Hope you enjoyed going commando reader and while I do not apologise for the profane language above at least this will be the last time you read it as this is my last post.

Everyone now blogs and despite millions of views which pandered my ego, it takes far too much of my time and I need to concentrate on work and bringing in the income I have foregone in doing so these past three years.

Its been fun but ultimately purposeless and my heart goes out to the social tenant which in the next parliament will become synonymous with poverty, and if the Tories stay in office, synonymous with scrounging bastard.  

Is it me or can you reader also vividly hear the bugle playing the last post right now for the social tenant?

 

Housing Think is an oxymoron – Housing Action an even bigger one!

Dear Housing People,

99.99% of you I have met or spoke with in the last 20+ years are rightly passionate about the social housing model.

Yesterday was and has to be a catalyst for the death of social housing inaction.  When,perhaps over the weekend, you begin to reflect over the RTB extension to HA properties you will likely come to the following conclusions.

  • The Tory proposal is legally fraught and back of a fag packet political speak all too typical of this coalition
  • It is largely a desperate attempt to buy votes as Thatcher did with RTB in 1979, 1983 and 1987 elections

Yet you may also be thinking that perhaps I better look again at my CV and beef up the transferable skills I have!

What I suggest you should be reflecting on is  this:

Given your passion for the social housing model why do you / we tolerate and even venerate the spineless and incompetent housing leaders whose inactions over decades has placed the loved and extremely cost-effective social housing model in the toilet?

David Orr said in a news release on the day of the Homes for Britain (HfB) rally that “housing has found its voice” which is a correct and bold admission that the housing sector has been silent and wrong to be silent for decades.

The passion for social housing of the 99.99% of housing professionals came to the fore with all the fire in the belly hyperbole raised at the HfB rally yet less than 24 hours later Osborne confirmed in his budget that social housing is extremely irrelevant as a national issue and the RTB extension to HAs of yesterdays Tory manifesto doubly confirmed that the social housing model plays no part in Tory think.

To add to that the Labour Party in response said they are all for ‘aspiration’ (Labour code for RTB) and support RTB in principle and in policy terms. In short there is no political support for the social housing model in the mainstream parties, one of whom will form the next government and dictate housing policy until 2020.

So we have NO political support for the social housing model, and we have the general public believe it to be the housing of last resort and replete with White Dee’s and Benefit Street et al is fact.  To cap it all the public believes they the taxpayer subsidise social housing allowing the Jeremy Kyle watchers behind closed curtains of these shirkers while they get off their arse to work and pay for them to watch.

We know the general public perception above is a chronic distortion, yet it IS their perception and that is what counts.  It is a critical part of any job to sell the job you do, whether you are an undertaker to a stockbroker to a plumber, YOU sell the job that you do and the good it does and the benefits it brings.  This happens in every sector and every industry except social housing and the fact it doesn’t and hasn’t for decades is why its reputation is in the toilet.

A critical issue is as the electorate perceive social housing to be subsidised largesse then there is no chance any government of any political persuasion putting more investment into social housing. I’m not voting for that lot as they want to give away more of my hard earned taxes so those scrounging bastards can get an even bigger flat screen TV to watch Jeremy Kyle!

That brings me to my main point and no excuses for the language but housing colleague, What the fuck has the NHF and CIH et al been doing all these years?  I will put that another way, How has the motivated passionate and efficient housing professional allowed its leaders to get away with such negligent inaction?

National housing leaders need the proverbial rocket up their backsides and have done for decades.  Individual Chief Executives of social landlords also rightly deserve criticism as it is one thing doing a good job locally which the vast majority do, yet another thing altogether in ignoring the proactive promotion of the social housing model that underpins all forms of social landlords and in every part of the UK is negligent.

The individual and often great job that social landlords do at a local level helps explain the perplexity of the passionate and motivated housing professional yesterday as evidenced by the social media outcry.  How the hell could this even be suggested sums up the perpexity and anger that littered Twitter (and Facebook by tenants) yesterday.

How the hell this was allowed to happen is all down to the inaction of social housing leaders who have not found their voice for three decades and when on the odd occasion they have nobody listens because politicians are apathetic to the social housing model and the populace only see it as their taxes paying for scroungers watching Jeremy Kyle.

