What next for housing associations? “Social housing plus” or get the basics right?

The RSA (my old employer) find that social renters have the lowest overall levels of subjective financial security.

This makes sense when we consider that:

  • The majority (80%) of social renters had no savings or investments. This was higher than the proportion of private renters (60%) and owner occupiers (32%) who reported having no savings.
  • Social renters were the least likely to be employed full-time (31% in full-time employment) compared to all other tenure types (52% of owner occupiers and 67% of private renters were in full-time employment).
  • The social rented sector had the highest proportion of those who were economically inactive of all tenure types at 23% (compared to 8% of private renters and 3% of owner occupiers). Partly explained by the fact that, 54% of social renters had a household member with a disability or long-term illness. This is a larger than the proportion of owner occupiers (31%) and private renters (25%).

This lack of financial security is probably one of the reasons that social renters are the most likely to say that they were often or always lonely in 2019-20 (12%), with 4-5% of private renters or owner occupiers reporting feeling lonely often or always. Social renters had the lowest average well-being scores and highest average anxiety scores of any tenure.

On twitter, Alan Lockey, the Head of the Future Work programme at the RSA argues that “social housing can provide a stable, long-term intervention point to wrap other support services around.”

Elsewhere, Inside Housing have run an interview with Kwajo Tweneboa, who is campaigning for better standards in social housing and has uncovered homes that are in a terrible state. This prompted to Chris Worrall (amongst other things, the editor of Redbrick, to tweet “About time we recognised the housing association model is failing miserably. It is just not sustainable and there is no incentive for them to repair and maintain.

Too many organisations are failing to deliver while top brass get paid investment banker wages.”

Tying the two stories together, Jamie Ratcliff, Executive Director of Network Homes, tweets “what should housing associations stop doing to fund the “plus”? When there is a massive shortage of social homes is it better to offer new services to existing residents where that means fewer homes for new residents?”

A good question given that:

  • Over three quarters (78%) of social renters said that they were very or fairly satisfied with their accommodation. This was lower than the proportion of owner occupiers (95%) and private renters (83%)
  • Two thirds (66%) of social renters said they were satisfied with the repairs and maintenance carried out on their home, lower than the proportion of private renters who said this (75%),
  • Overall, 70% of social renters said they were satisfied with housing services provided by their landlord, lower than the proportion of private renters who said they were satisfied (78%)

So, can housing associations provide “social housing plus” or should they just focus on repairs and maintenance? And who gets to decide?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s