Social Housing in the UK (in particular - London)

Discussion in 'Politics' started by odonII, Jul 20, 2013.

  1. odonII

    odonII O

    No, wait don't go...


    8.5 million of us now rent our homes - as fewer of us can afford to buy. This generation has been called generation rent.

    Landlords: own one in every five properties.

    Some landlords have found there is serious money to be made.

    Many tenants rely on housing benefit to pay the rent.
    But the government is trying to cut the £26 billion housing benefit bill and more and more tenants can't cover the rent.

    This is what it is really like on the sharp end/frontline of the new property divide when times are tough.

    Tenants are getting behind and risk losing their homes and the landlords; amateurs as well as the professional, are owed £282 million.

    Landlords struggle to get rid of non-paying tenants, some like first-time landlords have only one property and the arrears mean they can no longer cover their mortgage - having to sell everything they owns while tenants refuses to budge.

    A tenant is facing eviction and homelessness despite a diagnosis of cancer.
    Her landlord has worked out that he can make more money from sub-dividing her home into multi-lets and he wants her out.

    Meet the Landlords

    Hundreds of thousands unwilling to pay their rent.
    Thousands of landlords renting out nothing more than prison cells (creating bedsits where ever, and when ever possible)
    Sky hight rents...

    London needs sorting out. Quickly.
  2. deviate

    deviate Senior Member

    I would venture to guess this is what happens in any welfare state..

    That sounds pretty bad.
  3. odonII

    odonII O

    Section 8 (housing)
    $17 billion (from analysis). The maximum allowed voucher is $2200 a month.

    Is the only similarity I could find with a brief check.

    You chaps have massive housing 'projects' too, right? Almost like 'ghettos'.

    A '£26 billion housing benefit bill' (in comparison to the population) is pretty massive, but I would imagine it is so high because of the high rents landlords charge, for pretty much nothing at all.

    The issue now seems to be that for for thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of people will have to move out of the capital (London) because they can't afford to live there. I think that is what needs to happen. Others suggest that will push up rents elsewhere.

    It's a complicated mess.

    I'm not sure what can be done!
  4. Balbus

    Balbus Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

    Many argue that the problems go back to the neo-liberal policies that came to fore in the late 1970’s and to a large extend dominate today.

    Basically it was not unforeseen I remember discussing things back at the time of the Thatcher governments ‘right to buy’ scheme and the limitations put on councils to rebuild that if they were not careful they could seriously undermined the availability of affordable housing.
    The neo-liberal idea was that the two policies would encourage ‘free market’ forces to take over the provision of housing.
    It didn’t quite work out that way –there are many factors and its complicated but I’ll try and highlight a few things –

    The money was not in low end housing but middle class and higher housing, there was a flourish of ‘luxury’ flat building (I know I was working on them) many of these were brought by people who already had homes (as places to stay in London) or as investments to be rented out.

    At the same times the manufacturing policies of successive British governments have resulted in a immigration from outer regions to the South East, there is a lot of affordable housing in many of those areas but they are also few jobs. A family I know got jobs up north, they sold their London home and were able not only to buy a BIGGER house up north but had enough over to buy a flat down in London which they rent. Thing is that house prices have risen down here much faster than elsewhere and so I think it unlikely than the same family would be now unable to buy their original home even if they sold the northern house and the London flat.

    The other problem is the British planning permission system, which can hold up the building of housing in certain areas, a lot of these areas are inhabited by Tory voters. People in the richer areas of London, its leafy suburbs and the ‘green belt’ all became very adept at scuppering any attempts to build affordable housing in their areas (and sometimes in my opinion rightly so).

    Then there is the influence of the supermarkets the limitations of the Housing Associations, etc etc

    Oh a finally the present government, unable to create true economic growth (in exports for instance) seem to be trying to manufacture one through the creation of another housing bubble (a consumerist sham). Through the Help to Buy and Funding for Lending schemes the government seems to be giving out lots of money in an effort to to encouraging people to take out mortgages that maybe above their ability to pay (keeping house prices high and going higher) on properties that could tumble in price when those prices become unsustainable.

    And again this doesn’t seem to be aimed at affordable housing as such but more about assisting the struggling middle class who have money but not just enough. It is the type of people banks like to lend to and the help goes to those with a 5 per cent deposit who can then borrow up to 20 per cent of the value of a new home from the Government in the form of a loan that is interest–free for the first five years. Now the average price of a house in London is I believe £500,000 – 5% of that is 25,000. But lets say you get a cheap one bedroom flat in a rundown areas that can still cost you 200,000 and 5% of that is 10,000.

    Again this is supposedly being done to ‘encourage’ the free market to respond and build, but…

    House prices-
  5. Balbus

    Balbus Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

    As to the way the government policies seem to be going on those on benefits – it often seems to be about corralling them into no return ghettos.

    In London you’d get islands of the old remaining council housing in a sea of gentrification. You can see it happening already in many parts, once working class areas are changing as the Victorian house there hit a prices that exclude the ‘working class’ and even the lower middle classes.

    And those not in council housing? Well they could get moved out of London all together to end up in low rent ghettos away from the capital and more importantly that job market. They’d be caught in a catch 22 the only way to get out is to get a job but they can’t get a job because they can’t afford to live where the jobs are or have the money to commute to them.
  6. Balbus

    Balbus Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

    So what’s to be done?

    Above all we need to ditch the idea that the ‘free market’ is going to ride to the rescue, in housing it hasn’t had a good record as likely to create slums and predatory landlords than decent low rent housing. That is why from the Housing of the Working Classes Act (1885) onwards legislation has been needed and why most affordable housing was provided by local government authorities right up to the 1970 and the introduction of right to buy in 1980.

    We need to try and encourage the economic development of other regions, if the South East is the place where the jobs are that is where people will try and live and that drives up costs on available housing. Just building house in London creates a catch 22 in that if you start a vast building scheme in London that creates more jobs in the capital and will encouraging more people to it.

    We need a cheap, fast and integrated public transport system.

    Brown field sites not being developed can incur rising fines as can empty housing.

    Financial schemes like the Help to Buy and Funding for Lending should be aimed at building affordable housing not aimed at helping people to afford the overpriced or encouraging buy-to-let types.

    Local Councils should be freed up and allowed to borrow so they can build up the amount of social housing.

  7. odonII

    odonII O

    I think you have to separate 'affordable homes' from ‘social housing’ and completely avoid the idea of 'working class areas'.

    'Then there is the influence of the supermarkets the limitations of the Housing Associations, etc etc'

    What do you mean?

    What I'd like to know:

    How many people need 'social housing' in London.
    How many people are in 'social housing' 'HA property' or are under 'Registered Social Landlords'
    How many empty homes are there in London.

    Some of the people that seemed to be under 'Registered Social Landlords' lived in rat holes. One room squats, basically.
    Sub-dividing homes/Pubs etc into multi-lets to earn more money, and councils are paying landlords and allowing people to live in squalor.

    Decent Homes:

    If there are more homes available in the 'south east' people should be willing to move - especially if they don't have a job and are unlikely to be in employment anytime soon (for valid reasons).

    The programme did skirt around 'bad tenants' - hundreds of thousands of them. That has to be factored in too.


    Are you saying that there should be better/faster infrastructure in the South East, so that more people can live in that area but also work closer to London. So say a commute can be kept to under an hour.

    I don't think London councils should borrow money to build up some artificial housing capacity that is subject to change over time. All that will happen is that either the houses will be filled up, and there will be a need for more, or large swathes of housings estates will descend into no go areas.

    I think before councils build new, they should use up what they have or can acquire (empty property).

  8. Balbus

    Balbus Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator


    I mean ‘affordable’ housing in the sense of housing that it is affordable to those on low pay to rent and possibly to buy.

    I know it now seems unfashionable to talk about the ‘working class’ but that was how the issue was framed, I mean I’ve already mentioned the Housing of the Working Classes Act (1885). It has been about and aimed at those that had no other assets than their labour - banks would not lend to such people because they had no assets to seize in case of default and landlords took advantage of that (rents could be proportionally higher for the ‘working class’ than for other groups further up the social scale).

    Social housing, publically owned housing that was rent controlled was a way of allowing the ‘working class’ to rent at an affordable level. It allowed many the chance to save and in the end buy homes in the private sector. Public housing also had the effect of lowering rents in the private sector meaning they became more ‘affordable’ to those not in social housing.

    The genius of the right to buy scheme (in a political vote winning sense) was that it gave many working class people the opportunity to gain their first ‘asset’ very cheaply. Many used it as a means to borrow, banks would lend to those that had an asset they could seize in case of default. It was another factor in the property and credit bubbles.

    What we’ve had is a lack of affordable housing (in the South East) this inevitably brought about an increase in rents (and a proportional increase in the Housing benefit budget).
  9. Balbus

    Balbus Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

    You comment –

    but then go on to say that if there were more affordable housing –

    Now on this I said - We need to try and encourage the economic development of other regions, if the South East is the place where the jobs are that is where people will try and live and that drives up costs on available housing. Just building houses in London creates a catch 22 in that if you start a vast building scheme in London that creates more jobs in the capital and will encouraging more people to it.

    Here is some musings

    It often seems to me that London sucks in the young and spits out the old – the young come looking for work and those retiring move out to the ‘countryside’ (or the coast). Maybe we should try and encourage that, by say building a number of private and public sponsored care homes for the elderly on the outskirts of the capital with good infrastructural connections to try and coerces the elderly to move to them freeing up the housing stock? With the population getting older….
  10. Balbus

    Balbus Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

    Yes but is that available in the numbers needed?

    How do they acquire the empty property, do you think the Tory’s or even Labour you allow the seizing of private property by the state? If you pay for it would seem to me that all you’d was create another housing bubble. Also a lot of empty property is not up to standard and would need upgrading if you are not to create slums.

    My idea was ‘Brown field sites not being developed can incur rising fines as can empty housing’ This would bring in a revenue and if people with the property had no money to develop it they could pass it on to those that could. I’d also ‘zone’ such property for housing so it is not snapped up for instance by the supermarket chains.
  11. odonII

    odonII O


    Well, I had hoped the thread was about 'social housing'. Council property.
    Even if that also now encompasses Housing associations and Registered Social Landlords.
    If we are talking about the availability of homes for people in the UK, or more specifically London, then I think that is a wider debate - which is fine.
    However, I was trying to limit it to 'social housing' and what should be done about that.
    I appreciate that you are framing it as: 'Basically it was not unforeseen I remember discussing things back at the time of the Thatcher governments ‘right to buy’ scheme and the limitations put on councils to rebuild that if they were not careful they could seriously undermined the availability of affordable housing.' And possibly I wasn't 100% clear.

    I don't really want to argue about how the issue was framed too much because I could say that you 'framed' it in a certain way by mentioning certain issues - which I did not.
    But I would wish to limit to specifics rather than dragging in 'neo-liberal ideas', for e.g.

    There is a difference between 'working class areas' and 'housing the working class'.
    It is probably true that 'housing the working classes' also meant that there were areas built that were 'working class areas'.
    To me, that could now means council estates - where the entire area only has 'affordable homes' - affordable to the 'working class' (although a majority will be payed for using Housing benefits).
    How do you define 'working class' these days?
    Don't they put you in 'bands' now:

    Band A: Immediate re-housing need
    Band B: Urgent re-housing need
    Band C: Moderate housing need
    Band D: Low re-housing need

    And don't councils also have 'social housing' all over the place, rather than 'certain areas'.
    Where I live, there is a mixture of housing, and a mixture of people living here.
    People that rent, have bought their homes or are living in 'social housing'.
    I guess it's a matter of opinion if it is a 'middle-class area' or a 'working class area'.
    But defining areas as such is unhelpful, imho.