The time has long past when action is needed, real forceful action by ‘housing people’ to persuade government and the general public of the huge benefits that social housing brings such as starting with facts that it actually SAVES the taxpayer money and so many more.  Sod talk and misplaced hyperbole such as HfB, get off your arses and do something is what is needed and needed urgently and desperately.

However, late last night it emerged that housing people must cast serious doubt on the ability of David Orr, the number one ranked most important housing person, and the NHF he leads as being competent or even willing to do that.  Generation Rent one of the founding members of HfB withdrew from it and why they did so is contained in a damning indictment of David Orr and HfB however tactfully it was written.

Read the extract below and it says that the NHF led Homes for Britain campaign is allowing itself to have its balls squeezed by the private sector RLA.

We have spent the best part of a year trying quietly to move HfB on these matters with a modest goal of getting it to a status of minimum viable campaign. But with the Conservative proposal on extending right to buy to housing associations, and now Labour’s silence on whether they would support or oppose this proposal, we think our concerns have been proven correct. Homes for Britain, with a £750,000 budget, has through its funding outvoiced all but the most exceptional housing campaigns and yet has not even attempted to box in politicians into positive policy positions.

No significant advance in housing policy has been achieved from any party in a year and, in fact, retrograde policies are now a reality.

We believe this is because HfB has taken a lowest-common-denominator approach when that denominator is the Residential Landlords Association. And of course, right to buy in the HA sector will principally benefit private sector landlords.

We’re not asking you to leave Homes for Britain. But apart from the RLA, we believe its scope is less ambitious than the aims of almost every other member of that coalition. So we are asking you to consider how to support effective campaigning in the light of that lowest common denominator.

This is a scathing attack on David Orr personally, on the National Housing Federation and on all the other social housing members of the Homes for Britain campaign.  It outlines chronic inactions even when the sector finds it voice and does not know what the hell to do with its voice in terms of campaigning and all it seeks to do is try to compromise all views all the time and as a result does bugger all of worth.

Housing professionals recognise the concept of meetings for meetings sake and the concept of all fur coat and no knickers which is how Generation Rent describe the Homes for Britain campaign.  It tries to be all things to all men (and women) and in doing so hasn’t achieve anything and has no prospect of every achieving anything.

The social housing sector needs an organisation to promote and lobby for the social housing model.  A new body is needed and one that as Tony Stacey head of Placeshapers said yesterday is willing to take the gloves off  approach and in simple terms kick some ass.  Generation Rent should not and cannot lead such a body as its main focus is on high private rents and especially because the notoriously conservative social housing organisations will see it as an outsider.

The social housing model that we as housing professionals are so passionate about needs the likes of SHOUT but with 100 times its voice and 100 ties its funding to promote and lobby the social housing model to the public and to government, and critically in that order of priority!  Governments whether Tory or Labour have the ineffectual and incompetent NHF and CIH in their pocket and these alleged national representative organisations of social housing have no credibility or influence.  Their past and present inept performance is precisely why.

I have repeatedly criticised Homes for Britain, Housing Day and SHOUT because they wont work and I have received plenty of criticism from housing colleagues for that, I am constantly negative and why is that Joe?  The reason is they are all nowhere near enough to do what is needed despite their aims being right.  After yesterday, Housing Day and Homes for Britain are as dead as a dodo and they will quietly disappear into the ether.  SHOUT may survive and of the three campaigns to date it is the one that deserves to survive and attract support.

However, I strongly suspect that a new organisation will emerge, probably out of all the HAs getting together to take the legal fight over RTB, and dedicated to the promotion of the social housing model (for HAs!)  That is also not enough as HAs have differing needs to other social landlords and HAs make up just 53% of social landlords.

The sector needs to be bold and radical.  The gloves need to be off and the sector, the 100% of all social landlords for whom the social housing model underpins and not its fragmented parts, needs to seriously kick some ass.  I would be more than willing to support such a body if only it existed, which if it is not created quickly will see me and all of my housing colleagues more than taking a quick look at our CVs as the social housing model’s demise becomes one of the major regrets we all speak out in the nursing home.
___________________________________________________

PS – Demise of social housing as hyperbole? No – see my post yesterday that regardless of who wins the election they both will implement the overall benefit cap which will kill the social housing model by the end of the next parliament

Labour manifesto is the end of social housing and the incompetent ‘sector’ doesn’t even realise

Today, Monday 13 April 2015, the Labour Party manifesto confirms the end of social housing.  Yes I did say the Labour manifesto! Yes I do mean the Labour Party are putting the final nail into the coffin of the social housing model created as part of the Welfare State.  And what’s more the incompetent buffoons at the top of the social housing ‘sector’, yes the same ones who claim the ‘sector’ has found its voice, do not even realise it!

