Coalition government steps up its attack on ‘social housing’

According to ‘Inside Housing’, the Housing Minister has revealed that landlords taking part in the new £3.3 billion round of “affordable rent” will have to enter into “’something for something’ efficiency deals with the government.” What might this mean you may ask? Mr Prisk told the Chartered Institute of Housing conference that landlords participating in what is said to be an 165,000 home programme would have to “find efficiencies, carry out conversions and disposals.

What this means is that in order to produce “affordable rent” homes (up to 80% of the market rate) landlords will have to agree to pay for this ‘privilege’ by converting homes on ‘social rents’ to “affordable rents” and sell off some of their social homes when they become vacant. In other words the programme wil denude the number of existing ‘social rent’ homes which a landlord has. Prisk wants landlords to maximise their own financial contribution. That’s because the subsidy per home falls from over £20,000 in the previous round to £18,000 in this one.

In response, Tom Murtha, head of Housing Charity HACT said “This is the sting in the tail and the beginning of the end of social housing for those in need.” Grania Long, Chair of CIH described the package as ‘modest but said “It is not the “game changer” required to make a significant impact to alleviate our housing crisis.”

The idiocy of this policy is that reducing the number of ‘social rent’ homes and increasing “affordable rent” will simply drive up the housing benefit bill. Indications from London and elsewhere is that only people on full housing benefit can afford “affordable rent”.

Carl Brown in Inside Housing  commented that

“This is the clearest indication yet that the government is trying to accelerate the demise of social rented housing, pushing tenants into less affordable  properties, while on the other hand seeking to restrict welfare which will underpin the rental income of these properties.”

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