    So, the question is: What can be done about it. Lowering the HB budget and balancing the No. of 'social housing' with out building too many or too few/providing enough homes for people needing to be housed by the council.

    I didn't mean to suggest that the 'social housing' issue can be solved by finding the No.s needed - what ever that might be - purely in empty properties. If as many empty properties are brought back into use - regardless of if that means they are compulsory purchased or the owner rents or sells the property - then there wouldn't be potentially thousands upon thousands of properties in London being left empty.

    Some council tenants won't even move 3 miles away from where they are living - which is ridiculous.

    At the end of the day, the argument seems to be that more 'social housing' needs to be BUILT.
    My argument is, before a massive new building policy is put in place - the No.s need to be known.
    Which to me means an audit of property in London.
    Reading around, I have read there has been audits of empty property.
    There is a vague idea on the No.s of people looking for 'social housing'.
    But we still hear from certain quarters talk about not moving people, build, build, build, and councils not doing enough.

    From what you have said, It seems you are not averse to shipping people out of London. Does that include the poor/'working classes' too?
  12. Willy Blue

    Willy Blue Senior Member

    Uhm no, thats not what needs to happen in any welfare state. Social housing used to be run by local authorities, councils, who housed according to the needs of those who could not afford to buy. Thatcher started selling off social housing and privatising and creating housing associations who cannot hope to cater for the ever increasing number of people who cannot afford to buy due to overly inflated property price due to borrowing deregulation in the 80's. Now we dont have any truly social housing but landlords who offer the bare minimum, basically a box room and can charge the Government what they like because of the lack of social housing. New rules will also impact on the current situation. Thats not how the welfare state was designed to work.
  13. odonII

    odonII O

    What would they be? it possible to respond in more than soundbites?
  14. deviate

    deviate Senior Member

    Social housing breeds criminals and pussies who can't fend for themselves.

    I will not comment on US programs because I would just assume do away with it, to the extent it is being exploited.

    And as usual, things are way more gregarious and exploited by the scum of society in the UK. On both ends. You have the people sitting around getting high all day on your tax dollars on one end of the spectrum, and the dirtbag landlords sub parceling their private homes and stealing your money on the other end.

    Have fun sorting that mess out.
  15. Willy Blue

    Willy Blue Senior Member

    You are without doubt one misguided individual, good job you dont generalise hey. Have fun sorting your head out, dont envy you with that job.
  16. deviate

    deviate Senior Member

    I don't blame you, it's a pretty complex and self destructive mess up in there.

    But at least I don't live off the sweat of my countrymen. That's where the shame should lie. But you Brits, and apparently most of America now, don't see it that way.
  17. Willy Blue

    Willy Blue Senior Member

    The new benefit capping rules will price some areas in the UK out of the reach of those on lower pay and benefits. The new benefit capping does not just impact on jobless people but also those working but with families who are in receipt of housing benefit. This will in the long term force less well off families to move to areas where house pricing is is more affordable regardless of whether they want to move or not. The result will be an even greater devide between the haves and have nots. Social housing will suffer as a consequence because the standard of affordadable in less well off areas will decline. I could be wrong and we might all end up living in multi bedroom palaces but dont think thats going to happen. Sorry if that sounds like a sound bite but basically I don't care if it does.
  18. Willy Blue

    Willy Blue Senior Member

    I dont live off the state, I am lucky, I have a good job, live in a nice house right by the coast. I have been lucky, not all are so lucky and society and Government has a responsibility to right social injustice and accommodate those who are less fortunate and are in need. Thats my belief and always will be. I am no left wing liberal either, but I do believe in the values of the old labour party and the reasoning behind the forming of a welfare state.

    Right going to get off my soap box now before I fall off and break something. Enjoy your day.
  19. deviate

    deviate Senior Member


    Here's a novel idea. Work harder.
  20. Willy Blue

    Willy Blue Senior Member

    Wow, well done you, I am a little surprised I must admit, you can actually spell Boo.

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