According to the National House Building Council, the number of public sector housing registrations dropped from 36,680 in 2011, to 26,390 in 2012. This dwarfed a small rise in private sector house building, meaning the number of new homes built overall in the UK fell by 9% last year.
The devastating loss of social provision is only likely to get worse over the next year. Social Housing providers have warned that they may have to cut new house building by 8% simply because of the impact of Universal Credit. Early pilots of Iain Duncan Smith’s sweeping overhaul of the benefits system showed that arrears doubled in areas where the new payment system was trialled. Housing Associations are stockpiling cash rather than building houses due to fears of an oncoming wave of arrears and evictions.
Not to be outdone, Housing Minister Mark Prisk is determined to make the situation even worse. Prisk recently squandered almost a million pounds of tax payer’s money promoting the very same Right To Buy policies that created the desperate lack of affordable housing in the UK.
In many parts of the UK even so called ‘affordable homes’ can cost more in weekly rent than the wages from a minimum wage job will pay, or those on even average incomes can afford. Recent changes to legislation could see Social Housing providers charging rents at 80% of the local private sector average. In parts of London ‘affordable’ rents could be upwards of a thousand pounds a month, even in the outer boroughs.
With housing benefits being slashed, a collapse in social housing and private rents soaring out of control, millions may soon found themselves at very real risk of homelessness. The safety net of the welfare state is no longer strong enough for even the working poor to be able to afford a place to sleep
Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid