Monday, 02 March 2015

Housing boss attacks sector’s stance on migration

A housing association chief has hit out at the sector for failing to get to grips with the link between housing and migration.

Jon Lord, chief executive of Bolton at Home, told delegates at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s south east conference today (Tuesday) that the housing sector fails to see the link between housing and migration or fails to tackle the subject because it is too ‘difficult’.

Mr Lord, who is also chair of the Greater Manchester consortium for refugees and asylum seekers, said: ‘It’s absolutely dismaying the number of chief executives who don’t see the link [between housing and migration].

‘If you go and talk to many of their tenants it would be one the biggest issues tenants are worried about, in terms of the churn in communities, in terms of perceived impact on communities.

‘It does not hit the radar in at least two thirds of housing organisations.’

He said tackling migration requires people to be targets for far-right organisations like the British National Party and English Defence League, but this would in future make it less dangerous and difficult for others to tackle the issue.

Mr Lord called for social landlords to work more closely with the private rented sector to tackle houses in multiple occupation where people live in poor conditions.

He suggested working with good private sector landlords to try to force bad landlords out of business, possibly involving removing their properties from the housing benefit system.

Readers' comments (16)

  • Chris

    Why should it fall to social tenants to fund, through social landlords, the setting right of the failings of the private sector. What an absurd suggestion Mr Lord.

    If Mr Lord has experience of his organisation letting to persons with not right to social housing then perhaps he should be asking himself what he is doing about it, and why he permitted it to happen in the first place. Is the regulator going to take action, or the Home Office enquire why Mr Lord has been running illegal lettings.

    Oh, hang on, he hasn't. He only is responding to the community perception of immigrants taking up social housing.

    Well Mr Lord, there is your other answer for action then. Address that misconception and wrong perception instead of aiding and abetting it. That way you will be adding to community harmony and integration rather than discord and conflict.

    As reported, this statement by John Lord appears misguided, and dangerous.

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  • Joe Halewood

    Ahead of the usual expected comments from some on here Jon raises some very valid points such as working closely with (and regulating) good private landlords and I'd like to hear much more on the last sentence namely removing bad landlords from HB.

    Unfortunately this thread with probably sink into the highly emotive link between migrants and housing supply or capacity and doubtless with one-side regurgitation of ONS data. Its much much more than that and Jon will be aware of some authorities in his consortium area that accommodated asylum seekers with 100% use of private landlords, good private landlords in fact whose properties were rigorously checked before being used. Those same good private landlords made a healthy profit out of this and provided them at a cost lower than the local council could deliver and the standard of those properties was higher too.

    Yet the majority of council housing departments saw it as an opportunity to use their difficult-to-let properties and because they tended to be concentrated in very close location to one another created the same tensions Jon relates.

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  • Yes, it's hard to see what social landlords on their own can really do about it, as most of the problem with overcrowding of sometimes migrant people takes place in the PRS.

    Still, only a brave man raises the word migration in the same breath as housing.

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  • Chris

    True point David

    Mind you the description brave is not the only one - many an agenda is fulfilled by other who do likewise.

    However - the point of having social landlords sort out the private sector problems is the real area of idiocy in the statement.

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  • John Galt

    Mr Lord. Aren't you aware that the social housing sector is ideologically opposed to and fundamentally incompatible with the private rented sector. You make a cruel joke when you suggest your counterparts should work with the private sector landlords. When in fact many in social housing would like to see it burn.

    Good luck dealing with that obstacle on your way to making social housing deliver what it says on the tin.

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  • What does Mr Lord, know about the private rental sector?. The only thing most social housing providers seem to care about is expanding their own empires and they see the PRS has a threat.

    Incidently, the HMO sector is heavily regulated. Even if a license is not needed, it needs to comply with HMO regulations.

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  • I think they should privatise housing associations. Perhaps, this is why the Government is looking at institutional investors entering the rental market.

    In Germany 70% of the rental market is run by the private sector...

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  • Once again housing overlords venturing into matters not in their control - stick to generating more houses on the waiting list - migrants and assylum seekers - will have to find their own solutions - whether that is causing them problems - their business to sort out. Social landlords manage your business well.

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  • As government policies are tending to mean "social rents" will climb closer to private rents, the housing associations will, at the very least, have to start thinking about the PRS and how it affects them even if they don't buy into some of the ideas presented in the PWC report for L&Q, “Where Next” (which explored the challenges facing the housing association sector after the end of the current spending review in 2015 & looked at the HAs moving into some element of "market renting").

    I sesne many readers may not like the PRS and may shudder at the PWC report and at the government's strategies on housing, but that's kind of where we are.

    I recall even Basil Fawlty on a particularly bad day said, "It must be a dream". He then hit his head on the reception desk, looked up and said, "No, it's not a dream, we are stuck with it."

    With his sore head he went on to confront the issues he faced. (Of course, his actions were all wrong, but he "had a go").

    So it's good to have a debate. The trouble is we don't think there is enough of a debate going on.

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  • @Concerned Landlord
    What is it you would like to achieve by the government ‘privatising’ Housing Associations? Housing Associations are private already, albeit without shareholders.

    Also, to the rental markets in the UK and Germany are hardly comparable- rented properties (off all types social rent, ‘affordable’, and private) make up a fair greater proportion of the housing supply there than here; renting is a more mainstream tenure choice in Germany, and tenants have much greater rights to remain and rent controls.

    I would welcome the entry of institutional investors into the rental market however; this could bring benefits if the investors were in it for 20+ years- it would encourage higher quality designs and sustainable and long lasting building in order to ensure future attractiveness and reduce future repairs for which they would be liable. Plus parts of the UK would benefit greatly from an increased rental supply, even if it is at private sector rates.

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