A government-designed system that is creating homelessness and forcing people to use food banks

Research published by Sheffield Hallam University on behalf of the Residential Landlord Association shows that landlords are, increasingly, refusing to let their properties to those under 35. There are a number of reasons for this, not least that the landlord might not get paid on time or at all.

32% of landlords (of the 1,996 questioned) have said that that they have actively reduced lettings to those under 35.

The situation is more acute for those under 35 in receipt of housing benefit or universal credit. Two-thirds of landlords say they are unwilling to let to this group because of a higher risk of rent arrears as payments are delayed through administrative delays and payments are made to the tenant rather than direct to the landlord.

We used to have a system that almost used to work but then some idiot decided that a higher priority would be to prepare claimants for the reality of work by mirroring the conditions of those in work. He (it was a ‘he’) then introduced a system that has been so poor in its design and execution that people are becoming homeless and others reliant on food banks to survive. It takes some sort of genius to drive people into destitution because of his own arrogant, self-belief.

I’m not going to name this person. Choose any name. It could be Iain, perhaps Duncan, or even Mr Smith. Whatever works for you.

Alan Ward, chair of the Residents Landlord Association, said: “We have already held constructive talks with the Government about this and we will keep the situation under review, but there is a need for policymakers to engage further with landlords to consider what more action can be taken to address this decline. Without this many under-35s are likely to struggle to access any accommodation” (my emphasis)

So where will those under 35 live? I challenge any of my Conservative friends, and I have quite a few, to tell me.

And while they are about it, will they say, hand on heart, that they are proud of what the welfare reform agenda is delivering, that it is a strong and stable system…..

And please don’t come up with the twaddle about rescuing the economy crashed by the former government or that there is no magic money tree. There is money there. There wasn’t a problem when the government needed £1 billion for its friends in the DUP.

One simple measure the government could do, and it will cost next to nothing, is to continue making payments direct to landlords. That might, just might, improve confidence.


Given the death of social housing as we have known it, private sector housing is now pivotal in providing #housing for ordinary people

In Hastings colleagues have been gathering various bits of information, evidence and statistics regarding the private rented sector. They recently did a mystery shopper exercise where they went to letting agents.

Hastings is starting to hit a crisis point with regards to private rented sector (PRS) accommodation, and I fear that if Hastings doesn’t do something regarding this issue that we will get to the situation we have in Brighton and Hove where rents for a typical one bed flat now costs over £850 per month. This situation has been exacerbated by George Osborne’s announcement of a freeze on housing benefit / local housing allowance (in Brighton and Hove at c£612 per month).

Many local authorities do not have specific, dedicated PRS strategies, although there are bits and pieces about PRS but these can be buried in homeless strategies.

Given the death of social housing as we have known it, and the likelihood that the PRS is now so pivotal in providing housing for ordinary people, it is important that any PRS strategy seeks to harness a partnership between landlords, tenants and housing organisations.

Over the next few months my colleagues in Hastings are going to try and pull together into a meaningful document all the evidence, statistics, and information we have, and holding a meeting with other agencies to discuss the what we know and what we can do. We will try to convince Hastings Borough Council to implement a specific PRS strategy.

It pains me to add at this point that I have no idea on how we can solve the PRS crisis. But at very least I would hope that we can get people thinking and talking about the issue.