By the time most in housing and beyond read this the rumours circulating this evening that tomorrows Tory manifesto will include the right to buy housing association properties will see the social housing professional fixated on that and totally miss the death of social housing in Labour’s manifesto.

I am talking about the overall benefit cap and on page 47 of the Labour manifesto they confirm (a) they will keep the Tory benefit cap, and (b) ask SSAC to look at a lower cap figure outside of London – something that has been Labour policy since 2011 when first raised by Liam Byrne, then Shadow Secretary of State Work and Pensions.

labmanif-obckeepandlower

Note the context that Labour has promised no new borrowing and that makes clear that Labour will seek the same level of ‘welfare’ savings that the Tories refuse to say from where they are coming.  This is not a choice of Tory cuts and Labour non cuts – both the only two parties who can form the next government are committed to welfare cuts.

The overall benefit cap I have explained recently in at least four posts will see under the Tory plan that social landlords will no longer be able to afford to accommodate the household with 3 or more children and that this would happen immediately after the election should the Tories remain in office – see here and here and here and here and here and here.  For those who have read my previous posts you will also be aware of the systemic flaw in the overall benefit cap I wrote about almost 3 years ago in June 2012 and presented to the CIH SE conference in October 2012 only to be met with the response of social landlords will always house those in need which completely misses the point that social landlords cannot afford to take the financial risk of housing the family with 3 children due to both the Tory and Labour benefit cap policies which hasten on the systemic flaw and make it an immediate (ie May 2015 issue.)

The numerous recent posts on the overall benefit cap have received plenty of emails to me from chief executives in social housing who confirm my view that the OBC does mean landlords cannot afford the financial risk to arrears of accommodating the 3 child family.

The Tory plan I put into a table to show what it means which I now remind:

OBC 23K AND 90 PERCENT

The figures in red show those households that immediately after the election under the Tory plans social landlords can not afford to house any longer.

Note too that these households all qualify for at least a 3 bed property and so the the simplest way to assess the scale of this is to look at what percentage of stock is 3 bed or larger.  Nationally in social housing this is 35.02% and so if under occupied the landlord is exposed to bedroom tax arrears and if fully occupied is exposed to much higher benefit cap arrears.  Social landlords and the social housing model are well and truly shafted each end up!

Today, ahead of my scanning the Labour manifesto I was drafting some more detail of this to two chief executives and one of them has 43% of his stock being 3 bed or higher and the other sees 63% of her stock being 3 bed or higher.  Their housing associations are respectively 22% and 80% more at risk than the average social landlord.

I have not sent this yet as I scanned the Labour manifesto and saw what I have highlighted above – which mean the Labour Party still don’t see the death of social housing with the benefit cap and they too are minded to reduce it which will definitely kill the social housing model over the next parliament as the table below explains.

labmanif-obctable

The above table shows an illustration of the position at April 2020 or just before the next election and assumes that welfare benefit and child tax credit increase at 1.5% per year.

Note my point about 3 bed properties being affected and if a social housing 3 bed averages £105 per week in the regions and £135 per week in London today those rents will become £117 and £151 per week assuming rents rise as the same 2.2% they did this year.

It means, the same as the Tory OBC plan – that the social landlord across the UK cannot afford to house the family on benefit with 3 children or more.  It also reveals that should a lone parent with 3 children have another child than that household will get just £62 per week to set against a rent of £117 per week in Liverpool and just £112 per week against a £151 per week rent in London.  Yes a financial risk too far and social landlords cannot afford to house them in this LABOUR policy!!

Have a look again and you will see that the 5 child household will not get a penny in housing benefit or LHA – So where will they live!!

What this reveals is two major things.

Firstly, the Labour Party do not have a clue what the overall benefit cap means to the social housing model, that pillar of the welfare state they claim to honour and laud.  They are complete incompetent buffoons just like the Tories (assuming the Tories are not deliberately setting out to kill social housing that is!)

