- 412,000 affected households
- Average cost per year for tenants £824
- A total of £328m being taken out of tenant's pockets and local economies
- The North West worst hit financially at £63m, Followed by London at £56m
Data from the DWP reveals the detailed impact of the bedroom tax across England.
Trouble letting homes? Arrears Rising? Tenancy Turnover up?
12% of #ukhousing landlords are reporting higher arrears and voids levels in the latest @HCA_UK quarterly survey.
Don't let £'s go to waste. Prevention is better than cure. Get straight talking operational & proven strategic solutions from as little as £200 per day with payment by results.
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On this first annual UK #housingday, aside from general and individual experiences being shared across the #socialhousing sector, what exactly will the sector as a whole be doing?
We thought it would be interesting to take data from the @HCA_UK 's Statistical Data Return dataset 2013 to shed some light.
So we've 'mined' that annual data and divided it by 263 working days to produce a daily snap shot of the basics which staff up and down England will be doing today.
On this day, staff will be letting homes at social rents to 1047 people who otherwise can't afford one or need some form of support, and 113 to new tenants at 'affordable' rents ( generally 80% of the market rent)
They'll also be completing 85 mutual exchanges with tenants who are swapping their homes for a variety of reasons - either their current one is too small, too big, too far away from work or neighbours etc. In light of the #bedroomtax and the need for many of those affected needing to move, there may be even more.
They'll be taking handover of 181 newly built or acquired homes: 151 for rent and 30 for sale on a shared ownership basis.
On this day, staff will be coordinating and delivering 26,000 responsive repairs for tenants (based on a sector average of 3 per year per property).
They'll also be starting the repairs and reletting process for 104 homes which will become empty as the former tenant leaves for whatever reason. 90 of those homes will be converted from a social housing rent to an affordable rent.
They'll be completing the sales process for 12 existing tenants (through the Right to Buy/Right to Acquire etc), as well as 31 sales of initial shares in a low cost shared ownership home, and 'staircasing' sales to 11 existing shared owners who have decided to buy the remaining shares and own their property outright.
The Sad Side.....
Unfortunately, staff will be evicting 34 tenants today. 25 for rent arrears. 5 for antisocial behaviour. 4 for other reasons.
They'll also be handling 51 empty properties becoming vacant which their organisation will decide for whatever reason are not currently available to let, and the demolition of 18 homes.
Not the outcomes many would like to see, but the sad reality nevertheless.
I came across this view on a half term break in Devon last week. Outstanding isn’t it? Imagine waking up to that each day and then watching the sun set from it each evening.
It’s even more impressive when you realise it’s the view from the front of a 3 bed North Devon Council House on Worth Road in Ilfracombe as below.
And the rent for this home is only £94 per week,compared to the average (according to Zoopla) in the area of £600pcm.
Not many social housing properties will have views like this, but it’s a view many prospective owners and private renters ineligible for ‘social housing’ nearby will pay very handsomely for. Yet there are two similar social housing properties with uninspiring views currently on the DevonHomeChoice listings at the very same rent per week.
Is it time to release the shackle on social housing rents that is ‘rent restructuring’ and move towards a market based approach which mirrors valuation methodologies of homes for sale and private rents? Properties in well managed and maintained neighbourhoods or with good views like this could attract premium rents. Others would need to have rents adjusted based on demand. If demand is low, or the property or even neighbourhood poorly managed/maintained, rents would need to reflect what people are prepared to pay. Not some abstract Whitehall construed formula based on valuations of properties in 2001, average incomes, and the number of bedrooms as is currently the case, and which many landlords have not managed to implement fully yet.
The NHF recently called for HA’s to be free to set their own rents, and as L&Q CE David Montague recently outlined, rent policy at the moment is based on the luck of the draw anyway. Those who say it will be inequitable to charge differential rents please do read the link above - the inequity of neighbours in the same properties paying different rents is already happening depending on when they got their tenancy. Pay to stay proposals will extend these differentials on the basis of tenant’s income. Is it OK to charge a higher rent based on high income, but not a lower rent based on lower incomes or demand?
Setting rents based on demand could be as transparent as you can get for customers. Some winners, some losers – depending on the emphasis given to ‘social returns’ on investment by their landlords. And that's the tip of the iceberg of potential benefits: freeing up higher returns on assets to deliver more new homes, better Vfm, and socially responsible commercial approaches etc?
Even if you don't agree, at the very least, this view from Worth Road could be a contender in a 'best view from social housing in the UK' photo competition?
