Monday, 02 March 2015

Ministers’ views condemned as an ‘insult’ to social tenants

Housing chiefs slam Shapps’ allocation comments

Senior housing figures have hit out at Grant Shapps for controversial comments about social housing tenants.

The housing minister yesterday said: ‘For years the system for social housing has been associated with injustice – where rewards are reaped for those who know how to play the system best.

‘Despite this terrible image a lazy consensus in social housing has ensured that, for an entire generation, no-one has bothered to do anything about it.’

The housing minister made the comments yesterday as a consultation on the government’s new allocations policy, which urges councils to prioritise tenants who are seeking work, was launched.

Mr Shapps’ comments angered a number of chief executives, who said there was little evidence for the minister’s claim that there is injustice in the allocations system.

Tom Murtha, chief executive of 32,000-home association Midland Heart, said Mr Shapps comments are an ‘insult’ to people living in social housing.

Mr Murtha said: ‘I am appalled that Mr Shapps can suggest that we have been complacent in the sector and that the system creates injustice. I am not aware of any evidence that supports this. In fact, the evidence that exists suggests the contrary.

‘The vast majority of people living in social housing are decent people striving to live positive lives, often in difficult circumstances. Mr Shapps’ comments are an insult to these people and their families.’

Mr Murtha said Midland Heart’s homes are already let to those who most need them.

Keith Exford, chief executive of 55,000-home Affinity Sutton, said: ‘To make sweeping generalizations about four million people is pretty uncalled for.’

Readers' comments (33)

  • F451

    About bloody time - it seems the sector is recovering its spine - now, what does the chief demoniser say in reply?

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  • Chris Webb

    Thank you Cexs, you've made this old man very happy, for at least the weekend.

    Now feed your challenge out into the media with whom the mutual minister and media admiration has been left for too long without question.

    Come out clearer and call the propagandist demoniser for what he is - using emotive language to stigmatise a specific group and so gain support for attacks against that very group. This Minister must be exposed for what he is, and called to account befor further lasting harm is done.

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  • Peter Wicks

    I take great offence at this pig ignorant mans statement:

    "The housing minister yesterday said: ‘For years the system for social housing has been associated with injustice – where rewards are reaped for those who know how to play the system best."

    How on earth who does this fool who has never lived in a council house in his life understand our establishment system of "them" and "us" and the social structure is far different from Israel and the kibbutz system he is used to...At the bottom of the pile and by far the numerous are the "Working Class"...the ones who empty your poxy dustbins....clean out the detritus from your sewers and all the the jobs you would not touch with a barge poll...they are by tradition the lowest paid in Britain and occupy the majority of council homes.....Next there are the "Middle Class" who in the main work in Britain's offices and most live in suburban homes that are mortgaged up to their necks and are one pay packet away from bankruptcy and the bread line....Then we have the vilest of Britain's class ridden group..."The Upper Class" which includes our friend Shapp's and ALL those who sit in the Houses of Crime and Corruption in Westminster's Halls Shame and these 560 members of Parliament who make the 60 million odd life's a living uttering
    crap that has come from this mans mouth....look for another job Shapp's because your rudeness is becomming very insulting...
    Visit me there

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  • Some parts are correct when he says "rewards are reaped for those who know how to play the system best"

    I have HB tenants, who have trashed my properties to get on the priority for housing. He is right, because it is rewarding people who have behaved badly, rather then those patiently waiting for council housing...

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  • If Schapps had said that Social Housnig "was seen" as having this injustice, I would certainly agree because stories in the media have been very selective, and he should have then pointed out that it's far from true.

    On average, about a third of Council tenants don't receive HB because of their income, and of those on HB, many are not on full HB because of partial household income or other circumstances. When it comes to the wider social housing issue, a large section is made up of retired people or those unable to work, which then need to be discounted from the figures (Housemark and other returns do differentiate betwen different lettings in this respect, so the figures can be obtained). A further large section of social housing is made up of people who work part time for various reasons (either single parents, people caring for a relative, etc), and earn too much to be eligible for HB, but not enough to afford private rents. There are other sub groups which can be explained. A minister, or any senior representative of social housing in Parliament or the industry, should not allow such sweeping statements to be left unchallenged, and should certainly not be making them.

    To the Concerned Landlord above, I find it a shame your properties received such treatment, but you should have reported this to the Local Authority and the poilce, such tactics are not tolerated and in recent years I've even seen people jailed for what they assumed were minor offences to "play the system".

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  • michael barratt

    The question arises as to whether Mr Shapps Minister for Housing is a fit and proper person to hold that portfolio since he appears to share views with Nicholas van Hoogstraten concerning tenants renting homes.

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  • It would be more accurate to say "for years social housing has been associated with providing homes for people who need them". Perhaps that is what Mr Shapps doesn't like about it.

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  • Ivana Hart

    Shapps is absolutely right and 99% of the public would agree with him. Including many in social housing already who see the detritus and system gamers get priority. Long past time the curse of "needs" based allocation, brought in by the '77 Homeless Person Act, was scrapped and allocation returned to merit based principles of being employed, having good references, married if children are present etc as worked so well in the Golden Age of Council Housing from '45 to '77.

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  • I am in social housing and I don't agree with Shapps. Having not carried out an accurate survey I couldn't say what "99%" of other people think.

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  • Christopher O'Connor

    I have worked in social housing for the past 10 years, I have seen the struggle some people face in finding appropriate accommodation, mostly by those with mental health, drug or alcohol issues or just the unemployed, I would like to see where Mr Shapps gets his information, I work for a very well recognised company and agree with Mr Tom Murtha, this is an insult to those living in social housing, I think he should have said this was his personal opinion!

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