Thursday, 23 October 2014

Million more homes needed for vulnerable people

Nearly 1 million more new properties could be needed in England by 2021 for those on housing benefit, according to research by Cambridge University and homelessness charity Centrepoint.

In a report published today, the organisations estimated that 934,388 extra sub-market housing units – those for social rent or accessible to tenants in the private rented sector on housing benefit – will be needed in addition to planned current supply.

It said that 137,535 of these would be required by people under 25, with such young people facing more barriers than ever to accessing housing.

They are increasingly disadvantaged in the housing market due to low incomes, youth unemployment and a lack of mortgage finance, the report said, while access to social housing is more constrained and the proportion of young people entering the tenure has fallen.

Centrepoint said the shortage of housing is creating bottle necks in homelessness hostels, preventing such charities from taking in more homeless young people, because those helped have nowhere to move on to.   

The report said that reforms to housing benefit may deter some households from forming, which would reduce the overall requirements, though possibly at the expense of increasing overcrowding or homelessness.

Meanwhile, it added the supply of social rented housing will slowly decline if the current right to buy reforms are successful at increasing uptake.

The report said that demands on accommodation are much greater in the high pressured parts of the country, particularly London, with more than half the overall shortfall of emergency and supported accommodation in the capital.

Seyi Obakin, chief executive of Centrepoint, said: ‘A combination of benefit changes, a shortage of affordable homes and an increasing anxiety among landlords to let to young people on housing benefit has created a crisis situation.

‘While it’s vital that more affordable homes are built, there are also other ways of tackling the problem which don’t come with a huge price tag. 

‘Local authorities must look at using powers they already have to tackle empty homes and engage further with the private sector, and nationally, government has to review its cuts to housing benefit rates, which has left private rented properties out of reach in many areas of the country.’

The research made use of secondary data and of 10 local case studies, selected to be broadly representative of England overall in terms of population, region, housing pressure and other factors.

Readers' comments (14)

  • Not sure why they mention 137,535 homes needed for under 25s - when the "shared room rate" of HB now applies up to age 34 - so logically a far higher number will apply to that whole group.

    I agree that the HB rate for this group will be a challenge in the SE especially - and more so for those who are too young to qualify for adult rate of JSA/IS.

    SRS has little if any accomodation for this group - so it will be down to the private sector - and with falling real wages likely many will be struggling with mortgages and will be happy to take in a lodger or two.

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  • michael barratt

    All due respect to the Centrepoint Charity, they have contributed to highlighting the housing crisis that has descended upon us. However, Centrepoint is very much the product of the British establishment. Their patron is Prince William. Board members include; Robert Gray former chairman of HSBC Markets Ltd, Jon Milward Partner at Accountants Deloitte. Senior staff include those from accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers and GE Capital.

    Centrepoint report talks of a shortage of ‘affordable’ homes and their solution more building in the private building for rent and greater engagement with the private sector. They fail to propose building more council homes to be let at social rents – an inexcusable omission when it is well documented that ‘affordable’ homes to rent or buy are in reality unaffordable for the working poor.

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  • Trevor Galley

    Lets hope it feeds into an urgent review of the Govts National Housing Strategy and results in real long term investment in the sector being made.

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  • People are crying out for social rent homes. The new "Affordable Rent" is frightening and unwanted.

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  • No one disputes or even challenges anymore the terms "affordable"... Affordable homes are NOT social homes... THERE IS NO POINt in building affordable homes for people in need... They will neverbe able to afford them...
    Of coure there is a HUGE interest in building them by the whole set of vultures and speculators from social landlords to private landlords so they can happily go on feeding off homelessness and people in need... Again so many who will not get any advantage or improvement or interest out of affordable "unaffordable" home are being taken in by yet another con... Poor you, poor you my friends, when you'll find out you have lined the pocket and the careers of the very people and institutions that will not think twice about taking away from you your present home.

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  • HAs are but one "victim" in a market driven economy.

    Until recently - although having a pseudo charitable/pseudo commercial status - they benefited from tax payer support via capital grants - which have recently been reduced - placing greater reliance on new commercial borrowings - in order to fund any new build.

    Given though that the new 80% MR in most of the country - still falls within the LHA 30th percentile - HB still covers the "Affordable Rent"

    HAs are still therefore benefitting from ongoing taxpayer support in funding the growing HB bill - 61% of which devolves from SRS.

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  • Maurice Condie

    I am sure, like me, some people are getting sick to death of the verbal tautologies and oxymorons we in the housing sector create. Affordable housing? Affordable to whom? Sub market housing? What nonsense. There is a market for genuinely affordable housing for people on a low wage. The state and the private sector simply don’t want to engage with that market, unless (in the case of the private sector) they can make significant profits through state subsidy of their tenants. We have spent years as a nation stigmatizing whole sections of our population. It should be possible for someone on the living wage to rent a home, suitable for his or her needs.

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  • Why let in so many people into this country if there isn't enough to go around ?Soon it will look that immigrants will be housed and not british folks. This is why multiculturalism isn't working and animosity on are streets is growing .
    If there was enough well paid jobs there wouldn't be such a problem .We are not dealing with the root causes of poverty and other issues until then we will be in debt and other troubles.

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  • Saying that someone on the living wage should be able to rent somewhere suitable for their needs - is overlooking the degree of variability of those needs.

    A single person may well be able to afford say a £100 weekly "bills included" bedsit in the SE.

    A lone parent with 3 teenage kids may need to rent a 3 bed property - which even in SRS may not be affordable.

    Again it depends on how we define needs versus aspirations - the single person may feel fine in a bedsit in their early/mid twenties - but certainly by mid 30s will be wanting self contained accommodation - which may or may not be affordable.

    Realistically in SE - self contained accomodation outside of SRS is only affordable to a couple both in full time work - unless they desire a simple existence only.

    Asking oneself what brought about that situation - my guess is the de-industrialisation of the north over past 40 years - causing many to move to SE in pursuit of a better life. With 40% of the whole UK population now crammed in to SE corner there is now far greater property price disparity between north and south - compared to early post war decades.

    Even within the SE itself - I believe that London property prices have ratcheted up by a higher factor than the SE generally - hence the current lack of affordability in the capital.

    The downside for young adults who were born and bred in the capital especially - is that unless they are high earners - there is no choice but to move away from London if they choose to leave home.

    This is further exacerbated by many immigrants targeting the capital as their destination of choice - for the earning potential - especially so for those who may have a short term agenda of living in cramped shared accomodation - to maximise disposable income - enabling many to return to country of birth after a handful of years and pay cash for a home for life.

    So the housing crisis is a product of all these dynamic forces - with the solution being twofold - reduce immigration - and respread the work around the country - especially the north.

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  • We are all doomed! Is mass house building, social or private the answer? Although the big developers say they want to build more it is in their interest not to so as a demand out stripping supply keeps asking prices and profits high. So let’s face it in the real world we will never get mass building of social houses that is required.

    The current Lib/Con government don’t care about this, in their paid for second homes, and their ideological obsession with smaller state larger private sector. The only way forward is to re-establish a link between rental & out-right-sale house prices and income because in the long run you reduce the amount you need to spend on benefits.

    David the immigrant debate is a misnomer created by both extreme left wing and right wing sections of society egged on by parts of the press. LA’s all have allocation rules and someone turning up from a European country, certainly in my LA would not automatically get housing. The fact is most European’s will go into the private rented sector, which of course may increase private rents by a small percentage.

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