About the Author
Peter Hall is MD of PHHS: follow him via @Phhsl
Follow the conversation about this article on LinkedIn at The Social Housing Store
When Eastlands Homes placed an article in its tenants newsletter earlier this year asking tenants to think about whether they could really afford Sky, cigarettes, bingo, drinks and other non-essentials, it caused an 'interesting' debate on what is essential in the context of paying your way
Stephen Covey once said, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication”. In this article, Barry Marlow outlines how success in managing and advising someone else on their budget takes skill and trust, and if you really want to engage with tenants in debt who might be reluctant to talk to you, don't pre-judge them.
How to unlock existing #bigdata to realise, optimise and sustain value for money in the #ukhousing sector
"Big Data". The new buzzword in the housing sector. As Bernard Marr states, it is still such a foggy term that it attracts many myths ranging from ‘big data is not useful to anyone’ to ‘big data will help us solve all our problems’. Like most things, the truth can be found somewhere in the middle.
Housing organisations like all other businesses can already delve into existing data repositories and transactions using big data techniques to extract maximum analysis, insight & value for money. Here we outline how.
Commercialisation. It’s the new buzz word in the social housing sector alongside ’big data’.
But aside from diversifying into areas such as market rent , shared ownership and build for sale, is there a real understanding of the extent of commercialisation required?
Is there an inevitable need to adopt a more commercial approach merely to survive?
Buried amidst all the changes that have taken place in the last few years across the housing sector is a significant regulatory change.
The Homes and Communities Agency has confirmed that English Social Housing landlords can now take deposits from new tenants.
In this article, Peter Hall and Barry Marlow outline how reviewing an approach to tenancy deposits could be an effective tool in the box to help landlords maximise income in the new era of direct payments by tenants.
Peter Hall (@PHHSl) writes passionately about the bedroom tax, asking Why aren't more landlords reclassifying homes to ease the real pain being caused?
There’s been a lot of press this week on 100 days of the bedroom tax and its impact. The NHF highlighting the impact in the North West citing £21m lost income. Aragon taking the time, effort and presumably significant resource to produce a glossy brochure on the impact on its business (a £7,000 increase in arrears while 5 staff have been recruited to help people affected ‘budget’ better!) And then I see that a man slashed his throat in a job centre after complaining about the impact of the bedroom tax.
All this time, effort and negative impact on businesses, and most importantly, individuals, when all the time landlords have it in their power in one fell swoop to take away all misery and suffering it’s causing – as I’ve written in detail about elsewhere - by reclassifying properties. Simple. Change it from a 3 Bed to a 2 Bed for rent purposes and charge a lower rent. Or a 2 bed to a 1 bed. Some have done so. Why aren’t others following suit?
The housing sector is rightly very proud of its origins in the philanthropic Peabodys and Rowntrees, among others. Surely it makes business and philanthropic sense to simply reclassify homes and reduce the rent charge (even temporarily) in the circumstances?
What rational business would sit back and see £000’s being lost on rental income merely because the property is ‘hard to let’ because of the bedroom tax, or even consider demolition rather than just reduce the rent by a few £’s a week?
Does it make sense to employ 5 people to help with budgeting when those badly affected have no budget to speak of or hope of a move or work in the near future? Does it make business sense to spend £’s chasing arrears which you’ll never recover?
And what genuinely philanthropic business would see the physical and emotional human hardship and turmoil being caused by the bedroom tax, and choose not to act in the most simple manner to end that simply because ( as I’ve seen commented elsewhere) ‘we can’t allow rent policy to be dictated by government welfare policy’ or some notional fear of lenders not liking what they see. Especially with HA surpluses rising yet again for the last financial year. L&Q up to £100m. Home Group doubling to £64m. Hyde £25m. Riverside £22m. The reductions in rents by reclassifying properties and saying they have less bedrooms are a drop in the ocean compared to those levels.
Come on #ukhousing. Do that maths. Get creative. Don't do what you're told to do. Do what you know is right. Ask all of your tenants rather than your FD or your board what they would rather you do and give them some genuine options on where savings could be made elsewhere to keep services going , still maintain and improve existing stock , and deliver much needed smaller new homes for those affected to move into. I’m betting most would happily agree to their fellow tenants being given some reprieve on a ‘there but for the grace of god go I’ basis! And it needn't be permanent. Just give those affected some relief for a limited period at least while other options are worked through - lodgers, downsizing etc.
If I’m barking up the wrong tree, let me know. But if you’re a fellow housing professional, tenant or interested observer who feels the same, tweet away at #sayyestoreclassify!
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