Secondly, and more scandalously, it shows that the social housing sector are even bigger incompetent buffoons as they have ignored the critical risk the overall benefit cap poses to their industry and the social housing model.

Despite the warm reception for my systemic flaw theory of almost three year ago (benefits and rents rise faster than cap and so erode the maximum to be paid in housing benefit) the sector chose to see the benefit cap as just a London issue and then only for the private tenant.  They also ignored the original DWP impact assessment which said 46% of those caught by the benefit cap were social tenants too.

Yet far more incompetent than all of this is that after the euphoria and hyperbole that surrounded the Homes for Britain rally in which the sector claimed to have found its voice, they must now surely realise that the lack of using that voice is not only because it was seen to be politicking but because they didn’t have anything to say as they did not see the critical danger of the overall benefit cap and how it means the death of the social housing model.

So in summary, the ineptitude of the mute social housing sector only has itself to blame when Labour say as they did today that they will continue with the benefit cap and seek to reduce it outside of London.  The Tory Party are incompetent (or maybe want to see the end of all social housing) and the Labour Party are incompetent because they do not see their policy means the end of social housing at a huge cost to the public purse.  Yet the Tory and Labour Party are incompetent BECAUSE the mind blowingly inept and ignorant and downright stupid social housing sector could not see what was right in their faces with the overall benefit cap and did not tell them!!

So even when the social housing intelligentsia stop focusing on the RtB threat to housing associations that tomorrow’s Tory manifesto is said to include, they will be so singly focused on that they will miss this critical threat which means the end of social housing anyway whether HAs are subjected to the admittedly huge issue of RtB or not…and once again the purported sector will miss it and the true architects of the death of social housing will be the chronically inept social landlords.

Long reader and a bit complex? I do apologise!  It contains numbers and figures? Oh I most sincerely apologise!  I am ranting a bit reader?  Too fecking right I am though, hey, its only the end of social housing after all, you know the housing of last choice and perceived as that because of the mute for three decade ignoramuses that run the sector.  Ah the old saw, management is like a septic tank, the big chunks rise to the top!!

 ______________________________________

Imagine that the Tories remain in power and they will implement the much reduced benefit cap policy which could easily see hundreds of thousands of families on benefit made homeless and be costing the public purse a fortune as well as the outrageous human impacts on the children involved.

The Labour Party try to challenge it in parliament only to be slapped down like a fly with the reply that it was their policy too!!!

So not only is the Labour Party shit scared to be seen as the party OF welfare in coming out against the benefit cap now as it has a 78% approval rating from the public (unheard of) and because the general public do not know this cap actually costs more to the public purse and individual taxpayer.

So this is not just a craven policy of the Labour Party now, it is politically reckless and naive as when the huge increases in homelessness happen and when we have 5 times as many children being made homeless as there are now we will have a neutered opposition to this human and economic disaster!!!

 

 

 

Chief Whip housing letter sees IDS in a Pickle!

Iain

I am concerned as to the discovery of the real rationale and policy intent upon social housing of our package of welfare reforms affecting the payment of housing benefit namely the spare room subsidy and overall benefit cap.

More specifically my concern is should the electorate realise that a cap does not mean a reduction in the overall cost of handouts and in fact can and does increase the overall bill then the political ramifications of your heroic reform of the burgeoning welfare state will be serious.

Your own departments housing benefit data reveals all four policies collectively cost the taxpayer in real terms £440 million more per year despite our huge efforts to politicise these pesky civil servants these past 5 years.  The inherited bill of £20.8 billion even when accounting for the 9.91% increase in HB average payment levels and accounting for the 2.95% increase in the housing benefit claimant count, or a real term like for like comparison, reveals an overall increase of £440 million per year at the April 2014 HB bill of £24.04 billion.

This means, collectively, these four reform policies, which all reduce housing benefit at source, have the real effect of increasing the overall housing benefit bill in other areas. Thankfully the general public are still of the mindset that a cut or cap must equal a reduction in cost though the many social media channels are attempting to explain this non sequitur to the great unwashed with some evidence this is beginning to work

Secondly, our politically powerful claim in public and in parliament that the spare room subsidy has saved £1 billion to the taxpayer is factually contradicted in your department’s official housing benefit figures and is worrying.

It is extremely difficult to hold the usual line that you choose not to recognise those figures and so we will need a new strategy and soundbite when the matter is raised.

Moreover, it is not arithmetically possible for the policy to save £1 billion in its two years of operation when it cuts an average of £14.98 per week from on average 480,000 households over this period.  This can only give a maximum theoretical figure of £750 million over the two year period and that assumes no expenditure cost of the programme such as the millions you have allocated to local government in Discretionary Housing Payments.

Regrettably, Iain and despite the efforts of Gove, some of the great unwashed have the basis arithmetic skills to compute the figures!

Our stated policy of reducing the benefit cap figure from £500 per week to £440 per week in London and a lower figure, perhaps 90% of this or £396 per week for families in the provinces is also having worrisome scrutiny.

This means in the cheapest low rent areas social landlords cannot fully occupy a 3 bed property as to do so would see the tenants receiving a maximum of £63 per week in housing benefit if they have 3 children and just £38 per week in housing benefit should the tenant have 4 children.  Previously we have persuaded the typically mute and complicit social landlords that the benefit cap is just a private rented issue in high rent areas yet this can no longer hold as some of the sandal wearing Guardian reading woolly liberals are already stating this means the social landlord has a huge financial risk is they FULLY occupy the property on top of the spare room subsidy financial risk if the landlord UNDER occupies the property.

The benefit cap and bedroom tax policies work against each other, as we always have known, is becoming common knowledge in social media circles and that the social landlord is at financial risk which ever way they tenant the property.  Such social media reports say this also gives a strong financial imperative for all social landlords to not accommodate the tenant household in receipt of welfare benefit which begs the question where are such households to live?

The benefit cap is a greater financial risk to the private sector landlord given the higher rent levels the unsubsidised market has to charge and that leaves the housing option for the family in receipt of benefit to be excessively high taxpayer cost of temporary homeless provision and for far longer duration that currently exist. So while we have always known about disguising the true cost by transferring a proportion of the additional HB bill to local government this is potentially becoming common knowledge and also worrying.

In short our package of heroic welfare reforms aimed at reducing the overall housing benefit cost,  that already cost the taxpayer more than they save, can now only increase that additional taxpayer cost of housing benefit in huge terms is inevitable and far more worryingly becoming common knowledge.

Thankfully, the sandal wearing Guardianistas have yet to find again the Pickles letter from 2011 despite the Guardian printing that letter with an extract from a letter sent by Cabinet Minister Eric Pickle’s private secretary to the private secretary of David Cameron back in July 2011 about the overall benefit cap.

“Firstly we are concerned that the savings from this measure, currently estimated at £270m savings p.a from 2014-2015 does not take account of the additional costs to local authorities (through homelessness and temporary accommodation). In fact we think it is likely that the policy as it stands will generate a net cost. In addition Local Authorities will have to calculate and administer reduced Housing Benefit to keep within the cap and this will mean both demands on resource and difficult handling locally.”

It would be most embarrassing if this personal letter from me to you gave recall to the unfortunate letter above from Nico Heslop to the PMs PPS Matthew Styles with its all too perspicacious warnings of the additional taxpayer cost of a £500 per week overall benefit cap which must lead to hugely increased higher taxpayer cost if the cap figure is reduced again, and despite the 78% approval rating for the policy.

As the old saying goes, you can fool some of the people all of the time but not all of the people all of the time and you know only too well from past experiences the good of the party is paramount and so henceforth the welfare reform policies will now be referred to as your welfare reforms.

However, should the electorate not discover the true impacts of your welfare reforms then the potential night of the long knives of course becomes full support from the 22 committee, Whites and the rest of the grandees.

Yours

 

Chief Whip

__________________

picklesleakedletter

And look what else this very perspicacious letter says….

 

picklesletteradditional homeless

Yes that means IDS carried on with his overtly political and economically costly overall benefit cap policy knowing not only that it would cost hundreds of millions per year more BUT it would also see an additional 20,000 families – or 50,000 men women and children – evicted and made homeless …with the cap at £500 per week.

Now reader, imagine just how many more men, women and CHILDREN will be evicted, made homeless and those CHILDREN’S lives and educational and health and economic chances well and truly buggered when IDS and the Tories lower the overall benefit cap to £440 per week in London and £396 per week in the provinces and because IDS believes it to be right!!!

And even if you are a heartless bastard dear reader, just imagine how much more tax you will have to pay for this blatant piece of political policy from the economic buffoon and deluded zealot that is Iain Duncan Smith!!!

 

 

 

 

IDS knowingly lies over HB as his own figures reveal bedroom tax et al COST £440m more per year

Housing Benefit in real terms has increased by £1.2 million PER DAY under the Tories.  Housing Benefit in real terms has cost the taxpayer £50,000 more PER HOUR under Iain Duncan Smith.  

Yet IDS said again yesterday the bedroom tax has saved £1 billion so how can that be?  There is only one answer to that which is IDS is deliberately and knowingly telling lies as below are the official HB figures that were released by ……Iain Duncan Smith.

A simple comparison between the inherited position in May 2010 and May 2014 reveals the following facts:

  1. Inherited was 4.75 million claimants receiving £84.24 per week for a total bill of £20.86 billion
  2. 4 years later it was 4.88 million claimants receiving £92.59 per week a total bill of £24.04 billion.

The total bill has increased by £3.18 billion in actual terms yet we need to compare like for like and account for two other facts (a) rent inflation and (b) claimant inflation

(a) In real terms the average paid out has increased 9.91% from £84.24 to £92.59 – or HB inflation

(b) In real terms the claimant count has increased 2.95% from 4.75 to 4.88 million – claimant inflation

The inherited cost of £20.86 billion by HB inflation of 9.91% this becomes £22.93 billion; and when we inflate that by claimant inflation of 2.95% this rises to £23.6 billion.

This £23.6 billion figure is what the inherited housing benefit bill should have been in REAL TERMS after 4 years of this government as it accounts for increases in the housing benefit paid out – rent inflation -and increases in the numbers receiving housing benefit, or claimant inflation.

The actual figure for the total HB bill at April 2014 was £24.04 billion or £440 million per year MORE that the like for like figure of £23.6 billion.

That means in real terms the HB bill has increased by £440 million per year and £1.2 million per day and costs the taxpayer over £50,000 per hour more to pay for. That can only mean IDS is lying when he says his welfare reforms such as the bedroom tax have saved £1 billion.  It means IDS must be stating known lies as the official figures he produces and he must know he is stating deliberate known lies as they are HIS official figures

__________________________________

 Sources:

The latest official HB figures published Feb 2015 are here (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/number-of-housing-benefit-claimants-and-average-weekly-spare-room-subsidy-amount-withdrawal)

Go to Table 4 for the claimant count and go to Table 5 for the average amount paid to each claimant.  You will find at April 2010 the inherited figures that the average paid in HB is as the figures above.

  1. Inherited was 4.75 million claimants receiving £84.24 per week for a total bill of £20.86 billion
  2. 4 years later it was 4.88 million claimants receiving £92.59 per week a total bill of £24.04 billion.

Yesterday was the latest utterance by IDS that the bedroom tax has saved £1 billion – see here

  • Iain Duncan Smith is a liar – QED
  • The bedroom tax has not saved the taxpayer a penny – QED
  • The benefit cap has not saved the taxpayer a penny – QED
  • The Local Housing Allowance or LHA cap has not saved the taxpayer a penny – QED
  • The Shared Accommodation Rate or SAR cap has not saved the taxpayer a penny – QED

UPDATE

Just as reminder reader as to the Tories stated purpose of the above 4 welfare reform (sic) policies when they inherited …

The DWP said in its magazine called HB Digest published in early July 2010 that:

The Chancellor announced a package of Housing Benefit (HB) reforms in his Budget statement on 22 June. Ministers are clear that the overall cost of HB, forecast to be around £20 billion this financial year, must be controlled and reduced. The package of reforms will save nearly £2 billion by 2014/2015

The package of reforms WILL SAVE nearly £2 billion…Yes the same package of reforms (sic) that actually COST the taxpayer £440 million per year MORE and DON’T SAVE A PENNY

Quad Erat Demonstrandum – QED

 

___________________________

I see IDS and DWP have archived the WE WILL SAVE NEARLY £2 BILLION document – That would be this one – http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130128102031/http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/issue-103-july-2010.pdf

hbwelfarereforms

Has the housing benefit bill been controlled? – NO!

Has the housing benefit bill been reduced? – NO!

Have the bedroom tax and benefit/LHA/SAR caps failed? – YES!

Has Iain Duncan Smith been habitually and knowing lying? YES!

