Social Housing Collapses As Homelessness Soars

HousingIsaHumanRightThe number of social housing properties let on ‘social rents’ fell to a five year low in 2012/13 in England* figures released this month reveal.

Just 350,835 properties were rented out on secure or assured tenancies at social rents by councils and private sector providers – usually meaning housing associations – in the last year.  Even adding in the new fixed term tenancies, with so-called affordable rents, the entire stock of new lettings hit a three year low, falling by around 15,000 properties since this government weren’t elected in 2010.

The amount of properties rented out by Local Authorities has been falling for years, however a small growth in Housing Association and other privately managed social housing had kept the numbers reasonably stable.  That is no longer the case with local authority lettings down by 6% in 2012/13 and lettings by private providers falling by 3%.

Tenancies on affordable rents – which can be as high as 80% of of private sector rents – made up around a fifth of all general needs (meaning non-supported housing) tenancies started in 2012/13.  According to the statistics from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) the average affordable rent is £114 a week across England and a whopping £160 in London.  Traditional social rents averaged £80 per week across England.

The Government are hellbent or replacing what little social housing is left with ‘affordable’ tenancies which are anything but.  These new tenancies can include ludicrous conditions such as both maximum and minimum income levels and even elements of workfare.

These figures come in the same month that The Guardian reported that 10,000 social houses have been flogged off since April 2012 under the right to buy scheme.  As the supply of social housing shrinks, private sector rents are soaring in many parts of the country and house prices look set to do the same as.  Local Housing Allowance, a benefit paid to to private sector tenants whether in or out of work, was first cut by Osborne in 2010 and then frozen below inflation in the Benefits Uprating Bill this year.  Wages are stagnating and a raft of other cuts to benefits mean increasingly people find themselves dipping into rent money to keep the lights on or feed their children.

Every measure of homelessness is rising and the impacts of both the Benefit Cap and the Bedroom Tax have yet to be felt.  The days of a council house for life on a rent which low income people could afford has now almost disappeared for new tenants entering social housing.  Whilst much has been made of the plight of aspirational professionals hoping to get on the housing ladder,  almost no-one – except those affected – has seemed to notice the demolition of housing provision for those at the very bottom.

That may all start to change.  The number of people sleeping rough in London has doubled since 2008 and rocketed by 13% last year.  Street homelessness is one of the most visible signs of poverty.  When people see with their own eyes what Iain Duncan Smith has done, then any lingering support for his bungled and brutal welfare reforms may yet evaporate.

*Figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not collected by the DCLG.

This full figures can be found at:

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid


34 responses to “Social Housing Collapses As Homelessness Soars

  1. Pingback: Social Housing Collapses As Homelessness Soars ...

  2. Tying social housing to welfare to work is tantamount to bringing back tied cottages for workers during the 19th and early 20th century which is most certainly not good policy making.

    Everything has been and is being done for the benefit of mortgagees and first time house buyers as you rightly said, but those at the bottom of the incomes scale have little or no chance of aspiring to buy a house and are reliant on social housing throughout their lifetime, never knowing what it is to have a rent free dwelling, other than a cardboard box.

    • overburdenddonkey

      g fawkes
      yes, the new reality, with a firm foothold in 19th c britain, deserving, undeserving, eligibility and less eligibility, charity determined by how one pleases the master, charity the new welfare state…”have you been good, do you deserve your presents, of food, air, water, fire, and earth”….”we have devised the ultimate test called unfettered capitalism, which depends on the constant proving of need and trail by ordeal”..”we do hope you pass, consistently”….”any problems do not hesitate to contact us, as we are your servants”…

  3. not satire – but maybe this is why SkyTV constantly show families in ‘hardship’ around the world and ask for a donation -the population of this country (except rich) will have the same problems if this carries on!!

