124% above inflation SOCIAL housing rent increases under the Tories

February 2, 2018

By Joe Speye

Private rent levels in England increased 36% more than inflation from April 2010 to March 2017. The facts from the authoritative English Housing Survey published last week will come as no surprise as the private landlord is perceived as a money-grabber and ‘nasty.’

YET those same facts from the same authoritative and official EHS source also reveal that housing associations increased their rents 106% more than inflation and council landlords by 124% more than inflation over the period.

The real rent thieves are the social landlords. Below I discuss in overview why such excessive rent increases are unsustainable and conclude that social landlord practices have gone under the radar and are directly responsible for increased homelessness and increased UK poverty.

CPI inflation was 16.59% in this time yet:

  • Private rent increased 22.55% while

  • HA rents rose 34.24% and

  • Council rents rose 37.17%.

The facts – buried in Annex Table 1.12 – are a damning indictment on the so-called social landlords who have been taking the social tenant for a fool and as a cash cow. Yet nothing will change while the usual suspects are blinkered and they need to change and fast.

What have been the impacts on homelessness from these offensive social housing rent rises? All adverse to the existing social tenant borne out by increasing evictions and the prospective social tenant who is increasingly not allocated social housing due to affordability and for whom the homeless queue is the only option.

The same adverse impacts happen with poverty as they do with homelessness yet the usual suspects of the Guardian, Labour Party, Shelter and Joseph Rowntree Foundation (among many others) only look at the ‘nasty’ profit-motivated private landlords and all the research hypotheses start from this basis. They believe the myth promoted by social landlords of private landlord bad and social landlord good and that has to stop.

Social tenants feel powerless yet the latent power of circa 6 million adult voters who live in social housing is immense yet remains untapped and tenants need to organise to stop these excesses of social landlord and government policy which allows it to be excessive. If private tenants can do it and come together in the likes of Generation Rent there is no reason why social tenants can’t become a collective lobby. In short social tenants need to get off their backsides and do something rather than spouting enough is enough on social media. Actions speak louder than words!

Where do social landlords get off in seeing the tenant as cash cow? Why do truly ignorant social (sic) landlords think above inflation rent increases are sustainable as a business model? It is not and they are deluded.

In July 2017 the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) reported that from 2007 to 2017 (and thus a longer period than 2010 to 2017) average household incomes of first-time buyers in the UK rose 17%. So why is it thought sustainable that 34% – 37% rent increases over 7 years in that context for tenants who self pay their rent? It simply is not.

The social tenant benefit household has seen circa 11.6% increases in household income from 2010 to 2017 yet has had the same 34% to 37% increases in rent imposed over the period. That is even less sustainable for social (sic) landlords.

The Tory government that has allowed these increases is paying out billions more in housing benefit by allowing social (sic) landlords to treat tenants as cash cows when 73% of all social tenants rely on housing benefit to pay the rent as the DWP data has always revealed with 3.2 million social tenants on HB out of 4.4 million GB households. These increases are far more than any ‘savings’ the Tories claim for bedroom tax or benefit cap too.

Thus, these rent increases by the really ‘nasty’ social landlords, although unseen, are not in the interests of tenants, landlords, homeless lobbies, poverty lobbies, and government and opposition. Yet all these ‘usual suspects’ are silent on the issue and blind to it.

We have a rent crisis of affordability in the UK and one which dwarfs the supply issue in the UK housing crisis and note the same EHS reveals that in the 2010 to 2017 period 7 in every 8 new households were in the private rented sector and revealed that the home ownership crisis is also much greater than the supply aspect of the ubiquitous UK Housing Crisis term that is bandied about.

You can’t solve any problem until you correctly analyse what the problem is!

In summary, the facts and the evidence must win out and no longer can we see social landlords as beneficent and private landlords as nasty. No longer can we deny the links of increased social housing rents to poverty and homelessness and the overall HB bill. No longer can social tenants not organise and no longer can the opposition, the journalists and the research analysts ignore that excessive social housing rent increases are the root cause of so many social policy problems and they have been blind and largely unwilling to see the wood from the trees.

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English Housing Survey 2017 is here and the rent increases found in Annex Table 1.12

Further detail on other matters not reported from the EHS is here e.g. 7 in every 8 new households since 2010 are in the private rent sector revealing the Tories home ownership crisis.

You can read more from Joe Speye at his webpage by clicking HERE

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