Why Iain Duncan Smith is wrong about the role of social landlords
The real story
What story do landlords tell about themselves? Two articles in last week’s Inside Housing demonstrated the under-acknowledged social value housing providers generate.
London & Quadrant’s status as a social housing provider was questioned by a cabinet minister over proposing just 60 of the 294 new homes in its planned Walthamstow Stadium development should be part of the government’s preferred affordable rent tenure.
Housemark’s research into spending on anti-social behaviour demonstrated how landlords contribute to communities - activity and spending which creates not a single new home of any tenure, but which successfully resolves most issues without burdening the police, courts, or the taxpayer. Both of these are stories about investment and about using assets to generate value.
Landlord investment in resolving ASB not only protects their income stream by avoiding evictions but also improves residents’ quality of life. Investment in new private housing reduces demand, makes a financial return for reinvestment in more social housing, creates economic activity, and provides secure homes.
Iain Duncan Smith’s response to L&Q’s development proposal is symptomatic of an attitude which sees landlords primarily as a production line for building, to be threatened with government action if that agenda is not pursued.
Social landlords have a stronger narrative than this. They generate social value from past and ongoing investment in housing stock, from the provision of services and from community activity, which benefits communities and the taxpayer and enhances the quality of life for people inside and outside their tenant base. The opportunity should be taken to tell this story - before the likes of IDS impose a different one.
Will Perry is business development director at Housemark