  4. The Tories and Lib Dems hate social housing the rent arrears that accrue due to bedroom tax along with other measures such as HB being paid directly to tenants instead of social landlords plus high loan costs may bankrupt HA’s. It is noteworthy that private landlords and mortgage lenders will continue have HB paid direct to them. Cameron and Co plus their banking pals will clean up buying up these properties if the opportunity arises

  5. But isn’t this what Thatcher started in the 80s and Cameron is now finished off in 2012? This is what the Tories want. NO public housing and everyone struggling to pay the extortionate rents by the majority of landlords.

    I say the majority and not all, because my son is a landlord and he and his wife only charge rent to pay the mortgage for the property. They could ask for more in today’s market for a two bedroom flat, but they only charge £600 rent which is much lower than the rents around the area.

    • Anne selby Author

      Nevertheless your son is still having his house paid for him by a renter, who would be able to buy a flat for themselves if they could get a mortgage.
      Some people rent for convenience sake but most have to do so because they are in low paid or insecure employment.

      • Absolutely right guy fawkes, and you could add to the list those who have become unemployed (or their business collapsed) and lost the home that they first took out a mortgage on many years previously (and I’m one of them!)

        • overburdenddonkey

          if there were no buy to let, which is effectively someone else slogging to pay the mortgage, with nothing to show for it, when the buyer decides they want the place back coz it’s “theirs”, coupled to the great social housing sell off swindle, and insufficient housing being built for the last 30yrs, £800pcm+ rents would likely be £300pcm or less…same with people who moved to london 20/30/40yrs ago, rents were affordable, i mean no one moved to chelsea thinking that they were living in millionaires row, 20/30/40yrs ago, no more than a bus driver at bow, did when they bought their house then for 50000grand or less, or even for 40000grand or less, did, asset rich and penny poor …

        • Max it also means that the person who is renting out their home has another property which they are living in, unless they are living with parents.

  6. overburdenddonkey

    what’s the best way to drive rents and house prices up, restrict supply, cap housing benefits, drive people out and/or make people desperate, threatened with homelessness, and capitalise on it,.don’t add to social housing stock, sell them off, buy to let, and drive up demand, with uncapped limitless rents that can now be charge hey presto, high rents and house prices…..

    • obd

      You will find that half of the councillors and mp’s are landlords of property, so they are not going to call for the building of more social housing and put their lucrative sidelines out of business.

  7. Society won’t care until the poor are rioting in their shanty towns – and maybe not even then.

    • overburdenddonkey

      we can rattle out spoons on our corrugated tin walls..well since the early 60’s, events have unfolded, to now reached this hallowed state of misery, martin niemoller proved right yet again, break resistance, slowly but surely, dominate, and suck dry the masses…

  8. “Now you know why Homeland Security purchased 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition, enough ammunition to fight the Iraq war for 12 years, has its own para-military force and 2,700 tanks. If you think the “terrorist threat” in America warrants a domestic armed force of this size, you are out of your mind. This force has been assembled to deal with starving and homeless people in the streets of America.”

  9. Barnet council (Barnet Homes) have announced they are building new council homes for the first time since 1991.
    Don’t get too excited – it’s only 3…..

    • Dave, I hope they’ve made sure that there aren’t too many bedrooms in their huge increase in the council housing stock!

  10. Dave

    Councils in our area have knocked down streets of old council housing stock and replaced it with a mixture of houses to buy or part buy? part rent
    which nobody can afford, but the land for social housing has now been turned into private housing mainly and is empty.

  11. Pretty soon the unemployed and anybody claiming benefits will have to wear a patch on there clothes……

    • That’s gonna be one helluva lot of patches for all of the pensioners, most supermarket employees (on WTC), and everyone enjoying CTC irrespective of their income/wealth. Oh, I forgot, that’s not veiwed as ‘claiming benefits’ is it?