________________________________________

PS – Yes I know I have not included the added taxpayer cost of the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) which has seen IDS and central government give local councils over £500 million in DHP to deal with the bedroom tax and benefit cap and LHA and SAR cap consequences. These of course ADD to the taxpayer cost of the package of reforms (sic) all aimed at reducing the overall HB bill.

But please note well reader despite all of the FACTS above which come from the official figures produced and released by the Department of Work and Pensions and are fully sourced, which demonstrate unambiguously that the package of reforms (sic) has undeniably INCREASED the taxpayer cost, that good Christian Iain Duncan Smith, he that has compassionate conservatism running through his veins, and no other,  must be right mustn’t he when he says his welfare reforms have saved as he “believes it to be so!?”

 

Tory policy to see 1 million UK children homeless by July? Yes!

Over one million children in the UK will be homeless by July 2015 – TEN TIMES the current offensive figure!

If we are really, really, really, really, really, lucky it may only see an additional 100,000 British children made homeless by the summer which more than doubles the current figure!

homeless UK

Welcome to IDS’s Britain!

Sounds incredulous. Have I finally lost it?  Have I become a scriptwriter for Nigel Farage with hugely dubious assertions?  No! The opening statement is the obvious consequence of the overall benefit cap policy of the Conservative Party.  What’s more it is very simple to explain.

  • There are 1.6 million households on housing benefit in the private rented sector.
  • 23% of these households or 365,684 have 3 or more children (over a million children)
  • The Tories benefit cap policy means these households will get between £ZERO and £456 per month towards their 3 or 4 bed rent in housing benefit.
  • The average 3 bed private rent is £671 per month at official figures at December 2014 meaning the private landlord will have no option but to evict and make homeless these families due to this minimum £215 pcm / £2580 pa shortfall
  • That means at least 1.1 million children will be made homeless (and 500,000 adults too) within 3 months if the Tories remain in power and reduce the cap from £500 per week to £440 per week in London and £396 per week in the rest of the country.

Stated policy of the Tories is to reduce the cap to £23k per year immediately after the election , circa £440 pw in London and have a lower regional cap.  The £396 per week figure is 10% less than the London figure.

The same policy may also see over 165,000 households (250,000 adults and at least 500,000 children) evicted and made homeless by social landlords, though this will take a lot longer to happen, perhaps a year, as social landlords cannot evict tenants at will at without any reason as the private landlord can.

These unbelievably horrific homeless figures could even be a huge underestimate as 54% of all benefit claimants according to official DWP figures have 2 children or more.

The 2 child household will also be evicted by private landlords as benefit for rent is not enough to cover that rent and the two child benefit household is a financial risk too far for the private landlord to house.  That would be 800,000 households – or 1.2 million adults and 2 million children in total made homeless just by private landlords out of financial necessity by the Tory benefit cap!

[As a comparator there were 90,000 homeless children in the UK at Christmas 2014]

The full details of the above I have discussed here, here, here and here and also here and this is not wild speculation at all.  It is THE most horrendous example of back of a fag packet policy making by the Tory coalition and is much worse than the bedroom tax or other benefit caps which do not save a penny.  In fact the housing benefit cuts and caps INCREASE the welfare benefit spend as the official figure show.  Yet this is a concept so seemingly bizarre that it is reported 78% of the public support and approve the benefit cap policy!

Reducing the cap as in the Tory stated policy will make the £12,768 per month housing benefit bill for 1 family evicted and made homeless by housing benefit caps as in this 175 second video by BBC London that shows WHY the benefit caps do cost the public public and the individual taxpayer millions per year. Yes that’s right £153,000 per year to house one homeless family is the result of the Tory benefit caps and that is just 1 of 700 similar cases in just one London borough, Westminster as the BBC video reveals.

The first benefit caps saw private landlords in London alone have to evict families with 4 or more children back in 2012.  Now the Tory benefit cap policy which they will introduce in just over 4 weeks time if remaining in office will see private landlords all across the UK evicting families with 2 or more children and social landlords being forced to evict all families with 3 or more children as the housing benefit nowhere nears covers the rent and makes eviction and homelessness a financial necessity for landlords.

If you want to see a million UK homeless children by the summer and if you want to see every town and city in the UK having British children begging like some impoverished third world country we see on our TV screens then vote Tory and keep believing the benefit cap saves money.

Further comment

Surely these figures cant be valid?  Surely at least one major or minor political party would have seen this by now and said something?  Joe you must be way off the mark here!!  No, no and no!

The figures are valid and are explained.  Every political party sees the electorates 78% approval rating for the overall benefit cap and says (a) we can’t come out against it because of that , and (b) assumes the policy does save money and not hold the unbelievably outrageous impacts I state above…which have been explained.  The electorate has been force fed the IDS lie – and he knows full well it is a lie -that the benefit cap saves money and that seems so full of (superficial) logical as surely a cap MUST save money!  Yet all it does is create huge additional housing benefit costs elsewhere as in homelessness and briefly explained above.

If any think tank, analyst, economist or party political activist or MP wishes to challenge these figures above, bring it on!

Note well if I have over-egged the figures by ten-fold it means there will be an additional 100,000 homeless UK children by the summer and that is more than DOUBLE the existing figure and all down, directly, to this offensive Tory overall benefit cap policy.

No political party has come out against this overall benefit cap and even the likes of Shelter, Crisis and all the other homelessness lobbies have not mentioned this at all either! Why?

There are 3.34 million working age claimants of housing benefit (HB and LHA) and the DWP FOI response of 2012 says 23% of all benefit claimants have at least 3 children and the overall benefit cap means the benefit family with 3 or more children cannot afford even the cheapest council 3 bed property.

Of these 3.34 million housing benefit working-age families with 3 or more children it needs less than 1 per cent of them to be evicted, just 33,000 households, for there to be an additional 100,000 UK homeless children.  10% is 1 million and 23% is well over two million children evicted and homeless.

It appears that 78% of the electorate who support the overall benefit cap do not realise that if we are extremely lucky there will be just 100,000 extra UK children made homeless by this ‘beloved’ policy!!  The UK will be lucky if it is just 1 million additional homeless children by the summer costing the taxpayer at least £5 billion per year MORE in housing benefit

Somebody please explain to me why the above figures are wrong as I don’t want to believe them myself!

______________________

There is no doubt that the private landlord will exit the housing benefit market as they have no choice but to seek less risky tenants given the financial imperative of the benefit cap and this will happen even in the lowest rent areas.

The impact on LA homeless budgets and costs will be measured in the billions per year with the assessments and especially with the provision of high cost temporary B&B and hotel provision.  That high cost accommodation will also last far longer too as the families made homeless will not be rehoused in social housing as they will also face the benefit cap there.

That means the family on out of work benefits, however that came about, are stuffed as no job, however temporarily, means eviction.  The benefit cap does apply to those claiming income support and ESA if in the working group so it applies to those sick and disabled as well as those temporarily unemployed.

Note too that the cap figure will remain constant in all likelihood over the parliament so with benefit inflation and rent inflation each year the gap between what is received in housing benefits and the rent level will increase each year meaning more and more will be evicted every year from social housing.

There will be an increase in empty properties while private landlords adjust their target tenants, yes that means many empty RTB properties causing community blight and reverse regeneration of many current and ex-council estates.

Stop and think for 5 minutes what the mass exit of the private landlord from the housing benefit market means, and this mass exit from the benefit tenant is inevitable, and the impacts and additional costs to the taxpayer are enormous.  The impact in human terms is enormous and Mrs Jones the new lone parent with 3 children after Mr Jones buggered off with his ‘fancy piece’ means the Jones family is evicted and the Jones children education and life chances are well and truly buggered.  The same Jones family will be evicted if Mr Jones has a heart attack or stroke at work and is resting up at home for a few months and intending to go back to work as he is the sole wage earner and has always paid his way or even if Mr Jones has been run over by a bus.

The overall benefit cap policy is the most ill-conceived social policy ever and of course it being this Tory policy the reduction which is de facto policy does not have any impact assessment done ahead of this de facto decision being taken.  It is the shameful politics of a Tory party hell bent on persecuting anyone on welfare benefit as the enemy who need to be taught a lesson.  The benefit recipient is the new enemy within and this Tory party don’t give a monkey’s that teaching then that lesson will cost the taxpayer at least £5 billion more per year if not over £10 billion or more per year – and make no mistake this policy will cost billions more per year which means every taxpayer will have to pay MORE in tax to pay for what the incompetent buffoon and zealot IDS “believes to be right!”