  12. Well with me being on the bottom of the ladder so to speak, i think its disgraceful that our corrupt government has no interest in helping those on low incomes or on benefits, i use to work 6 days a week and lost my job because of my illness and the only place i got from my council was a 1 bed flat that is not insulation and has damp in the bedroom,bathroom and hallway, i have no choice but to stay there even tho it is making my illness worse as i just can not afford anywhere else yet the council are now in the process of building 2000 more houses/bungalows but half are for those over 65 and the rest are to be sold to private buyers but at ridulous prices, i swear this government will be the death of me

  13. something survived...

    Rooms here start at £400 a month excluding bills, for a tiny room. That’s the going rate of pretty much all of them, and they want you to be an ablebodied person and paid worker/fulltime student. So no part time or mature students, no disabled people, unpaid workers, workfare, or unemployed/benefits people. I’m all the above and have learned it’s not worth wasting 60p/£1.20 a time in a freezing cold, high-up, pissed-in phonebox. The second they learn of me being any of the above, let alone anything they object to about me, they slam the phone down. You’re right I wouldn’t want a landlord like that, but everyone has to live somewhere. You then go to a place that does not say ‘no DSS’ (sic), but of course turns out to be, and they want to charge you council tax. Knowing that as disabled you should be exempt or get a reduction (the ‘fulltime student exemption’ discriminates against those on benefits and too disabled to either work or to study fulltime.). Knowing full well that even if you are technically liable, possibly for the entire house, you will not get or qualify for council tax benefit even if you should rightly get CTB. And that if you got CTB it’d stop each time your benefits were sanctioned. And happy they can evict you any time your benefits were late, stopped, reduced, delayed…
    Another house this week said ‘families only’. I think I can guess how they define a family!( =Not us!) Let’s say that despite the odds you manage to get a place. The landlord can kick you out in 2 months or sometimes immediately, for no reason, or make up something you didn’t do so they can go for instant eviction. Now there’s no legal aid how do you fight it? I’ve tried when there was legal aid and my lawyers were utter crap. Often they don’t bother with courts and just evict you onto the street.
    So let’s say for the sake of argument the pretenancy check people said you’d get HB, and you abandon your home and move in to the new place. But here is the problem. The council here say £400 a month is not what they will pay in HB. They tell you to find somewhere £200 a month. They are either idiots or sadists, as anyone actually living here and looking for housing well knows that NOWHERE is £200 a month here, since about 10+ years ago, except for the occasional grotty unheated caravan on a sloping field miles from anywhere – and such places come up rarely. (I’ve found many shitty caravans over the years, some with the door hanging off or the windows broken, others with holes rusted through the walls, others with no toilet facilities or washing facilities. Almost 20 years ago I recall you could get a shitty caravan for £5 a week. The same shitty caravans, never repaired, are now closer to £50 a week and the landlords often evict the same day they tell tenants of eviction.) Today I saw a room. It is miles in the countryside, tiny with just a bed taking up most of the room. There’d be no space for any possessions. You’d need a car. It is £84pw. Also it indicates on the poster that the landlady can evict at a day’s notice, she lives there. Despite it being so basic, at that price the council would not be prepared to pay you any HB to live there. Also 20-odd years ago, nearly, I remember many more people living in vans of various kinds, not just camper vans. They’d park on places and either get arrested or moved on because it was public or private land (= Not allowed!). In places I’ve been like Birmingham, people live on boats on the canal. That actually works out as expensive. You have all sorts of taxes, charges and running costs. Mooring permissions/fees, licences, chemical toilet emptying/cleaning, fuel, cooking fuel, transport to get to land sites without good links, charges and tolls to use certain locks/lifts/tunnels/aqueducts etc. Not to mention the cost of constantly cleaning, repairing, painting, waterproofing, maintaining, servicing the boat, and declogging weeds/obstructions (if it’s badly stuck you get someone to help and have to pay). Buying particular food that won’t go off. A generator to run any appliances on board. Fees for education/commuting. Buying PO Box Numbers, having mail forwarded. These days, internet charges. Costs associated with illness or injury, like hiring crew if you are unable to work a lock but have to move on. Dealing with theft, vandalism etc. (I heard last year a woman got raped on her boat by yobs that just jumped on board) Costs of parcel forwarding/collection. Cost of eating in pubs if you don’t or can’t cook/eat on board. Etc. Boats at sea have some of the same issues but it is even more expensive, mostly mooring fees etc.
    Locally there are tent cities in mostly wooded areas around our city. The police keep raiding them. We ought to call them Cameronvilles, after Hoovervilles! On TV documentaries about poverty and/or homelessness, I’ve seen the police in England and Scotland actually ripping down, kicking down or burning down people’s tents and belongings. Then driving the person to the middle of nowhere and dumping them, or arresting them for vagrancy and illegally camping and trespass and squatting, and frankly any other bullshit charge their piggy little microdot minds can come up with. Also even with hostels, ‘the possessions of a tramp’ don’t seem to matter! They don’t care if the homeless person is attacked, injured, or sick. Or if they die. They just moan about the cost of the autopsy and pauper’s funeral, to the council.
    It’s like the moment you become homeless you cease to be a person, in their eyes. Female tramps (as they put it, I hate the word tramp) and of course males, get left somewhere to get raped and nobody really cares.
    It’s ‘okay’ for yobs to piss on a tramp, strip them, set them on fire, whatever. Or of course nick and dump their belongings just for fun. When you’re nicked for vagrancy the cops tend to drag you off and leave most of your stuff (or all of it) behind, so you lose it. They don’t care if it’s your bible, ID papers, proof of benefits letter, money, medication, rosary, mother’s jewellery, photo of family. If they take it along they still generally throw it away.

    All of the above would be extremely instructive if it were applied to David Cameron. After 3 weeks in a skip full of rotting fish heads, would he still feel the same way about the poor and those he is making poor?

    • The Houseboaters

      What was the second happiest day of your life? Buying my boat 🙂
      What was the happiest day of your life? Selling my boat 🙂

  14. Daily Mirror 5 March 2013 Wealthy investors own scores of ex council properties via off shore holding firms in tax havens in the channel isles. Not satisfied with one 2 million pound house in Esher Surrey Charles Gow ( son of Tory ex housing minister , who orchestrated right to buy in the Thatcher Government) inherited at least 40 ex council properties from his father

  15. Jesusisananarchist

    When HB is bundled in under Universal Credit, & 100000s of people are sanctioned, the consequent arrears will lead to mass evictions leading the private buyers to buy up ex-Council & ex-HA properties en masse, & leaving the tenants homeless – many of whom were in assured tenancies in properties they’d lived in for decades. At present, a sanctioned claimant can still claim HB / CTB based on zero income but that will change under UC – no wonder they’re spending hundreds of millions setting it up.

  16. Landless Peasant

    A survey for anyone affected by Bedroom Tax:

  17. we here in the uk have this toxic obsession with owning property which is ecouraged by government from a young age the owning of property is seen as a barromiter of our social standing and anyone not owning property by god forbid as late as 25 is seen as some sort of failier this is a very dangerous and warped national obssssion and as we can clearly see all around a toxic one witch is causing chaos i mean for fucks sake the homeless are growing by the day people are at the mercy of shyster lettings agents and landlords and lets be real here nearly all lettings agents are dishonest ,its a situation thats out of control esp here in the south with nowere now to rent for anyone on benefits ooh hang on a min yes there is the uninhabitable slums that nobody but nobody in there right mind would fucking live in the one with chronic damp cockroches and rats crazy neihbours druggies and pissheads yeah thats were we live thease ministers esp grant shatts have no concept of wot its like liveing in a slum like the one i live in surrounded by all of the above cant live you cant funktion its a daily battle with your does my head in..a caravan sounds like bliss..away from the crazys the squalor all the shit.

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